Natural, everyday makeup or “no-makeup-makeup” is often worn with a feeling of necessity rather than enjoyment. Most girls struggling to sluggishly apply mascara before 8 a.m. aren’t doing it because it makes them happy, but because they feel they must. However, makeup contains the potential to be used as a tool for art and self-expression, though this is rarely the case, especially in a college environment. This isn’t to criticize natural makeup, which can be wonderful as long as it sparks joy in the person wearing it and they’re wearing it for themselves rather than for others.
The global industry of makeup and cosmetics makes $532 billion annually, not by selling necessities, tools for everyday life or entertainment - but by peddling powders and creams. There are many spectacular faces who work in the industry who have massive followings, such as new makeup brand founder Millie Bobby Brown, but at the end of the day, the makeup industry makes their $532 billion a year largely by preying on the insecurities of women. Advertisements display women with perfect skin- too often white women, which is another issue - and spread the concept that the viewer can achieve this impossible standard with only their product, which just so happens to cost some serious cash.
While skin care promotes the health of the skin, makeup ads target covering imperfections and thus indirectly tell the viewer they’re imperfect. That’s not to mention the unspoken of ecological consequences of makeup and cosmetics -– facial wipes make up 93% of fatbergs, which are large masses of accumulated non-biodegradable materials in sewers. Fatbergs are also incredibly expenses for cities to remove; New York City spent $18 million dollars over five years on the removal of fatbergs.
The removed makeup product itself can also find its way into the ocean and can destroy environments and contribute to the extinction of species. A specific example of this is parabens, a common type of preservatives found in both skincare and makeup products, which are suspected to be responsible for coral death and are proven to disrupt hormonal functions in people, leading to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductivite issues.
Statistics aside, makeup can be a valid form of artistic expression. Take a look at the show “Euphoria,” which features characters frequently wearing bold, catwalk-ready looks that include glitter, bright eyeshadow, graphic eyeliner and even stick-on pearls. These examples are striking yet simplistic enough to be replicated at home. It's clear that the characters in the show are wearing makeup not because they have to in order to feel presentable but because they want to.
At the end of the day, it’s incredibly important for everyone, no matter who they are and how often they wear makeup, to have a healthy relationship with their bare face. It’s something to be worn in public and celebrated instead of hidden. It truly is as simple as this: If makeup sparks joy, wear it, and if it doesn’t, then don’t. Wearing makeup should be all about the person wearing it instead of those observing it; expression is not for others to consume but for the wearer to enjoy.
Allie Boulier is a freshman Biology major. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.