Au naturel vs. makeup: Which is better?


Fact Box

  • The use of cosmetics dates back to 4,000 BC in ancient Egypt, where “makeup served as a marker of wealth believed to appeal to the gods” and included such regularly used items as kohl eyeliner, white powders, rouge, and malachite (green) eyeshadow. 
  • According to a OnePoll survey conducted on behalf of Groupon, women “who invest regularly in their appearance” spend an average of $313 a month on beauty products and services, with 25% allocated to beautify their faces with makeup, hair removal, etc.
  • A Renfrew Center Foundation survey revealed that 44% of women in the US have “negative feelings when they are not wearing makeup.” 
  •  In 2019, over $800 million worth of mascara was sold in the US.

Haley (Makeup)

For decades, people that wear makeup--women in particular--have been told by advertising that they need makeup to be beautiful. That, of course, is not true, but makeup can also be reclaimed as a source of empowerment and self-expression.

Although makeup is not a requirement for self-love and self-confidence, it can be a very powerful tool for helping people build their confidence, especially if they have acne, birthmarks, or other such skin conditions. It also allows people to experiment with new looks and further develop their sense of personality and identity, which is especially important for young people.

Research conducted by Harvard Medical School and the University of Chieti in Italy shows that 'wearing makeup can give individuals a confidence boost by making them feel more physically attractive, increasing feelings of self-esteem, attitude, and personality.' Furthermore, confidence is often linked to higher cognitive functioning, which has led to even more research studying the link between makeup and mental performance. Makeup may not only make you feel good, but it may also be proven to make you more efficient.

Teenagers struggling with acne can feel limited and distracted by stress regarding their appearance. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, studies reveal that teens with acne say 'their skin makes them feel unattractive, embarrassed, or self-conscious. These feelings can cause some teens to avoid trying out for sports, getting a part-time job, or participating in class.” In conjunction with dermatological acne treatments, makeup can be beneficial in lessening the negative mental impacts of acne.

The beauty industry may not be perfect, but that does not negate the positive impact makeup can have on an individual's self-esteem.

Bre (Au Naturel)

Even though the cosmetics/beauty industry is wildly popular--raking in over $49 billion in 2020--makeup isn't what it's cracked up to be. Makeup has been linked to perpetuating negative stereotypes about women's morality and mental capacity, and studies have even revealed that heavy makeup use can lead to the sexualization of women to such an extent that they're viewed as less human.

In celebration of self-acceptance, many celebrities have recently become vocal in promoting a natural look. Aside from being more comfortable with one's natural beauty, there's an array of physical reasons to ditch the use of cosmetics. Allergic reactions to various makeup ingredients are not uncommon, and clogging the pores of acne-affected skin by covering it with a product often only worsens the issue. And many beauty products contain sulfates, parabens, and metals that can cause irritation and damage. Notably, research has confirmed the presence of toxic materials in more than 50% of tested products--especially in 'water-resistant' or 'long-lasting' varieties, most of which often fail to list such ingredients on their labels.

Habits like sharing with others, using makeup not suitable for a specific skin type, failure to regularly clean application brushes, and sleeping with makeup can also be harmful, contributing to oiliness, dryness, acne, bacteria exposure, and signs of aging. As such, going without makeup is likely to improve the health and appearance of one's skin.

Morally speaking, many leading brands still use animal products and practice animal testing, causing harm to helpless animals for the sake of vanity. Finally (and perhaps most practically), abstaining from makeup is a simple way to save significant amounts of both time and money.

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