Makeup is for self expression, not first impressions


“Wow, my boyfriend is really going to appreciate this extra line of highlighter on my cheekbone,” said no one ever. The stigma of doing makeup to impress other people has always been around, and it heavily affected me as I began doing makeup at a relatively young age. I felt uncomfortable wearing makeup outside my house because of the fear others would assume I was doing it to impress boys. 

It did not help that my grade school and middle school had a no-makeup policy. The rule made me think I was too young to wear makeup just like the common societal statement everyone seemed to understand. I was frustrated I could not wear makeup to school because it has always been my favorite form of art. Since makeup has always been my passion, why did I need to conceal it from the world?

Photo of ClareDegan courtesy of Anna Mantini ’17

A few years after beginning my makeup journey, I began developing acne before everyone else in my fifth grade class. Soon enough, this became an insecurity, and I turned to makeup to mask the small blemishes. Every once in a while I wore powder to school to counteract the prominent red bumps. I always knew makeup does not make someone prettier, it simply enhances a person’s already beautiful features. However, makeup helped me through that insecure patch of time, and it gave me the confidence to wear less makeup as I got older. 

      Assuming a person is wearing a lot of makeup to impress others is a bold and overused statement. Over the last decade, makeup has become a very well-known hobby for many as social media has become extremely popular. As popular makeup artists began surfacing on YouTube, they began emphasizing that rarely anyone wears makeup to impress others, but rather to express themselves. 

      In addition, the popular tutorials set new makeup trends and allowed average consumers to learn the same makeup tricks as makeup artists. Contouring, strobing, highlighting, and using tape to create winged eyeliner are all tricks and trends that the regular makeup guru uses that were once strictly used by makeup artists. Youtubers changed the makeup industry by reminding people that wearing makeup is not conventional nor an act of impressing the person you sit next to during science class.

      There are many different reasons why people wear makeup. Many use makeup as a stress relief outlet and as a form of art. Some wear it because it is a fun application process and some wear it because they want to accentuate their already beautiful features. All of these are examples of applying makeup for expression and not impression. They emphasize the real reason why people wear makeup instead of the false stigma of makeup claimed by society. 

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