Your Style Girlfriend

    Style Girlfriend Girl Talk: Why Women Want to Stop Hearing About Your “Favorite Makeup Look”

    21st May 2013

    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.

    All of us.

    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.

    Tell me: Are you guilty of telling a woman you prefer a no-makeup look only to get an eyeroll in return? Is there anything you wish women knew about your morning routine?
    • Jack

      i honestly believe that when the majority of guys say ” i prefer no makeup”, they are referring to the painted on, clown-ish look. No matter what my girlfriend does, she’ll always look better then me, so i leave it up to her. :D

    • Kelvin Kao

      I think, to some degree, when I say I prefer no makeup, I mean I prefer girls who are so naturally beautiful that they can get away with not wearing makeup and yet still look good. Yes, I do prefer the no makeup look, but now that you mentioned it, perhaps what I really like is the “maybe she’s born with it” effect.

      Bad makeup can ruin some good faces though. I knew someone that often wears a lot of makeup. But one day she was participating in an event about drunk driving awareness. Those who participating were supposed to paint their face black and teachers and classmates would not interact with them that entire day, as if they were victims of drunk driving and no longer with us. However, the day when she had her face painted entirely in the same color was the day I realized that she has nice features. The bad makeup had been hiding them all along!

    • Chris Rogers

      Is this picture basically summing up what you’re saying? Haha, came across it last night and thought it was relevant although maybe a bit of an exaggeration.

      • Matt M

        LOL! Hilarious.

      • Style Girlfriend

        This is exactly right, thanks for sharing Chris!!

      • Jessy

        I was looking for this exact picture a few weeks ago. Thanks!

      • Kiel West

        ^On point.

    • Adrian

      My fiancee wears no (actually zero) makeup on most days and I prefer it. In fact, most of the girls I’ve dated wore no makeup.

      It seems silly to insist guys prefer something different than what they’re saying.

      (Also, that’s not to say that people shouldn’t take care of themselves–moisturize!)

    • average joe

      As a child, I was somewhat raised on the outskirts of what many would consider a religious cult that considered make up for women a sin (dead serious). *Disclaimer: I am NOT a cultist. That said, I always wanted my gf’s and now wife to wear makeup.

    • Megan


      • Style Girlfriend

        Thanks Megan…and love your name :)

    • Baxter

      Megan you’ve been so right about this since the BB article—all these fellas saying they prefer women with no makeup are either in some tiny minority of men, don’t realize the vast majority of women they see throughout the day are wearing something, or are just trying be flattering. Or… like Kevin mentioned, he’s thinking about only those gorgeous women who are so naturally beautiful that they don’t warrant makeup. But just because the most beautiful women in the world don’t need make up, doesn’t mean you can honestly say you prefer women in no makeup. Women look better with some makeup on. There’s nothing sexist about that comment in the sense that men would look better with some makeup in the same way (hello—that’s what the makeup people are for at photo shoots, on TV sets, etc.)—but there is a glorious double-standard that works in our favor so we don’t have to deal with it.

      So that’s one point: women look better with make up. My second point is: that doesn’t mean I yearn for her to be in makeup all the time. This ain’t Mad Men. In fact, I like the range of looks. I like the no makeup Saturday mornings watching DVR’d crap and afternoon baseball. I like the natural make-up when we’re hitting an outdoor festival. And I like the full show when we go for a fancy night out. There’s a time and place for everything and she pulls off all of those marvelously.

      The only thing I wish women knew about my morning routine is that I’m so sleepy I’m not going to remember anything you’re telling me before I get two cups of coffee in me. Let’s keep the stories and to-do lists to a minimum… :) Text me when I’m at my best at 10:00 a.m. Otherwise you’re setting me up for failure.

      • Chris Rogers

        I hadn’t really thought about makeup all that much until now, but I think your second point pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject!

    • Jon

      Totally agree Megan (on your point about women). My wife, 99.9% of the time wears zero make-up and she looks great. hot. fantastic. But on the rare date or ocassion when she puts on just a little foundation or mascara or lipstick, (our wedding day, anniversaries, maybe a birthday), she goes from drop dead gorgeous to through the stratosphere-knockout. I totally agree from a women’s perspective…

      But I do draw the line at men and make-up. I understand the “effortless look and that takes effort” I do roll my sleeves and spend 10 minutes making sure my hair looks like I just got out of bed, but no make-up. Maybe it’s just me and my wife and our perspective, but we both feel like a woman should be smooth, make-up can help with that when it doesn’t happen on it’s own, and men should be a little bit rough. Make-up would only serve to “smooth” the man out.

