Tag Archives: Makeup

It’s Not a Debate if Everyone Agrees

Photo by Flicka Catherine.

Photo by Flicka Catherine.

This series of essays about whether women should wear makeup caught my eye.

Of the seven entries three say we should wear it. The other four think it’s a personal choice but all but one of them either regularly wear makeup or are married to women who do.

No one seriously questions why women feel they need to wear makeup or argues that our culture would be better off without it. No one even asks why we’re still having this debate in 2013, as if what a woman puts on her face is at all relevant for the 99.99% of us who aren’t professional models.

I know people who’ve worn it daily, occasionally or not at all for as many years as I’ve known them. Sometimes we gather in the same room and proceed to not care at all about what other people do with their skin.

If we were bored I suppose we could broach the topic but it would be an actual debate. One in which some think makeup is an expensive waste of time (or worse!), others who never leave the house without wearing it, and still others who find it useful for, say, formal pictures.

Framing these essays as a debate is like me asking if Star Trek: Voyager was the best drama of the 1990s or of the entire 20th century while one person argues that the last few seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation were better.

Trekkies may care but everyone else is wondering why the frame for the original question is so lopsided.


Do you find yourself equally irritated with loaded questions? What is the point of hosting a debate so heavily weighted from one perspective that everyone more or less agrees with it?

Most importantly, which series was better: Voyager or TNG? 😉

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What If I Don’t Wear Makeup?

Photo by Anita Martinz.

New visitors to this site continue to find it through some very interesting search log queries. Recently someone found On the Other Hand by typing this into their search bar:

What if I don’t wear makeup?

This is (probably) what would happen:


From what I’ve seen over the past 29 years, most people are far too wrapped up in their own lives to notice what’s going on with everyone else.

The only time I immediately notice other people wearing makeup is when it’s obviously the wrong colour for their skin tones – think someone wearing a foundation that’s four or five shades darker (or lighter) than their actual skin tone.

This applies to men and women equally. I’ve worked with people of both genders for months, sometimes years, before looking up one day and wondering, “hey, when did Joe/Jill start wearing eyeshadow?”

Maybe other people notice these things but I’m not someone for whom this makes an impression.

Here are some things I’ve noticed that actually do make a difference:

  • Making small talk.
  • Offering up your seat to someone who needs it more.
  • Finding an outfit that makes you feel good. I’m anything but a fashionista…but there’s something to be said for walking down the street with the bounce in your step that comes from wearing flattering clothing.
  • Contacting someone you haven’t spoken with in a while just to say hello.
  • Smiling.

By all means wear makeup if you like how it feels and looks.

Just don’t do it because you think other people will have an issue with it if you don’t. We really don’t care.


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Makeup-Free Special Occasions

Some of the most popular search terms that lead new readers to On the Other Hand have always been related to not wearing makeup. Last year I blogged about why I don’t wear it but I’ve never talked about makeup-free special occasions in depth.

Until now.

Unfortunately there is still a double standard in this area. Women are expected to spend time, money and emotional energy purchasing, applying and reapplying makeup in order to look presentable. Men are not.

So what do you do when you’re headed to a wedding, job interview, family photo shoot or another social situation that traditionally expects women to wear makeup?

1. If you’re transitioning from wearing makeup to not wearing it consider the lipgloss effect. That is, using one highly noticeable product like tinted lipgloss can give the illusion that you’ve used other products as well.

You might not be ready to give up lipstick or eyeshadow right now, but what about cutting out blush, foundation, eyeliner and mascara?

2. Remember, unless you’re using makeup to complete a (pretty awesome, I’ll admit) parrot costume most people don’t notice these things.

Quick, think back to the last time you sat in a meeting or had dinner with family or friends. Who in the room was wearing makeup? Which products and colours did they use?

I’ve only ever paid attention to makeup that is unevenly applied or obviously the wrong shade or colour for the person using it.

