1,800 Millennial Women Tell Us About Their Beauty Routines

by Julie Alvin
A Millennial woman with a black curly hair wearing a red lipstick

Bustle presents our Beauty IRL package, which is a tribute to our readers' love of beauty and the way they use makeup and skin care to express themselves, to embrace their identities, and to self-soothe. That could be a genderqueer person who uses eyeliner to express her womanhood, an Asian woman who uses makeup techniques meant to highlight, not obscure, her almond-shaped eyes, or an individual who feels most fiercely themselves when made up like, say, Ru Paul. We are also talking to our readers (and Bustle staffers) about the everyday beauty products they use to make them feel confident and poised before taking on the day, and how they then choose to present that self to the world.

To start, we surveyed 1,800 Bustle readers in particular and millennial women in general about their beauty habits, and about whether they use makeup as a tool to make them feel confident and poised, or whether they do it so as to meet the status quo that sometimes seems required of women. And, we broached that tricky question — when we care about and put effort into our looks, are we just perpetuating a sexist standard that says women have to look perfect all the time? Or are we reclaiming that societal standard and using it as a way to say that our femininity makes us powerful? It comes down to this — can you be a beauty lover and a product hoarder and a highlighter addict and still be a feminist? Of freaking course you can. Can wearing makeup in itself be a feminist act? Absolutely.

Read on to see what our readers think.

Thirty-seven percent of our readers wear makeup every day, while the second largest segment, 22 percent, never touch the stuff.

Forty-seven percent of readers use between one and four products each day, while six percent use 16 or more. And probably look damn good doing it.

Most Bustle readers (53 percent) find one trusty look and stick with it, while seven percent try a new look almost every day (ahem, Bustle's gorgeous fashion and beauty team).

The largest chunk of respondents wear makeup because it makes them feel confident (35 percent) or beautiful (18 percent). Some people, though, may be more likely to break out the bb cream to placate others rather than please themselves, with 11 percent saying they feel required to wear it and four percent saying they are doing it for the people they're dating.

Facial oil is having a moment, but it's still got 48 percentage points to go to measure up to moisturizer. Here are our favorites containing the most crucial skin care tool of all — SPF.

There are plenty of second-day-hair proponents in our midst, and they are wise to rely on that dry shampoo — regular shampooing daily can strip hair of its natural oils and dull shine.

Mascara, mascara, mascara. (But which one? This writer tried 32 of them so you don't have to.)

Other favorites include TooFaced, Chanel, Makeup Forever, and L'Oreal.

Again, most of those surveyed said they more makeup to feel confident, beautiful, and even empowered. Others feel fake with their face on (12 percent) and 28 percent don't feel one way or the other.

Is wearing makeup a feminist act? The jury of our reader's isn't totally sure. Our vote? It absolutely can be.