First off, I'm completely against make-up for dozens of reasons. I've never worn it myself, see little point in doing so, and think it's kind of a stupid practice. Any way, here are some good reasons not to wear make-up, at least from my point of view:

- Many people are allergic, or at least, highly sensitive to the smell of make-up. They can't help this, but you can help them by not wearing it. Compassion, one good reason.

- Most people have no idea how to apply it "properly", so it looks absolutely ridiculous.

- There is no reason to wear it other than to hide your true self, and this is totally unnecessary. If you're doing it to gain acceptance, or enhance your physical appearance, don't bother. If you must, at least learn how you're actually supposed to use it.

- Many different make-up companies use animals for testing, and I'm not too entirely fond of this practice, especially when it is for something as incredibly useless as make-up.

- It's very expensive, I've noticed. If you've got spare cash, donate it to some charity so that it might benefit, instead of wasting it.

Of course, there are probably some valid reasons to use make-up, by all means, bring them to my attention if you wish. But as far as I'm concerned, it's just another one of those things the world could do without.

Update: Granted, some people may be scarred or something like that, and they might not be happy with the way that they look, but that's simply because there is so much value placed on physical apperance. That is sad in itself.
But, a good quality modern foundation make up can be good for the state of your skin.
  • It often includes a fairly high level of sun protection, reducing the damage that sun will do to your face (so, fewer wrinkles for you). Most decent bases are now at least SPF8.

  • It protects your skin from the city grime and gack that can fill your pores and give you blackheads and other zittish nasties. (Yes, you do have to take it off properly later with holy trinity of cleanse, tone and moisturise.)

  • On cold days, it's another layer of protection and moisturiser to help reduce the drying out effects of chilly winds.
On a more frivolous note: make up is fabulous fun. You get to paint and play with colours and goof around. (None of this natural malarky for me, thanks.)

Yes, good make up can be expensive. Sometimes, the luxury counts. And anyway, splashing out on a hugely overpriced lipstick will do less damage to your bank account than splashing out on a pair of hugely overpriced shoes.
I can only think of one genuine reason not to wear makeup: laziness. All the other reasons I have ever heard carry the same weight with me as reasons not to wear deodorant do. They tend to be facetious and superior, feeble excuses attempting to disguise the fact that the speaker is either too lazy or too timid to take up an extra daily self-care routine.

To me, putting my makeup on is no different than showering and washing my hair: a part of my daily grooming. Yes, I do it because I'm vain, but then again I equally don't wear laddered tights or scuffed shoes because I'm vain: there's no actual law against looking like a dog's dinner. Why makeup is accorded its own category of vanity is quite beyond me. You iron your clothes, you brush your hair, you paint your face.

First off, I see no reason whatsoever not to try and look my best in all times. That's like saying you don't actually want to reach you maximum amount of income for some silly reason. I've got looks, why on earth not make the most of them? What conceivable argument can ever be made in favour of selling yourself short? I just do not get it - and my firm belief is that in fact, there's nothing to get. It's all the protestations of people who are not prepared to put in the same amount of effort as me, and then try to shift the burden of inadequacy onto me.

Secondly, I consider good grooming to be not only an obvious mark of self respect, but also a mark of respect for others. People at work have to look at me and smell me all day. The least I can do is make that experience marginally pleasurable for them. Fair enough, not everyone shares my taste in clothes or appreciates my makeup, but at least I'm trying to meet them half way. Besides, I find that people, mainly the ones who protest against makeup most loudly, actually don't even notice that it's there. Nobody's ever said to me that I'm wearing too much mascara; but if for some reason I show up to work without it, worried enquiries pour in about why I'm looking so "tired" and "pale".

So it's an expense. Big deal. So is a decent steak or a good bottle of wine. What have you got money for, to sit on it? Your own wellbeing is the most important investment you can make, it's not "wasting it". Nobody's making you buy the most expensive stuff, same as nobody's making you buy makeup that's been tested on animals; I sure as hell don't. Makeup is like food or clothing or any other personal or domestic expense: you do it within your means and to your own standards.

