Why do girls wear make-up?

Research done in 2013, found that the average American woman will spend $15,000 on make-up during her lifetime and at least 20 minutes a day applying it. As a girl I understand the struggle of spending way more time and money than I should at Sephora/Ulta, trying to find the perfect lipstick shade or foundation for my skin type; the struggle of accidentally waking up late and quickly trying to make that perfect eyeliner wing. But, why? Why do women put so much effort into making themselves look “good” – aren’t we all perfect the way we are?

A BuzzFeed survey asked women why they wear make-up and among the responses were “because it’s fun” and “because it makes me feel more confident”. I think these are in fact the two main reasons and so I’ll be looking at them specifically. In today’s world, confidence is considered the key to success, so it makes sense women spend that extra time doing whatever they need to, in order to feel better about themselves. On average, women look at themselves in a mirror 16 times a day and unlike men who look at themselves to admire their favorite features, they focus on their insecurities. A poll done in the UK, showed that 85% of women said wearing make-up helped them feel better on a bad day and 78% believed wearing make-up meant they would be treated better by other people. 

YouTube sensation, NikkieTutorials created the movement, “The Power of Make-up”, where she films herself applying make-up to only half her face. The point of the video was to show her viewers that make-up is supposed to be fun and it’s okay to experiment with different products and create super dramatic looks. Photographer, Steve Osemwankhae made a series featuring a hundred women with their bare faces and thoughts on wearing make-up. The most common comments made were about self-expression, having fun and actually being okay without any make-up.

This video by Em Ford went viral a few months ago so you might have already seen it but I think it perfectly captures what girls often feel. (You should definitely watch if you don’t understand why girls wear make-up.)


Regardless of whether you wear make-up or not, remember you are beautiful. (That sounded a lot less cheese-y in my head, haha).

Other sources:


5 thoughts on “Why do girls wear make-up?

  1. Katherine Yuen

    I’ve never been one to wear much makeup on a day-to-day basis, but that’s only because I try to sleep for as long as possible before getting out of bed to go to class. However, I do wear makeup for special situations or events, like prom, interviews, and anywhere I know that there may be lots of photos taken. I think one of the underlying reasons that I don’t wear much makeup is because I’m afraid it will cause me to break out. As much as makeup may make people feel more confident, I know that acne, even when hidden under well-applied foundation, concealer, and setting powder, can bring down people’s confidence significantly. I looked into this whole makeup causing acne concern of mine and I found out that it’s probably true, but that if we shop for makeup without fragrances and that won’t clog our pores, that could help to prevent it. Also, removing your makeup and washing your face is extremely important!

  2. Harper Nardone

    Makeup is one of my favorite topics to randomly discuss with people. You did a great job of pinpointing some of the main reasons girls like or want to wear makeup – aka to feel more confident or just because it is fun. The concept of makeup also brings with it lots of argument. I’ve read online countless times how women have to fight against the ideas that we wear makeup to impress boys, or that (like shown in Em Ford’s video) we are lying to people because of what we really look like under it all. This video is heart breaking because it is unfair to see people get judged for something they love to do and that makes them feel better about themselves – it is no one’s intention to “lie” to the other sex. Makeup can branch into even bigger issues as well, possibly in how it can be a solution for people with body dysmorphic disorder, which is seeing an imperfection in yourself worse than it really is and never being able to stop thinking about it. In the article I listed below, an example of a feature someone may not like is their slightly curved nose. However, they see a terribly unrealistic image of it when they look in a mirror. For this characteristic, a girl (or guy) may want to contour his or her nose in order to feel more comfortable about it. People should not be ridiculed for their choices, especially when so many are talented in the art of makeup!


  3. Mairead Donnard

    This was really interesting to read. I know for myself, I wear makeup only for special occasions but I find it sad that some people feel like they need to wear it. I was also shocked to learn how much money is spent on makeup. That money could be spent on much more important things. The video that you posted along with this blog definitely had an impact and made me think. Really a great, informative blog. Here is an article you might find interesting about unrealistic makeup standards: http://www.columbiachronicle.com/opinion/article_7a34a218-76d8-11e6-b022-dfb1ba4d9adc.html

  4. Olivia Frederickson

    This is a really interesting topic and something I am very familiar with. Last year, I wrote a research paper focusing on the definition of beauty and the scientific reasoning behind it. Makeup, as you focused on, makes women feel more confident and happier with the way they look. To put this into a more scientific tone, what makes a “beautiful face” is the dimensions and symmetry of the facial features. Technically, a face that is more mathematically correct, is more beautiful. In this article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/12/the-science-of-sexiness-why-some-people-are-just-more-attractive/ , they explain how the symmetry of the face explains beauty. This can explain why makeup truly can make someone more attractive. In the end although, I do agree with your final statement:)

    1. Emaan Ali Post author

      Oh, that’s a cool research paper topic!
      Yes, you’re right! I actually just learnt about that this week in my Psych 212 class, it’s a developmental psychology class so the professor was telling us how symmetrical face babies are found “cuter” than non-symmetrical face babies. The proper word for this is “neoteny” which is the retention of bad traits in humans, so as we evolve we have traits that are considered attractive.
      The article you shared was quite fascinating, I thought the bit about having a longer ring finger vs index finger means you’re going to have more testosterone really interesting. Scientists/researchers are always looking at the strangest things, haha!

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