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Discuss: Wearing makeup as part of your daily female routine

The Atlantic posted a great article about women and makeup which I suggest you all read first before coming back to this post.


Usually I wear makeup when I go to work but as of late I have been lazy and wearing nothing.

I do enjoy wearing it, although when I go for long periods without wearing makeup I am not used to it, and I sometimes rub my eyes without thinking and smear my mascara or eyeliner.

Without any makeup (concealer and eyeliner which is my minimum), people have come up to me and told me just how TIRED I look.

Everyone. All the time. “You look so tired.”

If I don’t wear makeup, I get judged for it.

Then if I do wear makeup and then complain about it or the cost of it, I am told to not wear any… but then my professional work takes a hit because women make more money when they wear a little makeup (not too much).

We earn more money when we wear a little makeup. It’s true. There have been studies and if you wear no makeup at all or too much makeup, you get dinged for it financially.

The sweet spot is “just a little makeup to look polished & presentable”.

I couldn’t care less if I just wash my face and go out the door.

I aim for that fresh-faced look but when you don’t cover your face in anything to get rid of the dark under eye circles and you have discolouration, or spots.. it is all very noticeable on a woman, but not on a man.

Or is it?

I mean, do women notice that as much as we think they do, or is it just in our heads that people are zeroing in on how NOT perfect and flawless my skin is?

I have spots. I have discolouration, sometimes I have pimples. I don’t understand why men don’t get scrutinized for their skin the same way we do.

The other day I was talking to a co-worker and only suddenly realized how many discoloured sun spots he had on his face. I really couldn’t care less but it made me realize that I never saw it before.

I never noticed it, but it was there all along and it never entered my consciousness.. but on another coworker, I remembered that I had immediately noticed if she had spots or not.

Why do I have this female-only filter on when I look at people’s skin or faces?

Unless the skin is really bad like with cystic, red acne, I tend not to notice it on men, but I notice the slightest imperfections on women.


In the end, is it because we only expect women to look unnatural and it has now become the norm?


  • Lil Suzy

    I have not worn make up, and still don’t. I am female, 26, three to four years experience. I earn 22/hr and will be planning going to 25/hr soon for my office job. I work at a national company that is located in a very low-standard of living area (600-800 dollars per month for apartment). I’m also a web developer. I think the fact that I never wore make up and always make sure to have a washed and presentable face (hygenic vs makeup) has not affected my professional life much, except in one area: I get more interviews because I look genuine.

  • SarahN

    So I would say, as a rule, I don’t wear make up.

    I chose when I wear it – like going out for dinner, or on a weekend for my own desires rather than any ‘need’. As a rule, I won’t wear make up to work, but occasionally will add a swipe of mascara. When I hadn’t misplaced my bleamish cream, I’d wear that, and since it’s been gone months and I’ve had a break out on my chin, I’ve dabbed on my foundation to tone down the redness.

    I often wear make up when I feel I’ll be other women wearing make up – which explains why I don’t wear it to work. I don’t work with another woman on my floor. There’s a handful on my campus, but I’m by far the most senior (the others are mainly clerical) so I don’t feel any sort of shame or need to compete.

    My partner prefers when I wear make up – even a little. I do agree, it evens my complexion. But I often get annoyed at the removal pain in butt (ie the usual face wash is too mild to remove it). Anyhow, I seldom is ever buy any make up and skip that part when looking at magazines (which I don’t buy, but if I’m at an appointment).

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Interesting.. I think I wore LESS makeup as a result of women at my office not really wearing much more than eyeliner (except for a few women).

      It does make me look more polished but my partner hates it because he thinks it makes me look artificial and less natural.

  • BP

    I enjoy putting on just enough make up to complete my professional look for the office. I do the whole deal, but my colors are usually very natural. The makeup is simply part of my routine, I like how it looks and I am not doing it to impress anyone. I wear skirts and heels for the office, but when I am out in the field (I am a petroleum engineer), I wear jeans, polos underneath coveralls and steel-toed boots. Strangely enough, I feel comfortable in both instances.

    I don’t feel I am judged by my appearance at work, I am thought of well at work, both in the office and in the field. I think it matters more if you turn up with unwashed hair or stained, ill-fitting clothes. If you don’t pay enough attention to how you appear in public, it’s natural (though may be premature) to think you don’t have the same attention to detail in your work. There is only one chance for first impression after all.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I have started stopping makeup at work out of sheer laziness but once in a while I feel like I should wear a bit of slap… I would definitely agree with appearance being a big deal rather than makeup specifically. I guess it all goes together as a package.

  • save. spend. splurge.

    Oh they’re all an oligopoly. It looks like different companies but they’re all owned by very few at the top.

  • SP

    I pretty much never wear make-up. If I feel like it, I’ll put on a BB cream, some eyeshadow, some lip gloss, maybe blush. In my office, I work mostly with men, but the women here don’t wear much makeup either. It isn’t abnormal to have a naked face. And I love that.

    I am with others who suggest that maybe this is just a correlation rather than a causation.

