Recently, I wrote about the BB cream I use on days I’m feeling blotchy, or just need to leave the house quick and don’t have time to go through my whole usual makeup routine. I suggested that if guys wanted to jump on this tinted moisturizer bandwagon, I wouldn’t hold it against you. Whether you’re suffering from rosacea, or just a sleepless night, most women (or, at least, me anyway) wouldn’t mind if a guy wanted a little help some mornings in the complexion department.
It prompted a lot of great conversation in the comments, with some readers saying they’d try it, others saying, “No way.” A few guys even pointed out that a BB cream for guys is already on the market. But one comment that was made, then seconded and thirded, was the preference for a woman to skip makeup altogether, in favor of a “natural” look.
I said this in the comments that day, but it bears repeating – you may think you prefer a woman sans-makeup, but what you really prefer is a woman wearing natural-looking makeup.
It used to make me laugh when guys would say they like girls who “don’t wear makeup” but it happens so often that now I feel it’s time to pull back the curtain, Wizard of Oz-style, to let you in on this secret that shouldn’t be a secret: Women wear makeup.
Almost all of us anyways. And certainly the ones you guys think “look so great without makeup on.” Because that natural look? That takes a lot of work. Sometimes more than the garish, colorful looks that make you guys think you don’t like makeup on a girl. It also involves a considerable amount of powders, gels, pencils, brushes, along with a skilled hand and a dash of smoke and mirrors.
Think about it. If natural skin looked better than made-up faces, movie makeup artists would be out of work. You’d never recoil at an image of yourself captured by an HD camera. Acne wouldn’t be feared by teenagers and adults alike.
I recently fell into a YouTube sinkhole of beauty tutorials about “contouring.” It’s a makeup technique that’s intended to imitate the shadows that naturally fall on your face, defining your face and making it appear more “sculpted” – your nose skinnier, your cheekbones more prominent, your chin…I don’t know, sharper? Chinnier?
After ten minutes of contouring, I look in the mirror and can tell I look better, but if you saw me at that moment – before eyeliner, before mascara, before lip gloss – you’d have no idea I even had any makeup on.
Meaning, makeup is not just blue eyeshadow and fire engine-red lipstick. It’s concealer, it’s foundation, it’s bronzer, it’s highlighter (no, not the sharpie kind), and not only do I look more put together when I leave the house wearing it, I also feel more confident.
Here’s where I agree with men’s “natural” stance. I think the best looks – whether a made-up face on a woman or the clothes on a man’s back – are those that appear effortless. That, however, is not the same thing as saying these looks are effortless to achieve. It’s why a guy might roll and re-roll his sleeves three times before leaving the house. It’s why that “messy” top knot I wear my hair in actually takes 15 minutes and eight bobby pins to execute. Why we get our teeth whitened. Dye our hair. Get hair plugs. Breast implants. Drink protein shakes. The list goes on. For all of us.
My point is this: from my female perspective, it’s perfectly acceptable to put some elbow grease into looking like you simply wake up looking the way you do – your hair, your clothes, your accessories. All I ask is that men do us ladies the same courtesy of suspending disbelief in the same way.
Let’s just all agree to show some grace in how we speak about one another’s appearance. Not to say men and women should keep secrets, but a little more understanding that others get dressed and put effort into their appearance for themselves and for you. Appreciate it. Don’t question it. Don’t make that person feel embarrassed or like they have to defend themselves.
I am fine with you taking ten minutes on your hair and simply appreciating that you look great, even if I can’t place exactly why. Even if the tiny pot of pomade that lends that artfully tousled ‘do set you back fifty bucks.
So maybe just be more careful with your words. I promise not to ask you how much fussing it took you to get that tie tied just right with the dimple in the middle, and you don’t ask why I have three different blushes in my makeup bag.