3. Don’t talk about it if you’re worried it will be an issue. Sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission in this situations so to speak. 😉

In the long term it would be great if all of us who didn’t wear makeup were open about it. Just as with any other unconventional decision it’s easier for someone to better understand it if they know someone who does (or, in this case, doesn’t) do it.

But there are times when it’s better not to be the first to bring stuff like this up.

4. It’s easier to “fool” people if you’re otherwise dressed and behaving as they would expect for the occasion. Wear a nice outfit. Pick an appropriate hairstyle and some great accessories for the event.

5. Etiquettehell.com uses the term beandip to describe polite, subtle topic changes when you’re uncomfortable with where the conversation is headed . So if someone has a strong opinion on what you’re (not) wearing, ask them about the weather, their kids, or anything else to sidetrack the conversation.

Ultimately the only person this affects is you. It’s your body, your money being spent,  and your time being used on applying and reapplying products. There’s nothing wrong with other people wearing makeup but this isn’t something that should ever be pushed. It’s your decision, not theirs and if you’re confident about your decision others are less likely to even see it as an issue.


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Sometimes It’s a Molehill

Last fall Drew’s parents arranged for the family to gather for a long overdue family photo. My first thought: can I get away with not wearing makeup for this event?

His mom was concerned about color coordination and everyone looking his or her best for the photo. Choosing complimentary outfits wasn’t an issue. I’ll wear almost anything but I really didn’t want to deal with an itchy, irritated face for the next few days just to satisfy social expectations.

Normally I can sniff out a compromise in almost any disagreement or misalignment of expectations. This wasn’t one of them. Knowing the expectations and traditions of certain family members I braced for friendly persuasion and mentally prepared a list of reasons why I was declining to participate in this ritual. The conversation began…

Family member #1: “Lydia, I noticed you’re not wearing any makeup. Do you want to borrow some of ours?”

Me: “No thanks.”

Family member #2: “You don’t need it, anyway.”

The introduction, climax and conclusion of a conversation I’d spent so much time preparing for ended up occurring in a handful of sentences. It was the last thing I’d expected to happen.

Sometimes there are mountains.

Sometimes there are molehills.

Slowly I’m learning not to assume how steep the hike will be until it actually begins. 🙂


Have you overreacted to anything recently? Is there anything that reminds you not to worry about what will happen tomorrow, next month or next year?

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6 Reasons Why I Don’t Wear Makeup

Reason #1: It’s expensive. The average woman will spend about $13,000 on makeup in her lifetime or about $200 a year. If I instead invested that $200 a year, assuming a 6% compound interest rate,  I’d have $34,866.68 in 40 years (unless the economy implodes, of course. 😉 )

Reason #2: Everyone else is doing it is a descriptive, not prescriptive, phrase.  When I was about twelve my Mom noticed that I wasn’t shaving my legs and told me that it was something I needed to start doing. In her mind it was part of being a woman. “I’ll shave my legs when Dad starts shaving his,” I said. She disagreed. So for a time I listened to her although I never was able to get any real answers as to why I was expected to do these things. Makeup, to me, belongs in the same category of cultural weirdness as expecting women to shave their legs or men to shave their faces. How is it of any concern to other people what sort of grooming or personal care one does or does not participate in?

Reason #3: The Story of Cosmetics.  

Reason #4: Almost every brand of makeup I’ve ever tried has aggravated the heck out of my skin.  After I stopped using anything other than soap and water on my face my acne and other skin issues cleared up almost completely.

Reason #5: I don’t like the way it feels. On the rare occasions that I do walk around with stuff on my face, I notice it all day. It itches, it tingles, and if I perspire it slumps into the creases between my nose and cheeks like half-melted snow in a ditch.

Reason #6: I like the way I look without it.

Ultimately I don’t care whether anyone else uses makeup, perfume, cologne or any of the other 1001 products that the media insists we need to purchase in order to have a happy, fulfilling life. What we need are more options than, “Of course you have to use these products, you’re a (wo)man!” or “It’s unprofessional not to use them,” or “You won’t be taken seriously without them!”


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