Raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimized by the no-makeup makeup look. (I am raising my hand.)
With one final flick of the mascara wand, I casually look into the mirror — and pause. “Something isn’t right,” I say. Diving back into my makeup, I spend the next ten minutes trying to “fix” what looks “wrong.” Of course, nothing looks wrong per se, but it does not look like me. And it certainly does not look like the Instagram models we see filled with ease and perfect complexions, exactly what I was going for here. I attempt to lean into the bronzed, just sun-kissed (but not too sun-kissed) face. And like clockwork, every time I try it, I am unimpressed and annoyed with the results.
And while it may be a wildly unpopular opinion, here it is: I strongly dislike the no-makeup makeup look. The look, which is a huge trend, has grown in popularity over the past few years. People have quickly embraced this idea of “natural beauty.” I say natural with a large dose of hesitation because no-makeup makeup is still a “look” — often paired with an article about all the tips and hacks to “be your best self.” But we are all naturally beautiful in our own ways — should you choose to wear makeup or not.
The no-makeup trend fails skin & acne positivity
A quick note: I do not dislike the concept, trend or idea of natural beauty. In fact, I am all about embracing whoever you want to be. I applauded Alicia Keys when she began her natural beauty trek in 2016. I thought Meghan Markle looked radiant on her wedding day, freckles included. Ariana Grande, queen of the winged eye, grazed the July cover of British Vogue last year showing off a completely bare face — a show-stopper. And most recently, Jennifer Lopez posted a glowing selfie embracing #nomakeupday and #lovemeasIam.
But as a maximalist in everything in life, especially makeup, the no-makeup makeup trend has never made sense to me. And maybe that confusion starts with the name itself; because, well, it is still makeup. Quite a bit of it, in fact. A primer. A BB, CC, tinted moisturizer or light-coverage foundation. An eyebrow gel or pen (if your brows are not microbladed). A blush to make your cheeks look *just* flushed. A swipe of mascara (if you do not invest in extensions). Maybe some eyelid primer to keep the oil at bay. A bronzer. A powder. There is a lot that goes into looking like you have nothing on.
Perfect skin: The thing that everyone wants, but only a few are lucky enough to have. But here is a (maybe wild??) thought. Instead of attempting to create the facade of perfect skin, why not take care of your skin instead? Embrace your flaws. Lean into skincare that works. Enjoy makeup instead of putting the weight of the world (and the weight of your perceived imperfections) onto your beauty bag.
Let’s face it. The no-makeup makeup look is incomplete discord with the positivity movements sweeping the nation today. As we embrace body positivity, gender positivity and love positivity, we are wildly failing skin and acne positivity. We are still trying to hide under the “fake” idea of beauty. Fake may seem harsh here, but in reality, that is exactly what it is.
Why is the no-makeup makeup trend fake?
In 2018, beauty-related content had 169 billion views on YouTube. A quick search of “no-makeup makeup tutorials” on Google pulls up over 110 million videos. It seems as if everyone has an opinion on what exactly beauty should be, but your beauty standard should be whatever you hold it to be. No trend or vlog should state otherwise. For example, I wear the same eyeshadow every day because I like the way it looks, and the way it makes me feel — not because it is on trend.
As someone who has worn makeup since she was 13, and someone who lives for the newest Tom Ford beauty drop, I have come to understand that makeup is personal. Why try to fit into a concocted box of natural beauty if you do not want to? Life is about living your dreams, and if your dreams involve a skincare routine that leads to glowing, dewy skin (with the help of retinol like mine), then go for it. If it involves a contour kit and sparkly eyeshadow, do that too.
So, yes, I will take my literal basket of makeup products and create a look that makes me confident and happy. Not as a rebellion against the no-makeup trend or someone who “just wants to see my natural beauty.” Instead, I will do it for me. A girl who embraces her daily maximalist makeup style, using 10 makeup brushes, three eyeliners and four cheek products — but also loves her freckles.