Do You Let Your Guy See You Makeup-Free?

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

The average woman waits four weeks into a new relationship before she'll let the guy in on a little secret: Her lips are not preternaturally glossy and that smoky eye doesn't do itself. A new survey of 2,000 ladies showed that women wear makeup in front of love interests for a month and one day before daring to go bare-faced. Nine out of 10 women said they always apply makeup before the first few dates, and 60 percent said they reapply makeup throughout the course of a date. One-third said they reapply makeup in the morning after staying over at a partner's house for the first time.

Though all that makeup application sounds a little labor-intensive, I don't think any of this is terribly shocking. I am guilty of all three of the above behaviors. Reapplying makeup throughout a date seems drastic, but it could really be as simple as putting on more lip gloss or powdering your nose. And though I've never rushed out of bed in the morning expressly to apply makeup, I'm not above touching up my mascara before coffee.

It's natural to want to look your best when you're getting to know someone new — or even once you've been with someone for a long time, as Autumn Whitefield-Madrano reminds us here. Struggling with her desire to wear makeup when she's home alone with her boyfriend, Whitefield-Madrano writes:

He’s under no illusions that I’m perfect in any way, including looks-wise; it’s not like he believes my eyelashes blacken themselves. Maybe that’s exactly why I’m drawn to wearing makeup at home now, in his presence anyway: It’s not an illusion at all, but an expression, an articulation of my desire to start off this whole living-together thing at my personal best. Sometimes my personal best will mean a laser-like attention to other things (most notably work), and in those times makeup may well fall by the wayside. Right now, though, my personal best isn’t so lopsided. She writes, she edits, she exercises, she researches, she reads, she cleans. And right now, she does it looking the way she wants.

So there's your reminder that makeup isn't inherently oppressive, frivolous or a marker of insecurity. But it can be:

  • One-third of women surveyed said that letting someone see them makeup free too early on would prevent a relationship from starting. Which begs the questions, is wearing makeup disingenuous? The Reddit community raised that question this week.
  • One-third said they "wouldn't be successful with the opposite sex" if they went out barefaced.
  • 20 percent think a new partner would be "shocked" at how different they look without makeup.
  • 32 percent don't want work colleagues to see them without makeup and 31 percent don't want their bosses to see.

That last one sounded the silliest to me — unless you work in a very few industries, why would your boss possibly care if you're wearing makeup or not? However, another study released today shows the employers side of things and it's not pretty. Now take this with a grain of salt, because the survey was conducted by online beauty shop But the retailer found more than two-thirds of employers said they would be less likely to hire a female job applicant who didn't wear makeup to an interview. Nearly half of employers said that if the job were a public-facing one, makeup and visual self-presentation would be a major factor in their hiring decision. And 67 percent said they disapprove of female employees forgoing makeup at important business meetings.