Thoughts On Makeup And The #Nomakeup Movement

My thoughts on makeup are simple: I don’t use it.

I am a natural member of the #nomakeup movement, which excuses, and justifies, my laziness. I am too indolent to spend more than 10 minutes grooming every morning.

On the other hand, I have plenty of friends that are experts at beautifying themselves and looking great while at it. I respect that. The thing is, I respect both ways. Each woman is capable of deciding what suits her best. There is no need to demonize anybody for whatever decision they make regarding the use of makeup.

This has been the problem of supporters and detractors of the #nomakeup movement. If you haven’t heard about it, here is Alicia Keyes’s manifesto. It explains the ideas behind it.

When I first read about it, I was all over it. This was my calling! Not using makeup was my feminist expression. An opportunity to explain at a wedding why I am not using mascara or lipstick, instead of admitting that I had miscalculated the start of the ceremony and was still watching TV 15 minutes before it started. I felt there was a new higher power that protected me. A social-allowance.

I do have makeup though. It is in a drawer that rarely gets opened unless Max is researching the bathroom area. What I have I bought 12 years ago, while editing a “how to apply makeup” tutorial for a makeup brand. Editing those videos enlighten me. I realized the power of decorating myself. I liked it and used it. I looked great, too.

That experiment lasted 5 days. After that, I realized that I didn’t care enough to spend 20 minutes everyday in a complex makeup session. Maybe I could simplify it? I tried. That simplification ended up nullifying and now I can proudly say that I tried to ride the makeup wagon to not avail. But I tried.

For me, not using makeup is a matter of time and priorities (I would rather use those minutes to read a book instead), not about feminism. On the other hand, I don’t consider makeup a synonym of femininity. You can be plenty girly without having to use it. At least that was my rationalization. And still is… but, honestly, I am not the most feminine of women to begin with.

What are your thoughts on makeup? What about the makeup movement? Do you think feminists should embrace it? Or, should we let women decide for themselves? Would love to hear.


Images via Lenny

Let Us Connect:
18 replies
  1. Vanessa says:

    I see make up like an accessory. Some people love filling their wrists with bracelets and clipping on huge earnings, others wear the same single pendant necklace beneath their blouse everyday. I enjoy wearing make up because it makes me feel like my outfit is complete (the amount depending on the occasion), but I have learned to weigh the needs of my face with the needs of my children. “Yes, mommy will be wearing tinted moisturizer and mascara to Walmart.” But I’m not going to let my 3 year old wander the house while my 6 month old screams his head off so I can contour five different eyeshadows so I look like Beyoncé. Ain’t no mama got time for that.

    • Mila says:

      I totally agree. Makeup is just an accessory like many other things we use. No difference. In any case, with a 3 year old and a 6 month old, it is almost impossible to have time for anything else but what is right in front of you. Congratulations on being able to use makeup even once in a while!

  2. Carina says:

    Interesting, I’ve been thinking about this topic, too, lately.(and if I ever get my technical issues resolved, I might even post something about it). I think I have a similar philosophy to yours. Generally, I don’t wear make-up, unless it’s a special ocassion. In which case, I do, and totally love how it transforms me. It’s fun. But I don’t want to spend that kind of time or energy on It as a normal routine. Time is precious and It’s not a priority for me. I am very feminine, but make-up and time-consuming hairstyles… Well… Like you said, I just rather read a book. Having said that, if someone loves make-up and has a healty attitude toward the whole thing and it helps them enjoy life – I say why not! Enjoy! I’ll have to check out that link when I have time. Take care, Mila!

    • Mila says:

      I agree completely.Each one of us should decide what they do regarding their looks. I have no personal opinion into what others want to wear. I don’t use makeup because I am too lazy to do it, but I also agree that it makes me look better. On the other hand, I do like clothes and I dye my hair once in a while, so, as you see, I haven’t given up completely… yet. 🙂

  3. Jeanne says:

    I never realized there was a no-make-up movement. I use eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss…2 minutes tops to apply. Instead of make-up I focus on skin care….day cream, night cream, sunscreen…all the creams(!) My skin is so, so sensitive that I have to focus on this. And the intense crazy sun here makes skin care almost mandatory. Oh yes, and hair color….wish I didn’t have to do that…and I guess I don’t have to, but it gives me a lift and makes me feel good. I think any kind of make-up, hair color is about feeling good, more than looking good. Fascinating post, Mila. Thanks!

    • Mila says:

      That seems easy enough: eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss! I also dye my hair but not completely. I like some grays to show. I think they are kind of cute!

  4. Helen says:

    You need to throw your 12 year old makeup away! They expire and start to grow bacteria.

    I love wearing makeup, as you know. I think my reasons for using makeup have evolved over time. In high school, wearing a little lipstick or eyeliner was to fit in, to now, wearing makeup as self care. I feel like I am presenting my best self to the world when I have makeup on. Makeup also helps me feel like I am taking care of myself and helping myself feel good and I feel OK about spending the time to do it. At the same time, I am staying hydrated and taking care of my skin so that makeup doesn’t serve as a “cover-up” per se.

