7 Women Reveal Why They Wear Makeup, Wax Their Eyebrows, and Everything in Between

When I was 20, I studied abroad in Milan. In an effort to remain every last inch of my idealized version of Italian chic, I wore all-black ensembles, remained stoic on the metro, and never left the privacy of my bedroom without a full-face of makeup. The routine held up for months until one day, after an endless night of cliche partying at an even more cliche nightclub, I threw in the towel and embarked on a full day's worth of class and activities sans makeup. I had completely forgotten about my foray into bare-faced life until 6pm, when I sat down for the last class of the day and was greeted in front of the entire classroom by my professor who exclaimed, "Oh, Sam, are you OK? You look so tired. You are not wearing any makeup!" I had been shamed by my own teacher in front of my peers for the simple fact that I had elected to go makeup-free. Alas, therein lies one of the many personal reasons I have partaken in daily makeup application every day since.

There are thousands of other reasons why women everywhere engage in makeup application, waxing, plucking, shaving, and an array of other beauty regimens day in and day out. For some, it's the power to blur perceived flaws. For others, its to highlight favored physical features. To many, they are rituals engrained in society and disguised as simple hygiene.

Still, the tasks involved in women's beauty regimens are costly, sometimes painful, and time-consuming. So why do women still perform them day in and day out? Seven women gave me their reasons.

Image: giorgiomtb/Fotolia

To Seem Older

“High school is a scary place. You have all those ‘it’ girls that looked like they were 25 already. With a baby face like mine — which I now rock confidently — I just wanted to seem older or more attractive.” —Jacqueline, 23

To Hide Surface Flaws

“I found a way to hide surface flaws, so I felt I removed one distraction for people to judge me on.” —Danica, 22

To Determine Your Own Narrative

“These beauty regimens — makeup and hair, namely — kind of give us control of how we want to be perceived and who we are. A no-makeup makeup look says one thing, red eyeshadow and black lipstick says another. You get to determine your own narrative when you control your appearance. I think that’s pretty powerful. I think I read in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink that humans instinctively make snap judgements — first impressions — about people in a matter of seconds.” —Kim, 22

To Show My Greatest Features

“Well, I’m not the skinniest girl, so I felt like if my body couldn’t be the picture of perfection [in high school] maybe something else could. I thought at least the makeup helped me hide from my “not so perfect body, ” like people would look at my face and not my waistline, but that’s crazy. Now, I feel like when I put makeup on I get to show my greatest features, like my beautiful blue eyes and my amazing complexion and red hair.” —Erin, 22

To Achieve That Perfect Look

“I think when you’re growing up and trying to figure your look out you become obsessed with trying all the trends and tricks in order to achieve that perfect look. You begin to believe that if you could just straighten your hair or shave your legs then you will finally be satisfied with your appearance.” —Bianca, 24

To Transform Yourself

“By altering the way we view ourselves physically, we’re able to change how we view ourselves on an emotional level. For some people it has to do with erasing sources of insecurity, like acne. For trans women, it has to do with making the outside accurately reflect the inside. But for me, and I think many others, becoming the product of your own imagination is very a powerful spiritual experience; having the agency to transform yourself into exactly who you want to be is empowering.” —Wicca, 22

I Didn't Need Makeup

“I heard over and over in my head the early words of my father telling me I didn’t need makeup and so, eventually, I took pride in not wearing it. I still shaved my legs out of necessity and moisturized my skin because dry skin made me itchy, but beyond that, I often found chapstick to be my only beauty essential.” —Sarah, 36