There’s nothing wrong with wearing makeup. In fact, there are times when it’s better to wear it than not. And there’s nothing wrong with not wearing makeup either, even when you are expected to. And I’m talking to all the women out there, since it’s women who are generally expected to wear makeup. It’s great that guys should wear makeup, too, if they want to, and plenty of them do. It’s all well and good, provided people are genuine and express themselves truthfully.
If you’re wondering what I’m getting at, take a good look at some of the photos with the hashtag #NoMakeup on social media, especially Instagram. And I mean focus on the detail, with a critical eye. Wouldn’t you agree not all of them are entirely genuine? Though they aren’t always that easy to spot. What does #NoMakeup mean anyway? Does it mean wearing absolutely no makeup at all, or is it okay to use a couple of makeup items?
Definition of wearing makeup
For some people, not wearing makeup means just leaving off the foundation and the heavy stuff: a touch of lip gloss and mascara, even eyeliner, don’t count. Other people are stricter about those “insignificant, barely-noticeable details”.
I see a funny parallel here with food choices and people’s different definitions of vegetarianism. Vegetarians often disagree about what they can include in their diet: no red meat, no meat at all, no meat or fish, or no animal-derived protein at all.
There are also other factors to consider when deciding what constitutes #NoMakeup. The following products, for example, don’t exactly come into the category of makeup:
• Tinted moisturiser
• Oil or serum with glow or other effects
• Lip balm
• Eye drops and coloured contact lenses
So no makeup might mean you don’t wear anything on your skin, but hey, you can use moisturiser, just as long as it’s not tinted. And if we’re going to be coherent, the aim should be to not wear anything that changes either your colour or your expression. I propose we look for a new hashtag that’s a bit more on point, something like #AbsolutelyNothingAppliedToMySkin.
Filters, lighting and photo editing
Now let’s suppose you’re genuine when you say you aren’t wearing any makeup of any kind. But then you go and use one of those barely-visible filters, or even indulge in a spot of photo editing!
Is photoshopping the same as wearing makeup? Evidently, the effect can be even more obvious than wearing makeup. What about lighting? A good photographer knows how to use lighting professionally to deliberately improve the picture and create specific sensations and impressions.
In other words, it isn’t easy to draw a definitive line between makeup and no makeup and be sure you are being entirely truthful when you add a #NoMakeup-type hashtag to a photo you publish on social media. There are many potential combinations, any one of which could be considered to be altering reality: wearing a bit of lip gloss but not using a filter, wearing only tinted moisturiser but using the lighting to achieve a specific effect, applying a glow serum and using a barely-perceptible filter… the possibilities are endless!
Natural beauty vs. natural cosmetics
The real objective of not wearing makeup or deciding not to wear makeup is making a conscious effort to take care of your skin. The end result of natural beauty versus makeup is taking better care of yourself, looking and feeling better without the need to dress yourself up. When you look after yourself thoughtfully, scrupulously and effectively, you achieve natural beauty and your image is a true and genuine reflection of yourself, rather than an attempt to look like other people. Beauty can be many things, from a sincere expression to a bright smile; it comes from within, and filters and tweaks are redundant.
All things considered, you can be part of the #NoMakeup movement (or be an independent #NoMakeup individual) and still wear makeup from time to time, perhaps because it feels appropriate and you will feel happier with makeup in a given situation. You can be like the vegetarian who has a slice of jamón serrano every once in a while. Some vegetarians might throw up their hands in horror, but others will be more tolerant. My personal preference is for tolerance and understanding, respecting that certain situations can demand a certain flexibility.