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Why Do Women Wear Makeup?

Updated on April 9, 2013
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From January of 2011 to October of 2011 nearly 117 million makeup products were sold in the United States alone, bringing in $2.8 billion (The NPD Group, Inc.). Why is it that despite the economic crisis we are facing the beauty industry continues to grow? Makeup is certainly not necessary for our health or safety, so why has it become the norm for women of all ages?

Makeup Makes a Woman Seem More Capable

A study performed by Boston University in 2011 found that when women wore makeup gave the impression of being more competent, trustworthy, and intelligent than when they did not. Of course, confidence and self-esteem play a role in this, right? A woman who thinks she looks good and is proud of her appearance will give off a stronger and more commanding vibe, certainly. However, in this study the women were not allowed to look in a mirror during or after makeup application to prevent their own opinion of themselves from being projected onto the viewers. Two different testing methods were used; one group saw each face for only 0.25 seconds before making a decision of which look was most competent, the other had unlimited time. In both cases the woman was found to appear most capable while wearing makeup.

Media Influence

The increase of reality and makeover shows, as well as media exposure in general, is exposing us to more beauty products than ever before. This is having the largest effect on children and teens, who are more impressionable and not as set in their ways. Another study by The NPD Group found that in 2005 the average age that girls began using beauty products was 17. In 2009 that age had dropped dramatically to 13. Children as young as 5 or 6 are tuning into shows such as “Toddlers & Tiaras” and “Little Miss Perfect” and seeing their peers tanning, getting highlights, wearing makeup, etc. Naturally they want to emulate this behavior.

Photo Manipulation and the Unobtainable Standard

It is rare to see an ad today that has not been photo-shopped and airbrushed to perfection. Do the viewer’s know that their favorite model probably doesn’t have perfect skin? Of course. Despite this we cannot help but compare ourselves to these images. We try to achieve with makeup what has, in the media, been created by a professional team of stylists, a professional photographer, perfect lighting, and photo retouching.

Social Acceptance

How often do you hear people say they wish they were ugly? Probably never. It is in our nature to want to attract others. Yes, a great personality outweighs a pretty face but the sad truth is that we are so often judged by our outward appearance. In the case of women, and especially teens, not only are we concerned with what prospective romantic partners may think of us, but also what other women think. Polls show that two thirds of women dress up with the intention of getting compliments from other women rather than men. Peer pressure and acceptance play a huge role in the use of cosmetics.

I am the same person with or without makeup, so why would people rather talk to me when I look like the right?
I am the same person with or without makeup, so why would people rather talk to me when I look like the right?

My Opinion

By now you might be thinking that I have a vendetta against the cosmetic industry and never wear makeup. Wrong. I love wearing makeup. I think it is fun, I like how it looks, and there is an art to it that can be beautiful and amazing. What I am against is a society that makes us feel ugly or like less of a woman if we choose not to wear makeup. No one has clear skin, groomed eyebrows, and long, full lashes 24/7. We need to start accepting less than perfection; both in ourselves and others.

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    • Angela Washington profile image

      Angela 23 months ago from Marietta, Ga.

      I'm not a huge make up person. Hell I don't even know how to put it on. I'm working on that. I do think its great to wear sparingly, to make it appear more natural than caked on. I'm mostly a natural face whenever you see me. My mom wasn't a huge make up person so I really didn't learn how to apply it. I'm now learning a little bit about applying it but just to wear here and there.

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 3 years ago from United States

      I wear makeup whenever I go out just to look presentable enough. Fortunately I work at home so most of the time there's no need for me to put on makeup. A lipstick and a powder foundation is enough for me

    • profile image

      Seriously 4 years ago

      many women without makeup still look hot.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      In my opinion, wearing make up doesn't make you beautiful. It enhances your beauty and it empowers you (somehow). It makes you glow and enhance your self-esteem. I'm a Flight Attendant and we were groomed to put on make up. However, I don't wear heavy stuff on my face but yes, I love to play around it too. Just keeping it to the minimum. And mind you, I can't go out without it specially without my lipstick. (:

      I have a friend who puts on make up even though she's only at home because it simply sets the right mood for her day. It's simply fun!

      And, this hub is fun! I enjoyed reading it and by the way, you are beautiful with or without make up. However, as I said, the make up did enhance your beauty plus the smile!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Great hub! I rarely wear makeup and only own some old mascara. Interesting read.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      Congrats on your win. I really enjoyed this hub immensely. Up and awesome!

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 5 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Thanks for such an interesting read! You certainly did your homework and the statics are amazing. You do look nice in both pictures - but there is no comparison - you with make up - WOW! For people like me in a heavy duty people business, makeup is not a luxury, but a necessity. Voted up and shared - where else? on the FACE, lol.