    • Disgruntled

      I’m tired of women assuming our preferences are wrong

      • Style Girlfriend

        That’s okay; I’m tired of men assuming they know when I’m wearing makeup and when I’m not (because usually they don’t!)

        But happy to have your opinion as well :)

    • Jake

      I agree with you.. most guys that say they don’t like makeup are probably talking about the natural look. That’s definitely the look I prefer.
      And about guys wearing makeup… I definitely wouldn’t do it. I used to have bad acne and still have some, and I still wouldn’t wear any.

      • Jake

        Oh, by the way, in the article about the BB cream that you use, you actually look preeeetty cute in the picture with no makeup on.
        …or did you have makeup on and we just can’t tell? ;) haha

    • Adam Wyatt

      I always thought guys meant 2 things when they said they wanted girls without makeup:

      1. they want a girl who’s pretty enough that even without make they still look good.

      2. they don’t want to know when a girls wearing make up, so they just believe she always looks that good.

      My last girlfriend set me straight on how much work the natural takes. I never underestimated that again.

    • Eddie

      The preference of No Makeup, for me, comes from my lifestyle. I am an avid outdoorsmen and am very active. Makeup is not warranted in those occasions and so my preference for women who don’t wear makeup coincides with my interests. Feeling comfortable with the skin your in shows a lot about who you are, and the need for makeup seems frivolous, except for the few obvious outliers. That isn’t to say I haven’t seen beautiful women with makeup on, I just prefer a woman who focuses energy elsewhere. Hope that was PC enough.

    • Churchill

      When I say that I prefer women with no makeup, I mean that, ideally, I prefer a woman that is naturally good looking with no make up. This has no bearing on whether she looks better with make up, which I think is what is trying to be conveyed here.

    • Michael Fitchko

      This concept was explained to me very thoroughly by a girl I dated when I was 14 – I told her I liked her shiny face, she proceeded to aggressively educate me on the difference between “shiny” and “dewy” and the effort put into the natural look so I would never, EVER make that mistake again.
      I don’t think there are any real deep dark secrets about my morning routine (I keep my toothbrush in a Batman cup?). I suppose if there is one it would be the extra effort to maintain that “day-or-two-after” texture to my hair without it *actually* being dirty.

    • TJ

      I agree. As much as I’d like to think that the women I see who have that “natural look” aren’t wearing makeup, I know that’s just not true.
      I don’t think I could ever wear makeup. I’ll moisturize but that’s about it.
      As far as my morning routine goes, I try to get my hair with just that perfect look where it’s not so flat, but it only happens about once a month. It doesn’t help that I wear a headset where I work.
      I’m reminded of a scene from scrubs:

    • ATLien

      I am in agreement with the great 90s country group, Confederate Railroad (shout out to Cobb County, GA), when they said “I like my women just a little on the trashy side”. “Too much lipstick, too much rouge…. gets me excited leaves me feeling confused”. So anyway, I don’t know what all these other clowns are talking about on here….

    • Kevin Reed

      While I think my girlfriend looks beautiful always (since, you know, I’m dating her), I would be lying if I didn’t say I like how the right amount of make-up looks on her, especially when she’s “done-up” as it might be called. I think that’s natural for me, because I put plenty of time and thought into how I look (that’s reason I’m a consistent reader of this site after all).

      For me, I always encourage people to look their best, but that means different things to different people. Now, when guys do a crappy job of dressing up, I feel I have the right to criticize because I’d like to think I know what I’m talking about. But if a girl feels fancy wearing a dress with no make-up at all, more power to her.

      Talking about make-up feels like walking on thin ice for me. I do prefer the make-up, but that’s only because I can appreciate when people take the time to work on their appearance. Hell, I would consider wearing no show make-up if I thought it made me look nicer. Actors wear make-up to look better on screen, why not guys in their day to day lives?

    • Ryan

      Megan I believe it was my comment that you are referring to on the BB Cream article. You’re right – the natural look, with or without make up, is what I prefer. Guilty as charged. At no point however did I say women should skip make up altogether; in fact I wrote in a further comment that well-applied makeup looks good.

