Whether we like it or not, we judge people. Judgments are a normal and important survival function. They allow you to discern for safety. Whilst other judgments can be pointless, harmful, and divisive.
Have you ever found yourself judging another woman because of the makeup that she's wearing? Or the clothes that she's decided to put on? If you’re honest, the truth will be: yes. We all have.
So let’s explore the different reasons that women wear make-up and get dressed up. Is it always because they're insecure? Constantly seeking sexual validation from men? Or—gasp—perhaps they’re just trying to steal your man? Sacré bleu. These makeup-wearing jezebels...
In this article, we have a look at the different benefits of wearing makeup. And the pros and cons of using your face as a canvas.
The Psychological Effects Of Wearing Makeup
There have been endless studies on the psychological effects of wearing makeup, dressing up, and wearing uniforms. These studies show that makeup and uniforms hold a powerful benefit to mental health, and can increase self-esteem and improve functional performance.
Interestingly one study found that makeup either functions as a camouflage versus for seduction (1). When used as a camouflage, makeup improves your appearance and increases your self-esteem.
When used for seduction, makeup is a tool that helps to facilitate sexual connection and stimulate attraction. Other studies have found that makeup holds a very important function for self-esteem, especially for those suffering from skin problems such as acne, rosacea, and psoriasis (2). And this is also the case for those receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
Individuals suffering from visible skin conditions have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. The use of camouflage makeup for these individuals helped to decrease stress, improve quality of life, increase emotional health, and self-esteem.
“Oh well that’s ok”, you might find yourself saying. “It’s ok to wear makeup if you have a skin condition”. But here’s the thing, when we demonize makeup, we deny these women the experience of enjoying makeup shamelessly.
There is a common narrative within the health and wellness industry that wearing makeup is ‘bad’. It’s now trendy to opt for the fully ‘natural look’ or to shun makeup altogether. Which are also not inherently an issue by the way. But the point is - we should all be able to choose with negative judgment or hierarchy of which is "better". That’s the whole point of feminism. Women’s empowerment is about choices. And female empowerment looks different for each and every woman. It doesn’t necessarily mean that one choice is better than the other.
The health and wellness industry errs on the side of ‘natural living’ and there can be a very dogmatic demonizing approach to makeup and in the attitude towards women who wear it. But let’s get this straight - makeup is not inherently bad. Makeup can be empowering and disempowering depending on how it’s used.
Either there is the assumption that these women are extremely insecure and weak, and they’re looked down upon with pity. "Poor things, they need makeup". Or makeup wearers get tarred as being overly eager Medusa witches who are constantly looking to impress others for sexual validation.
There seems to be a complete lack of awareness that there are so many different and entirely valid reasons why you may choose to wear makeup. And if we are talking about intersectional feminism, women’s empowerment, and women’s rights then accepting women however they choose to show up for themselves, is really key for solidarity.
Makeup and bodily modification has always been a massive part of ancestral culture. From tribal makeup, tattoos, and piercings to haircuts - body modification is a huge part of our ancestral history worldwide. And connecting to makeup and body modification can be a beautiful and liberating sacred experience.
Modern feminism incorporates supporting the choices of all women, even if they’re different from your own. So let’s lovingly accept that many women simply like to wear make-up. And let’s support them shamelessly wearing makeup if they choose—irrespective of the reason, and if we deem the reason valid or not.
Makeup and body modification is not a new phenomenon, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it's an ancestral tradition that has been with us since the beginning of time in every corner of the world.
There are clinical studies that show that self-esteem is directly linked to performance. And performance can be enhanced by using makeup. One controlled study showed that women wearing makeup achieved higher scores in exams than those who didn’t wear makeup (6).
The Benefits Of Wearing Makeup
Is Wearing Makeup A Sign Of Insecurity?
Wearing makeup can be a sign of insecurity, but wearing heavy makeup is not a guaranteed sign of insecurity. It’s impossible to say—as an outsider—if a woman is wearing makeup due to insecurity.
For example, there are many women who wear makeup occasionally, or for specific occasions, that also feel completely comfortable and confident in their own bare skin. We can't assume just because a woman is wearing makeup, or likes wearing makeup, that she isn't also comfortable in her own nude skin.
Do People Judge You Based On Your Makeup?
People judge us based on how we look and what we wear. Clinical research shows that when you are looking more professional, with makeup and in a uniform people are way more likely to trust you (7). Studies have shown that people assume that women wearing makeup in the workplace are more confident, reliable, and professional than those who don’t.
However, it is biased to judge people on their makeup but not other bodily modifications. For example, society doesn’t judge other body modifications in the same way as we do makeup. We never judge people with piercings, or those that dye their hair in the same way as we judge women who like to wear makeup. We never immediately assume that a woman is insecure or seeking sexual validation if she has her ears pierced, or highlights her hair. So why should we do this if she is wearing mascara?
A clinical study on no-makeup selfies found that women observing the photos had better body image in comparison to viewing photos of women with makeup. The women desired to improve less about themselves when viewing other women without modifications. This shows the importance of realistic beauty standards and realistic representation in modern-day advertising and marketing aimed at women for good mental health (4).
The Disadvantages Of Wearing Makeup
Ethical Cosmetics And Sustainable Makeup
If you are interested in experimenting with sustainable makeup in your beauty routine. Then we recommend cosmetics that are gentle on the skin and kind to the Earth then we highly recommend Axiology, Āthr Beauty, and River Organics.
River Organics and Axiology make zero waste cosmetics that are multipurpose products. You’ll find lip balms, highlighters, blush sticks, and lipsticks that can be used anywhere you wish. All the way from your lips to your eyelids. Created with natural, botanical, and non-toxic ingredients, these innovative green cosmetic products are a massive win for us.
You’ll find Āthr Beauty stocking the most beautiful makeup palettes that are rich with vibrant eyeshadows, contour powders, and blushers. Coming in a range of colors from rich violets to nude and earthy metallic tones. Thoughtfully made with hydrating ingredients to ensure that your makeup benefits your skincare routine. You can trust that Āthr Beauty has created their palettes with your overall self-care in mind.
With these amazing makeup products, you can create everything from a natural and relaxed ‘barely there’ look to a transformative mystical experience. Choose your flavor with shameless pride.
The most important part of makeup for self-empowerment is that we have the right to choose to wear, or not to wear makeup without judgment. And with the full support of the women around us. There are pros and cons to wearing makeup. And it should certainly be worn responsibly.
But if we could stop demonizing makeup and the women who wear it, we can allow women to thrive and access self-esteem that can take them on a budding journey of growing confidence. Makeup can provide easy access to your self-empowerment journey. Now, what’s not beautiful about that?
Carmen Lee is a certified yoga teacher, childbirth doula, and wellness coach. She educates on womb wellness, sacred wisdom, and ancestral-connected living. You’ll find her passionately advocating radical self-care and transformational self-empowerment through sustainable beauty and self-love rituals.
Some of the products promoted in our blog are from our online store. Many others are brands we have researched and found to be great examples of sustainable, ethical, and innovative brands in their field, and we don't make any profit from mentioning them in our blog. #CollaborationOverCompetition