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 5 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Thanks for such an interesting read! You certainly did your homework and the statics are amazing. You do look nice in both pictures - but there is no comparison - you with make up - WOW! For people like me in a heavy duty people business, makeup is not a luxury, but a necessity. Voted up and shared - where else? on the FACE, lol.

    • heavenleigh707 profile image

      Heaven L Burkes 5 years ago from The Invincible Heart of Neverland

      Great HUB! Congratulations on your HubNugget Award! I used to be in a church that allowed make-up off and on again through the years. It was terrible to be an 18-yr. old trying to break into the business world and not be "allowed" to wear make-up. I learned to get by without it for many years, but when I got out of that nutty church, I was very glad to have fun with make-up again! It is expected in our society. At least I learned that I can live without it.

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 5 years ago from Northern California

      Hi Victoria Anne. You wrote:

      "I am the same person with or without makeup, so why would people rather talk to me when I look like the right?"

      To me, both pictures are equally beautiful, and equal in their 'chatting up potential'. I'm not anti-makeup. However I do feel that some women OD on it. That's especially true for the models on the covers of fashion magazines. Yuck! Using makeup to full advantage definitely requires artistic talent. I'm glad that I don't have to bother with that. Voted up.

    • profile image

      Chuck Fresh 5 years ago

      "I am the same person with or without makeup, so why would people rather talk to me when I look like the right?"

      My observations find two things:

      1. Hair down = friendlier, more open than hair up.

      2. You're smiling in the makeup photo; but only grinning without makeup.

      I'd bet your results might be identical if you had no makeup, your hair was down, and you were smiling :)

    • KrazyKaty profile image

      KrazyKaty 5 years ago from College Station, TX

      Good article! I used to wear makeup religiously but now I only wear it about once a week. As I get older, I'm getting more and more comfortable with who I am.

    • Victoria Anne profile image
      Author

      Victoria Anne 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      @ripplemaker Exactly, makeup should enhance our features, not attempt to completely transform us! Thank you for posting the voting link as well :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Amen! Putting on make up enhances our features. But I also loved the beauty of natural faces...without make up! :D

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination!

      To all who would like to vote for this hub, click here

      https://hubpages.com/community/Mannequin-Monday-An...

    • Victoria Anne profile image
      Author

      Victoria Anne 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you all for reading, your comments are very much appreciated! Please continue to share and vote for me for this weeks hubnugget :)

    • Petfriends profile image

      Petfriends 5 years ago from New England Area

      Great hub and congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. I love make-up and do try to live without on some occasions when I'm home alone and no one sees me and... LOL

    • kristyleann profile image

      Kristy LeAnn 5 years ago from Princeton, WV

      That study you mentioned is really interesting...I've always kind of suspected that people felt that way about women that wear make up, so I guess I was right lol... I love make up anyway though lol... :)

    • shalini sharan profile image

      shalini sharan 5 years ago from Delhi

      interesting hub

      indeed make up gives us confidence and social acceptance

      sharing it

    • christin53 profile image

      Ann-Christin 5 years ago from UK

      I like this hub it expresses exactly how I feel. We should never feel pressured into wearing make up to please others. I wear make up sometimes but only a little I'm just as happy to go without. I think as I've grown older I've grown more confident and don't really care how others view my less than perfect face.

    • ashish04joshi profile image

      Ashish Joshi 5 years ago from India

      I too always wondered that...I prefer plain simple girls!

      Now I get the answer...

      Thanks for this.

      'up', 'interesting' and 'sharing'...

    • Michelle Keiper profile image

      Michelle Keiper 5 years ago

      Dear Plussizepixie, That is funny because I am just the opposite. I wear more now that I'm older. The older I get the less confident I feel.

    • Victoria Anne profile image
      Author

      Victoria Anne 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you all for the comments and sharing :)

    • profile image

      Jhudah 5 years ago

      I don't wear make up. maybe if it is a really formal occasion then they can force me to wear it. haha. I don't even have my own lipstick LOL. but I'm not against though.

      you are right, we should not be pressured on what the society is telling us.

      great hub.

    • plussizepixie profile image

      plussizepixie 5 years ago

      Great hub. Personally as I have aged I wear less make up and feel more confident than my younger self sans make up. However I do work from home and am self employed so the requirement to conform to social norms doesn't exist for me.

    • Bredavies profile image

      Bredavies 5 years ago

      Great hub! I must share!

    • MargaritaEden profile image

      MargaritaEden 5 years ago from Oregon

      I totally agree with you :) great hub!

    • Michelle Keiper profile image

      Michelle Keiper 5 years ago

      I love to wear make-up for me not others. I have always been one of those women who really did not wear make-up as a general rule and have on many occations felt like less of a woman because of it. I always refussed to fall into that stigma. I wear make-up for me.