Men and Makeup

10 Aug

A few months ago, I received an article in my Entourage inbox from the guy I was dating at the time. “Thought you might find this interesting…” was the body of the email, with this link included. It was an article about makeup that women supposedly love but men hate.

My reactions as I read were as follows:

“Oh, how nice, he took time out of his day to send me an email on something I care about.”

“Huh? No product-conscious women like heavy foundation.”

“Neon lips?!? I love bright lipstick.”

“Hold on, I always have rosy cheeks. If I don’t put blush on, I’ll look like a corpse.”

Wait a minute. Is this some kind of thinly-veiled “I don’t like your makeup” comment?”

Then I sat around for the rest of the day pondering, and, when I saw him next, asked him about it.

Me: Thanks for sending me that article! But you know I don’t really do those things.

Him: *laughs it off*

Me: No, no. Do you not like my makeup?

Him: It’s just the lipstick. You like weird colors. Or bright ones.

Me wearing MAC Lady Danger Lipstick

Me wearing MAC Lady Danger Lipstick

He wasn’t wrong. My first MAC lipstick was Snob, a more lilac version of Pepto-Bismol pink. And I regularly wear MAC Lady Danger, a vivid matte red-orange. But I was still offended. When I wear unusual lipstick, the rest of my face is very toned down. Foundation (lightly applied!), mascara, eyeliner, and blush. Kevyn Aucoin‘s Making Faces was my bible as a middle-schooler, and to some extent still is. Among many things, it taught me that if you’re doing a strong eye, wear a light lip – and vice versa. I don’t regularly wear teal eyeshadow or anything (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I don’t line my lips in dark brown when I wear a nude lip. I mustered up a calm tone from somewhere really deep down and finally eked out the following.

Me: You know cosmetics are my thing. It’s my makeup and I’ll do what I want with it.

Him: Whatever, that’s fine. I know you will. I was just saying.

I should have realized that this would be a warning sign among many others that I wouldn’t be accepted for who I was – which was a bit of a struggle for me. Fine, we don’t have to have the same opinion, but not fine if you’re going to shut me down about mine.

Many people have not understood my philosophy about cosmetics in the past. My philosophy is that makeup has no rules – it’s a form of art! While fashion, too, is a form of art, I’ve always felt that it is dissimilar to beauty in regards to rules. I’ve been many shapes and sizes and I know what I can and cannot wear when I look a certain way (can: skinny jeans. Can’t: wide-leg trousers). With makeup, pretty much any product will work with the right technique and right attitude. Have fun with it! I just happen to take my fun very seriously.

Lady Gaga at the CFDAs 2011

Lady Gaga at the CFDAs 2011, courtesy of Lady Gaga's Twitpic account

Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese, courtesy of

That all being said, a strong lip is a sign of confidence in a woman. When I wear my more dramatic products less frequently, I feel more easily shaken and, well, weak. Maybe that’s weird, but I know of many women that won’t leave the house without their lips on. (Think about it – Gwen Stefani, Lady Gaga, and Dita von Teese among others are known for this.)

Men don’t have to like makeup. They don’t have to understand makeup. But they should appreciate it – not just for its beauty and what it can do, but for how it makes women feel. They might be putting on those products so you tell them they’re hot, but mostly women will put on makeup because it makes them feel beautiful. Makeup makes a statement.

If some men can’t handle that statement, we’re probably better off without them.

Have you ever changed your style because someone didn’t like it, or ignored someone when they told you they didn’t appreciate your look? Let me know in the comments.


8 Responses to “Men and Makeup”

  1. Saorise August 11, 2011 at 1:35 AM #

    Being drawn to red lipstick since middle school, I can recall the first time I wore a bold shade publicly. The compliments were non stop. With my long hair and pale skin, I felt ‘striking’ for the first time!

    Lacking the confidence to wear it to my small, gossipy high school, I then proceeded to wear raccoon eyes for the next four years.

    I didn’t wear red lips confidently and consistently until the safe anonymity of college.

    • makeupmaestra August 11, 2011 at 12:10 PM #

      Thank you for commenting, Saorise! You have a beautiful name. Ah, that’s another thing that perhaps I should touch on sometime on my blog – beauty products as a defense mechanism!

  2. David Wojciechowski (@wikiwikichowski) August 11, 2011 at 11:42 AM #

    Frankly that other article is dumb from the start just because any article that is comprised of the “Women do this, men hate it” premise is inherently idiotic. I don’t know anything about makeup products but I’ve never formed a consensus in my own mind about how I feel about individual products, just how tastefully individual women use them.

    And, for the record, you know what you are doing. Clearly. Like I needed to say that.

    • makeupmaestra August 11, 2011 at 12:13 PM #

      A male commenter! Thanks, David, for stopping by. I’m glad you seem to support my theory – and that you approve of my application technique! 🙂

  3. Derek Bixby October 1, 2011 at 11:19 AM #

    I’ve found that a lot of guys say that they don’t like makeup in general. However, in my experience with social science research, males tend to overwhelmingly favored made up faces. Similar to what you’ve already said, maybe some guys are intimidated by a woman who’s skillful and adventerous with her cosmetics application. I think that’s ridiculous.

    Makeup is an artform and should be celebrated as such! By both girls and guys.

    • makeup maestra October 1, 2011 at 1:51 PM #

      I’ve found the same thing, Derek – meaning that men will say things such as, “you would look so much better without makeup,” but if they do enjoy a ‘natural’ looking face, that takes at least five beauty products to achieve, not to mention a blow dryer. Makeup is, indeed, a form of art, and should be appreciated by all – and I respect everyone willing to dabble in it.

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I really appreciate your visit.

      • Derek Bixby October 1, 2011 at 3:16 PM #

        It was my pleasure! Kind of a change of pace from my typical online browsing. I always like learning about topic I’ve never really heard much about before. Maybe I can do my part to make up for the relative ignorance (and apparent rudeness if your above story is representative) of my counterparts. And why not learn from someone who seems to be such expert on the topic? I’ll have to stop back again, get my learn on!

      • makeup maestra October 2, 2011 at 9:53 PM #

        thank you so much! i appreciate your kind words! 🙂

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