As for people spoiling their looks by applying makeup badly, this is certainly something that happens. However, if there was less sneering about the uselessness and frivolity of makeup, then perhaps more people - women and men both - would find it easier to take an interest, as well as to find information about the best uses of it. I learned everything I know from women's magazines - in most other ways a thing of evil, but occasionally full of useful tips - but a makeup lesson or a free session with a sales beautician in a department store are just as good for getting yourself started on both the techniques and the products you would do best to use.

Don't give me all this natural shit. If you're so natural, stop brushing your teeth and see how your popularity plummets. We're too far away from nature at this stage to use it as an excuse to be plain old ugly.

Makeup is any substance one applies to one's skin or nails for either decoration or disguise. The decoration may be subtle (such as glitter or festive nail polish) or fantastic (such as the kabuki-style makeup sported by members of the band Kiss). The use of makup as disguise is sometimes extreme; everyone has seen movies in which actors are made up to look like zombies, aliens, or other inhuman monsters. However, in daily life, makeup is most often used to create the illusion of an excellent complexion.

In short, most people use makeup to cover up perceived or real flaws in their skin. Got freckles? Unwanted shine? Pale eyelashes? Spotty nails? Large pores? Redness? Dark circles under your eyes? Puffiness? Spider veins? Scars? Bruises? Blackheads? Fungal infections? Makeup can smooth it all over and make your skin look (if not actually be) unblemished and healthy.

Wearing makeup is a very personal act that helps some people feel more attractive and confident. "Putting your face on" is a cherished daily ritual for some people. But it is also a highly social act.

If you are an American woman in mainstream society, many people will expect you to wear makeup, and failing to apply it as others do can have negative consequences. If a woman wears more makeup than other women in her social group, she may be deemed to be promiscuous, trashy, or stupid. In some workplaces, a woman can be scrupulously clean and dress well, but if she fails to wear makeup, her coworkers or boss may judge her to somehow be "lazy" or "unfeminine" and therefore a less worthy person. Conversely, if an American man wears noticeable makeup, people may well assume him to be homosexual.

So why wouldn't a person want to wear makeup?

There are many reasons:

1: Health Concerns

Some women have extremely resilient skin; they could slather on a foundation of 80% motor oil every morning and not get a single pimple. Other women at the opposite end of the spectrum are not so lucky; they have "problem" skin that is prone to blackheads and acne and other infections.

I am one of these women. No matter how proudly a makeup manufacturer claims that their product is noncomedogenic and hypoallergenic, it has made my skin worse. During the two years that I worked in an office where women were expected to dress to the nines and wear makeup, my skin was wrecked by my efforts at cosmetic conformity.

So, what's in makeup that could cause problems? Plenty:

  1. Lead. After the recent concerns over unexpected lead paint on children's toys made in China, the Bodycote Testing Group laboratory in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. was enlisted to check lipsticks in 2007. The lab found that about 1/3 of the market brands of red lipstick they sampled contained unsafe lead levels. At toxic levels lead can cause brain and reproductive damage. (Reference)

  2. Formaldehyde. You may be familiar with this chemical from its use in preserving dead frogs for your high school biology class. It's still used in nail polishes as a hardener, and formaldehyde resins are used in rouges and face powders. Formaldehyde is an irritant, and it's known to cause cancer.

  3. Dibutyl phthalate. Banned in Europe, this chemical is widely used elsewhere as a plasticizer in nail polishes. It's also a teratogen that can also cause allergic reactions.

  4. Dyes such as Benzyl Violet 4B (aka Violet 2). The state of California has declared Violet 2 to be a cancer-causing agent. It's also likely to trigger skin reactions in sensitive people. Other dyes can cause similar reactions.

  5. Stearalkonium hectorite. This is used in a wide array of cosmetics; it may chemically change to nitrosamines while on the skin, which are known to cause cancer.

  6. Methylparaben. There's evidence that this common cosmetic ingredient may affect a person's hormone levels and in turn increase the risk of some cancers. It can also trigger allergies in sensitive people.

  7. Salicylic acid. This is added as an anti-acne ingredient to some cosmetics. However, many people with sensitive skin find that it causes irritation that can make skin more prone to breakouts. It can also increase a person's sensitivity to ultraviolet light and make them more prone to skin damage from the sun.

  8. Glycolic acid. This is an alpha-hydroxy acid used in many cosmetics to smooth wrinkles. It can cause irritation in sensitive people; it can also make you more prone to UV damage.

