Demystifying Some Make-Up Misconceptions and Stereotypes

Cosmetics have advanced significantly in recent years, boasting new beauty products that last longer, with a myriad of accompanying innovative application techniques, all aimed at improving what we look like. There’s no shortage of before and after pictures of happy clients by Nigerian make-up artists on Instagram, spotting dramatic transformations, particularly for weddings and other formal events.

These pictures and transformations have drawn a lot of criticism and negativity from men who feel deceived, clamoring against “false advertising” and demanding legal action against “voodoo” practicing make-up artists, to sanctimonious women with righteous indignation born of their natural beauty.

Sequel to my previous post on this topic, and to celebrate the end of my #NoMakeUp Challenge, this post will attempt to clarify some of these mistaken beliefs and stereotypes by telling you what make-up for women really is.


  • Wearing Make-up Portrays a Lack of Confidence
    This common misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Most women who wear make-up regularly can go just about everywhere without wearing any, you just might not notice or recognize us as quickly as you would if we had bright red lipstick on.
  • Women Who Wear Make-up are Dumb
    The assumption that knowing how to doll-up and spending time doing so somehow translates to the measure of a woman’s IQ is completely unfounded. This assumes that smart women don’t spend time on their appearance. But smart women know that looks do matter, so you’ll find that a good number of women, even those in high political positions, sparing a few minutes to powder up.
  • Women Wear Make-up to Impress Men
    This is obviously misogynistic but with some truth. Most women would wear lipstick on a date night to make them more attractive. However, few straight men know the difference between Maybelines Red and MAC’s Ruby Woo. If external validation is even a consideration, I think women make-up to look just as good as other women do.
  • Women who wear make-up are Expensive and Vain
    I think this is really a question of picking one’s poison. We are all “vain and expensive” in some areas of our lives. Some women like bags, other’s shoes. Some men love fancy cars and expensive watches, others love trainers. We love make-up and invest in it as our finances will allow. Better still,  not all make-up brands are expensive. There are a tonne of dupes and drug store versions that are gentle on the pocket.
  • Men don’t like Make-up
    This is a popular opinion with significant basis. It turns out that men SAY they prefer the bare-skinned, freckled, pockmarked natural face, but when faced with the choice of selecting the better looking image, most of them admit that the made of face is better looking than the plain Jane.  Don’t get me wrong, natural is cool, but side by side, most men choose the made-up face.


“‎Lipstick is really magical. It holds more than a waxy bit of color – it holds the promise of a brilliant smile, a brilliant day, both literally and figuratively.”
― Roberta Gately

  • Make-Up is Art
    For women like me, make-up is art, pure and simple. Like fashion designers, we like to have people wear our work, and of course wear some ourselves. It’s an act of self-expression, our perspective and mood. We present ourselves as works of art to the world and allow people appreciate our skill and effort.
  • Make-Up is about Celebration
    The perspective that make-up is to hide one’s flaws is one-sided. In fact, it’s quite the contrary, make-up highlights the beautiful features of the natural human face, enhance bright eyes or perhaps high cheek bones.
  • Make-Up is Identity
    Make-up is femininity and largely gender identity. Just as people wear different clothes for different occasions so do we wear different kinds of make-up to match our clothes or to suit some other purpose. Make-up really is as much deception as clothes are.
  • Make-Up is Therapy
    For some women, making-up is time-consuming and tedious,and as a daily routine it is unimaginable. For others however, it’s a therapeutic ritual. I look forward to my mornings with my mirror. It’s intimate quality time spent focusing on the day or event ahead. While I’m highlighting my nose I am planning and working up the courage to conquer the day ahead. In the words of Bobbi Brown “We are able to transform ourselves, not only how we are perceived, but how we feel,”
  • Make-Up can boost your Career
    Research suggests that make-up supposes that a woman possesses many important qualities employers want. It assumes that a woman is friendly, skilled and dependable. “As reported by the New York Times, Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said the conclusion that makeup makes women look more likable — or more socially cooperative — made sense to him because “we conflate looks and a willingness to take care of yourself with a willingness to take care of people.”
  • Make-Up is Fun
    Making-up as a shared experience is a lot of fun. Sharing products, comparing their performance and our experiences makes for great conversation and bonding between friends.

To round this up, I don’t know of any woman who wakes up with the intention to deceive anyone about what she looks like, and no man out here thinks women are born with smokey eyes and blood red lips. So being deceived by make-up really is up to you.
I think the general concept of beauty is flawed and is a driving force behind the extent some women go to alter their looks even surgically. Beauty isn’t about or limited to just what we look like on the outside.
Beauty is how we feel about ourselves. Wearing make-up celebrates our faces, skill and being. Doing it well and loving it shouldn’t be a bad thing.

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