Remember this before/after photo, and all the accompanying questions it raised? Betcha didn't realize makeup-wearing could be so darn moral. Is attracting others with an artificially enhanced face “deception”? Do people have an obligation to present some sort of “real” face to society? Can there be too much makeup? Is it unfair to guys? Should guys be wearing makeup, anyway? I could rhapsodize along these lines of thought all day.
But the one thing we didn't discuss when analyzing that extreme makeover photo is that, well, some people do this sort of thing for a living. They're called makeup artists, and they approach this sort of wild transformation from a totally different point of view — literally. (Mostly likely while standing over us in a salon, wielding eyeliner with the precision of a heart surgeon.) They eat this sort of makeover for breakfast, and they do it on the reg. So if certain smug writers would just stop philosophizing over the ethics of makeup for one second, and ask the people who actually deal in it what they think, maybe we'd all learn something.
I contacted a number of working makeup artists (emphasis on working — these are not just girls who enjoy trying on colored eyeliner), showed them this before/after picture, and asked them if they thought there was ever a psychological downside to wearing “too much” makeup. Here's what they told me:
Courtney Marzilli, Bliss and Beauty:
Any time I am doing a makeover, I always have this idea in my mind: "When wearing makeup you should look like you at your most beautiful." Emphasis on looking like YOU! That being said, makeup should be fun and used as an outlet for people to get creative, do something daring. Who are we as makeup artists to gauge what is too much or too little for someone? Yes, there are times when I have voiced my professional opinion on some clients, but I believe you can always find a common ground. Some people love lots of eyeliner, or a bold lip, etc. It's all preference and that's what makes it FUN. There is no right or wrong.
This picture is a big change for this women. She looks glamorous; to me, it's more of an evening look. Would I wear this much day-to-day? No, but again, if she feels good then that is all that matters.
Charlotte Jarrard, HeadStrong Makeup:
My knee-jerk reaction to this is that I think people take makeup far too seriously. If you are spending money, time, and thought on trying to look like someone else, then there lies the problem. If you use makeup in any 'amount' or style and it makes you feel good about yourself, then good for you. I think this issue is all about balance. There is a great amount of confidence and a celebration of beauty that comes from makeup and styling. I personally relish preparing for a night out, etc., or wanting to look attractive in the workplace — and I equally enjoy having days where I am bare-faced.
Christina Choi, Christina Choi Cosmetics:
I feel this look compliments her. The color palette is natural, but applied dramatically. Because of this, her features are enhanced in a complimentary way. This is a great example of what makeup can do.
Nicole Brudd, ACCHAA Spa:
As an artist I don't see a face as a before picture — it is an originally beautiful palette. Makeup can provide a sense of comfort by enhancing naturally beautiful features. Everyone strives to be perfect, and in some women's minds, this is the way to achieve that desired persona. I always see makeup as an opportunity to bring out beauty or create an exotic alias if desired.
Caroline Cayetano, freelance makeup artist:
My personal reaction to the Reddit photo was "Wow! The makeup done on her is beautiful." I noticed the makeup, and not her. I'm not judging her own beauty, but commenting on the artist who did such a wonderful job. I view makeup as a work of art, not something girls wear on their face to make them feel better about themselves. (Granted, there are a lot of girls who feel differently — and I think those are the ones who had a negative reaction to the Reddit picture.) To me, people can do whatever they want with makeup. In fact, the new makeup trends are crazy lip colors (blue, green, yellow) — who's to say that that's weird, or even unpretty? It's just makeup, and at the end of the day, it wipes off. It's just a form of expression. As women, we're fine wearing sweats one day and Spanx the next; how is makeup any different?
Personally, I don't wear makeup to hide who I am or to be a different person. I do it because I can. I do it because I love playing with colors and being able to transform myself. I love that we have freedom to do what we want with makeup. There might be many tutorials on how to get the 'perfect' look, but my number one rule in makeup is, "There are no rules!"
Image: @ralphpeople via Instagram