I’m a big advocate of doing anything that makes you feel more beautiful and self-expressed, including with beauty, makeup, and fashion (you can read this article on how my favorite denim jumpsuit changed my life, and this article on my favorite mantras for beauty). However, after years in fashion marketing, I came to realize just how much advertising damages us by making us think we need something. This is especially true in makeup ads that sell us an idea of how we’ll be a certain kind of woman if we just buy this lipstick, that eyeliner. Oh but, my beautiful woman, that’s not how true beauty works! So we’re taking back makeup from the manufacturers (a $60 billion industry, by the way) and taking our power to feel naturally beautiful for being ourselves back!
Please note: this is not a call to action to stop using makeup. On the contrary; it’s a call to start using it to empower yourself rather than diminish yourself. It’s a call to use makeup, and everything you do for and with your body, as a way to respect yourself more!
5 Ways Makeup Actually Makes You Feel LESS Beautiful
- By making you focus on covering up your flaws Remember that what makes you uniqueis your strength, not your weakness. In many European cultures, the flaw-obsession simply isn’t the point, because unique is the foundation of beauty. That which is imperfect and different is endearing and admired, because it’s what sets a person apart. So if most of your makeup routine is a stress session in which you focus on all the things you hate about your looks rather than adoring all the things that make you who you are (all those beautiful angles and features your mother gave you!), then it’s time to re-evaluate your routine.
- Because You’re trying to look like someone else The internet is a veritable treasure trove of tutorials, but a balance must be struck between taking tutelage and still attempting a bit of individual expression. Fads come and go, but in the fashion world we know that true beauty comes from being willing to stand out by being yourself. While you might learn tricks from youtube videos and online makeup how-to guides, be sure you’re still allowing yourself to have fun and be the best version of yourself with this ancient form of artful vanity.
- Throwing Shade Rather Than Spreading the Light: Contouring vs. Highlighting Like contouring over highlighting? Think again: This point came to light after reading the beauty and makeup tricks of French makeup artists. In France, beauty is about drawing attention to your strengths, and so they spend less time and energy (if any) creating shadows and instead highlight where they want the eye to go. This is a novel and empowering approach to beauty because it simultaneously enhances your traits while charging you with being putting your looks out there, rather than hiding parts of yourself.
- You Use it to Criticize Yourself A few years ago, I underwent an experiment of not looking in the mirror for an entire week. The idea was that I needed a way to stop the self-hating morning routine where I criticized myself every day trying to get ready. It was incredibly challenging (I was forced with finding my confidence while knowing I didn’t look my best) but it worked. Now I realize that if your morning makeup routine is just a chance to criticize yourself (“I hate my nose”, “my lips aren’t full enough”) and stress yourself out, then you’re doing daily damage to your self esteem. Remember to treasure your body; it’s the only one you’ve got. If you need help, try working with these empowering affirmations for self-esteem.
- You Believe You Need It It’s not your fault, it’s the marketing companies’ fault. They’ve done this on purpose, by associating a particular product with an emotional pursuit like love and romance (blush and mascara), or confidence and authority(red lipstick). But you’re smarter than that: know that you’re gorgeous exactly as you are, and the only thing you need to feel beautiful is the realization that you are perfect and worthy of receiving love just as you are.