    Makeup can also be a political thing. The makeup industry is huge and it sells a certain appearance for sure. I also think there tends to be some shaming around using makeup, like it’s unnatural and it’s used as a cover up. In any case, women and men should wear makeup or not, whatever helps them conquer the day ahead!

    • Mila says:

      Wow! I didn’t know makeup expired. Then, I definitely need to stop using makeup because it is not worth buying it to use only three times a year.
      I love what you wrote: “whatever helps them conquer the day ahead!” Made me laugh and I agree.
      Now, did you read the Manifesto? I would love to hear what you have to say about it.

      • Helen says:

        I just read it right now. My thoughts are that if you see makeup as a cover-up of your *true* self, then don’t use it. If you see makeup as enhancing yourself or if it makes you feel more like yourself, then use it. I don’t see the use of makeup as being inauthentic or unnatural, which is what I am getting from the Manifesto. If she feels great sans makeup, then she should do it. I think it’s only when you’re using makeup because you feel forced to (like in her business) that it can be problematic.

        • Mila says:

          Very true. Saying not to make up as a celebrity can be risky, as those businesses are all about image. This makes me admire Alicia Keys much more. Nice thought!

  5. Leslie says:

    I’ve been thinking about this since I read it a couple of days ago. I wasn’t aware that there is a no make-up feminist movement. I can think of many other things we women do to be ‘beautiful’ that are worse for our health than wearing make-up. Heels for example. As you know I used to work in orthopedics specializing in feet. Our primary surgery customer: women who wear heels. It seems to me that if the feminists are going to choose to make a statement about not complying with society’s definition of beauty and its implications for a women’s worth, they might consider something with a little more positive impact. I’m wondering why they landed on make-up. It seems very arbitrary.
    That aside I don’t think it is wrong to want to feel beautiful. You are a lucky woman Mila because you really are naturally beautiful with great skin. Many aren’t so lucky and if makeup helps give them confidence and makes them feel great then it is a wonderful gift. I’d never want to make someone feel that if they wear makeup they have succumbed to society’s low esteem of women. It is just makeup in the end.
    As everyone has chimed in it is a personal decision. Part of what we should be doing is celebrating the different choices people make and appreciating/respecting those decisions. I’m not saying anyone here hasn’t done that. Just that it is a great goal as all of us women interact with each other and the world.
    Personally, as I get closer to the big 50 I find makeup doesn’t look as good. Maybe I just need a refresher with a makeup expert, but I feel like a little old lady sometimes … especially with lipstick for some weird reason. It highlights my little old lady lips rather than turning them into rosebuds: So yea, I’m wearing less and less and trying to be okay with the fact that I’m aging. I’m either going to be a little old lady or dead and eventually both. I’d better try to get okay with that. Keep up the good posts Mila!

    • Mila says:

      So interesting to hear what you have to say. I didn’t know your thoughts about using makeup now that you are older. I wonder if other women feel the same, although I see a lot of older women wearing makeup and looking gorgeous. You included. Also, many would argue that almost 50 doesn’t put you in the older lady category.
      I have been planning to do a post about office attire. I have read that rules are more flexible now. I know they are at my workplace, and agree that wearing heels could be something to discuss… then again, I have so many friends that love doing it.

    • Mila says:

      I wish you had the comments on for that one.
      There are so many things to say about your post! First, and in the lighter side, I think is funny that you told Thomas that you wouldn’t know what to say about the makeup movement and then you went ahead and wrote a three pages post about it.
      I think there is a lot of truth on what you wrote about accepting and embracing imperfections. Using makeup doesn’t really help with that, but it is also true that some imperfections are worst than others, and I can understand why some women need to wear makeup to hide them.
      I also thought it interesting to look at this from a geographical and social perspective. I live in LA and a lot of women go natural. There is absolutely no pressure to use makeup, unless you are a celebrity I guess. i wonder if NY is different, and I also wonder what would I do if I lived in an place where all women use makeup. I am not sure I would be brave enough to be the only one not doing it.
      It is interesting what you wrote about women: “Women, we really don’t have these pressures from anyone besides ourselves.” Men might not pay close attention at makeup use, but they do notice when someone looks good or bad, and makeup helps us look better (or at least we think so).
      I am very happy I don’t use it. I am very happy I don’t waste time applying it, and I am happy this movement started, but I agree with you, I am not sure it will go very far.

      • Elise Xavier says:

        “I think is funny that you told Thomas that you wouldn’t know what to say about the makeup movement and then you went ahead and wrote a three pages post about it.” Haha yes. Very me indeed! 🙂

        I agree with basically everything you wrote. Didn’t know that about LA, actually. It’s the same in Toronto, but I didn’t realize LA would be so no-makeup friendly! Kinda thought it’d be the opposite! Very interesting that it isn’t.

        Alright, I will reconsider the comments again.. will have to really think this over, though. Maybe will use an external comment system so I don’t have to moderate.. hmm..


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