      In the photos you posted in that article however, I will stand by my original comment: I much prefer your skin without the BB cream. This was a compliment, I thought your natural skin looked great and didn’t need the cream. Sure it wasn’t a direct “omg your skin is amazing,” kind of compliment, but a compliment nonetheless, which was agreed upon by others. It was genuine.

      Your tongue-in-cheek reply to a similar comment, “Y’all are such sweet liars :),” illustrates that you know it’s a compliment.

      This article, one of your longer ones, has left me bewildered. I expressed an opinion in a respectful manner, I gave what you KNOW was a compliment and now sadly I find myself ducking a metaphorical swinging arm…six weeks later.

      How did my words end up so twisted around?

      May I suggest:

    • ARhere

      Millions of men have been in bathrooms with women after they’ve washed their faces. Millions of men have taken showers with women. Millions of men know what women look like without makeup, have mentally compared that look to women with makeup, and decided they prefer the way women look who are not wearing makeup to the way women look who are wearing makeup.

    • Andras

      A few random thoughts:

      1) Men (especially 44 year old ones like myself) know that women look great without makeup, while at the same time knowing that they can look spectacular with makeup. When we say we like the way you look without makeup, we’re being honest.

      2) We can tell when you’re wearing makeup. Maybe high schoolers or slow college kids can’t, but most of us can.

      3) Did you ever think that “you look great without makeup” is code for “please don’t spend 45 minutes putting on makeup – I’m hungry now and we’re just going to pick up take out”?

      4) Have you ever wondered if the reason that the reason women say that, unlike men, the older they get, the more makeup they need is because of all the chemicals that you’ve been rubbing on your skin for all those years and the men weren’t?

      I’ll toss this out there again – you look great without makeup. And that’s not a lie. But you also look great with natural makeup, and I’m sure you look great with full on red carpet makeup too.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Thanks for chiming in Andras – you brought up some great points! I hadn’t considered your “code” but that is a good explanation. I just wish men and women didn’t need to even USE code around eachother! Such is life, I suppose…

    • Chris Garrett

      There’s too much emphasis on looks in many societies, driving people, both men and women, to make them selves up in a number of ways. We decorate ourselves in peacock feathers to attract mates, whether we already have one or not. Our peacock feathers become our cocoons of comfort to lessen social anxiety and boost confidence. I accept this, but I don’t like it.

      If we focused less on how we look by taking more steps to connect with each other with welcome hello’s and genuine eye contact, women would likely feel less of a need to wear make-up or spend that time putting eight bobby pins in their hair to achieve something they may call art but is, in fact, a means of overcoming social anxiety born from a society that has exploited “looking good.” The same goes for the men that feel the need to roll and re-roll their sleeves three times to achieve perfect lines or those who need to put product in their hair.

      My contention is that we should work more to accept the truly natural instead of tricking each other, because that’s exactly what we’re doing. I suppose for many women who don’t feel they are attractive, make-up becomes the great equalizer, amongst other things, allowing them to “compete” with those they view as more attractive. It’s evolution, I suppose, but evolution also gave us brains, abstract thought, and communication. It gave us hearts and compassion. It gave us so many natural attributes that make us who we are. If we showed our natural attributes a little more up front, regardless of how they “look,” more often, empathy, compassion, and, more generally, love and acceptance of ourselves and each other, would emerge more globally.

      Midgets can’t look like non-midgets. People with cerebral palsy can’t control their muscles. Those with Downs Syndrome, Hurler’s, Huntington’s, or even some forms of autism can’t overcome their genetic make-up to appear on par with the made-up models and well-spoken, rehearsed lines we see in movies, yet their abilities to love, expression compassion and acceptance, and not define people by their make-up, hair product, well-tailored suits, often times exceed the surface-deep practices we’ve endowed as the required status quo in our society.

      I’m a man and I don’t wear make-up. Partially because that was not prescribed to my gender as a convention. Sometimes I don’t shave. Sometimes I do (above and below the waistline). Whatever. I hold my beloved to the same standards and I say, if I don’t wear make-up, there’s no reason she should. Let us be ourselves and see beyond our skin. As humans, we have abilities that exceed what our eyes see.

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