I, the Geeky Girl Glam girl, used to think makeup was not for me. Yep, I thought it was for “those girls.” The girls with perfect bodies, doting boyfriends, short shorts, and designer handbags in high school (Can you tell I grew up in Orange County, CA?). Those girls, I’m ashamed to say, were always vapid and plainly stupid in my mind, because it made me feel better to think, “hey, at least I have talent and smarts.” Makeup, or the extensive knowledge of such, was evidence of their complete and utter dummy-headedness. They had to fill their empty skulls with something, right?
Guys, I was so wrong.
Fast-forward a few years later, and there is absolutely no separation between my nerdiness and makeup enthusiasm. In fact, they go hand in hand. If you’ve ever experienced curiosity surrounding that vast array of colors radiating from the makeup aisle, feel free to explore, even if you think it’s not for you. The more you look into it, the more you might find yourself busting some stereotypes. Here are some fun little reasons to give makeup a chance.
Makeup is science.
Every cosmetic product out there has gone through a series of tests and formulations at the hands of a chemist. The more you work with cosmetics, the more you understand what ingredients make a quality product. Most makeup nerds love playing around with lipsticks and eyeshadows just for the sheer joy of finding out what gives it a certain texture, pigment, or finish. It’s a little like that magical moment when you get your very first chemistry set as kid, and you’re determined to unlock the magic of each little potion. Before you know it, you’re an ingredient nut, reading every label and touting the benefits of natural oils or the exfoliating properties of alpha hydroxy acids!
Makeup is art.
The face is a just like a painter’s canvas, only it’s 3-dimensional, ever changing, and capable of laughing, crying, smirking, and scowling. There’s a lot more to applying makeup than, “this goes on your eyes, and this goes on your lips.”
A good makeup artist familiarizes themselves with the contours of the face, textures of different skin types, and how to work with them for the desired effect. Plus, each person only gets one canvas per lifetime, so you better know how to take care of yours!
Makeup is an essential part of the film and theatre industries.
Can you imagine Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Edward Scissorhands, or The Walking Dead without the use of makeup? How about Pan’s Labyrinth, or any of the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings films? On the flipside, can you imagine how much better Prometheus would have been if Guy Pearce didn’t have such a hack job of faux-wrinkles on his face? Okay, so maybe better makeup wouldn’t have saved that movie from terrible writing and gaping plot chasms, but you get the point.
Makeup is not about looking pretty.
Building on the previous point, using makeup to look “pretty” is only utilizing one very small aspect of what cosmetics can do. Especially in terms of personal style, attempting to fit some preconceived idea of prettiness can be boring, and even oppressive. Instead, use makeup to reflect a mood, era, or interest, even for day-to-day wear. Whether you’re into nearly nothing looks or vivid statement lips, being yourself is always more interesting than being someone else’s pretty girl. Faces are only young for a couple years anyway. But you can always be striking, unique, and elegant at any age by developing your own perspective.
Makeup is history.
There are people who pay obscene amounts of money collecting vintage cosmetics. Why? Because you can learn about the everyday life of people who lived decades ago, just by studying the packaging, ingredients, and uses of these intimate items. Sure, we have advertisements and editorials from bygone eras, but what did the average woman wear every day? What kinds of characteristics did women want to see in themselves and why? Maybe they were after innocent, doll-like eyes. Perhaps they valued a full, sultry pout. Or maybe wartime changed their desires altogether, and they wanted to see convenience in their products and strength in themselves.
Of course, learning about makeup in the olden days should make you think critically about the beauty industry today. When you see an ad, ask yourself, what are they really selling here? What messages do I send with the way I present myself? More importantly, what about our culture makes advertisers believe we want freakishly long lashes, a nauseous facial expression, and the undying affections of every male within a five-mile radius? Food for thought!
These deep questions were brought to you by Makeup. Yes, makeup! It’s not just for “those girls” anymore.
Do you wear makeup?