  • Tania

    I would say there may not be a cause and effect, just a correlation. Does makeup actually contribute to women’s earnings or do women in professions that pay more also wear makeup? Of course, society’s expectations on what is professional dress also comes into play in both scenarios. IMHO, too much makeup has a more detrimental effect on the perception of a woman in the workplace than no or little makeup. I wear very little makeup. I’ve been professionally made up and it doesn’t make much of a difference in my features quite frankly. My typical day is tinted moisturizer, groomed brows (but still thick, not thin, just brushed with a little color) & lip color (gloss, not matte). I have colors on my toes and get a pedi once a month (mostly for the awesome massage chair) but I use just a plain whitish opaque or clear strengthener on my fingers (I’m currently digging Julep’s oxygen nail treatment from Sephora). Both fingernails and toenails are kept very short. I did notice since I cut back on makeup that I have less dark circles under the eyes. Part of the puffiness and darkness come from eye makeup due to a reaction from the makeup and also due to the makeup settling into creases. Several of my friends and I have noticed we no longer have the dark circle issue once we stopped wearing eyeliner, mascara & shadow on daily basis. Why do we notice women’s skin more? I suspect it has to do with how we viewing aging between genders. I do pay a ton for skin care by the way but makeup not so much (quality products but hardly purchase anything now).

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Hmm.. I am wondering if dark circles will go away if I wear less makeup. Or maybe we just don’t notice it as much because we don’t see dark circles versus concealer on such a daily basis. If we get used to the dark circles then… maybe it’s a good thing

  • Xin

    Interesting post. I’m not sure I actually tend to notice whether other women are wearing makeup or whether there’s any blemish or anything that they haven’t been able to conceal. The only time I do notice is when someone who tends to wear fairly noticeable eyeliner suddenly doesn’t one day – the contrast there with how the eyes look can be very dramatic.

    I do tend to be hyperaware of whether other people (both men and women) have acne. I think that’s a legacy of when I had moderate, almost severe, acne for a while as a young adult, and I just became very curious about other people’s skin as a result (not in a judgmental way at all because I remember what it’s like to suddenly have fairly severe breakouts and I know that’s not in a person’s control, just in a curious way).

    I don’t particularly enjoy wearing makeup, and I often don’t on days when I’m not going to work. I also never wore it when attending classes at graduate school. At the same time, I sort of enjoy the process or act of putting it on for work, interviews, or going out? I guess I like how easy it is, with five minutes of work, to change how I look in a noticeable (to myself) way?

  • Lisa

    -I almost never wear eye shadow, ever
    -I always wear some eyeliner, blush and do my brows when I go to work
    -If I am not going to work, I usually don’t wear makeup except for some sunscreen
    -I LOVE lipstick, but I don’t wear them to work. For some reason I always feel people would focus/stare at my lips or think I am too “made up” if I wear lipstick to work. I think you can layer on the foundation, powders and such but if you don’t wear a red lipstick people (mostly men) can’t tell you’ve put on makeup. And vise versa, if you just wear a bold lip and nothing else people (mostly men, again) would think you are wearing a lot of makeup. Although I am secretly a skincare/beauty addict I don’t like people at my workplace think I am a skincare/beauty addict.

  • raluca

    “There have been studies and if you wear no makeup at all or too much makeup, you get dinged for it financially.”
    This sound weird because I don’t wear any make-up and I have a sneaky feeling that I’m really well paid compared to my female friends. And also some males as well.
    Yet I don’t wear any make-up. Ok, maybe 5 to 10 times a year, when I’m at a wedding or other grand to-do. But even then, I’m wearing eye shadow and mascara and that’s it. No powder, no lipstick, nothing else. I don’t even know the names of those creams you have to put underneath powder. I didn’t even wear those on my wedding day.
    I have nothing against make-up, but it gives me 0 good feels. I like mascara because it makes my eyes really pop, but if I wore it every day than it would not be special any more. Also, I get pimples and red spots during that time of the month. I just don’t care.
    People do see it when I wear make-up, I usually get lots of compliments. I’m just lazy enough not to trade 30 minutes a day and hundreds of euros per year for “wow, your eyes look nice”. I’m also married and my husband would see me without make-up anyways, so what’s the point?
    My guess is that there are a lot of stories that we tell ourselves that end up being true because we believe in them. And wearing make-up is a choice, just like having kids is a choice, just like getting married is a choice, just like getting into debt is a choice. Of course society will try to put pressure on anyone to conform to the same standards, but if you’re going to give in to society, then you should really give it a thought about what you’re gaining in return. Sometimes it’s more money, sometimes it’s nothing.
    I would warrant a guess that if you wore no make-up for 6 months, people would stop telling you you look tired. Because that would be your new normal. Then you could use make-up sparingly when you go out for interviews, because that’s when the money gets negociated anyway, at least for you, because you’re not looking for a “career” in a company, when you have to look “perky” every day. My guess is you would be just as successful.
    But hey, do what feels good for you :)!

    • save. spend. splurge.

      I wonder if it is a cultural thing too. I find that it MAY not matter depending on your profession. In mine, makeup makes no difference. Either you know your job or you don’t, but if I don’t wear a BIT of makeup I find people don’t take me seriously. It is only until after I have proven my mettle that I can go without wearing any at all.

  • NZ Muse

    I pretty much won’t leave the house without lipstick on.

    If I’m in contacts (rare these days) I pretty much need eyeliner as well so I don’t look dead.

    I SHOULD wear makeup to disguise my massive nose pores but I don;t because I’m so sneezy, it’d all be gone on a tissue by 9am.

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