  9. Coal tar. This is used in some lipsticks, mascaras and eyeliners as a blackening agent. It's carcinogenic.

  10. Lanolin. This natural moisturizer derived from sheep's wool is touted for its mildness, but it can trigger severe allergic reactions in those sensitive to it. The less purified lanolin is, the more likely it is to cause trouble in people who react badly to wool. Other natural ingredients, particularly botanicals, can pose the same problem.

  11. Sunscreens like PABA, cinnamates, mexenone, and oxybenzone. These can be allergens to sensitive people, and they can also ironically make a person more sun-sensitive.

  12. Bacteria. Most cosmetics don't start out contaminated by pathogenic bacteria, but it's very easy to contaminate liquid or powdered makeup with bacteria from your fingers or from an applicator sponge after it's touched your face. Makeup that gets shared with other people is especially prone to bacterial contamination, which can cause skin and other infections.

In short, there's lots of substances in makeup that can cause irritation to sensitive skin. Irritation leads to inflammation, which makes skin prone to infection and scarring. Furthermore, a nontrivial number of ingredients in cosmetics might give you cancer in the long run. And that's not pretty.

When a woman who's struggled to find a non-irritating makeup for years discovers that her skin looks and feels better when she simply washes it with a mild glyerine soap twice a day, laziness has nothing to do with her decision to stop wearing cosmetics.

The nature of makeup itself, rather than its specific ingredients, can cause problems.

Inhaling any fine dust, such as face powder, can trigger asthma or seed a lung infection.

Many eye doctors discourage their female patients from using eye makeup such as mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow because particles from the makeup may get in the eye and trigger allergic inflammation or infections. Furthermore, according to the FDA, accidentally scratching one's eye with a mascara wand is a fairly common injury. Damage to the eye can cause corneal ulcers or ultimately blindness.

2: Financial Concerns

Many women find that the more inexpensive a cosmetic is, the worse it looks and the more likely it is to contain irritating ingredients. Good-quality makeup gets very expensive. A woman with limited funds may well decide that no makeup is better than cheap makeup. If she's struggling to make ends meet, she may decide to spend the $30 she'd pay for a tube of Clinique on buying her child better food or on whittling down her credit card debt.

3: Personal Comfort

Some people simply don't like the feel of makeup on their skin. Contact lens wearers may find that dust and flakes from makeup get in their eyes with extremely painful results. A regular eyelash in the eye can be uncomfortable, but cover it in mascara and it's far worse.

4: Interest in Living a Simpler Life

Your last boyfriend broke up with you because you were "too high-maintenance". Your girlfriend cattily remarked, "Maybe if some of us would forgo that 5th coat of mascara, we'd actually make it to the restaurant on time!" Your boss fired you because you're perpetually late to work.

So you decide one day to chuck all the cosmetics you spend hours a day applying and re-applying, and you never look back.

5: Social Concerns

As noted previously, mainstream American society expects certain things of women that it does not expect of men. People may subsequently refuse to wear makeup as their own personal social statements. Some might be:

  • You're male, and don't want to be seen as "freaky" or "gay"

  • You're female, and feel bad that men can't join in the fun and wear makeup, so you won't except in places where they can, too

  • You're female, and are annoyed by peer pressure to wear makeup to be accepted by others, so you pointedly refuse to wear it

  • You believe that the cosmetics industry has grown rich by promoting and exploiting people's vanity and personal insecurity, and you think it's hurt society

  • You think the cosmetics industry is evil for testing products on bunnies

  • You think there's too much emphasis on superficial beauty and not enough on inner beauty; you want to show others that one can be beautiful without makeup

  • You realize that much standard makeup is a stylized representation of sexual receptiveness (such as red lipstick mimicking the engorgement and flushing of lips during sexual excitement) or an effort to emulate adolescent feminity (such as eye shadow mimicking the thin, translucent eyelids of teenage girls) and you think all that is a bit creepy.

  • Your religious leader has denounced makeup as a sinful tool of wanton vanity. Since you don't want to inadvertently go to Hell when you die, you skip the blush and lipstick and go barefaced.

  • You think you look just fine without a bunch of stuff on your face, thankyouverymuch!

So, as you can see, there are a host of decent reasons to not wear makeup, none of which are the mark of an ugly or lazy person.

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