The makeup industry has profited by moti­vating women to create an aes­thetic appeal for them­selves, while at the same time elim­i­nating the true purpose of skincare and makeup: to ornament and accen­tuate an individual’s God-given, natural beauty | Wiki­media Commons

Though we often talk about the unre­al­istic stan­dards set by the beauty industry, one may not have expected the next step in the beau­ti­fying process would be giving up our own blood cells. Known as a “vampire facial,” the doctor will draw your blood, extract the platelet-rich plasma, and apply it top­i­cally. Kim Kar­dashian is just one celebrity who has  taken advantage of this process. 

The makeup industry has profited by moti­vating women to create an aes­thetic appeal for them­selves, while at the same time elim­i­nating the true purpose of skincare and makeup: to ornament and accen­tuate an individual’s God-given, natural beauty.

From the time of the ancient Egyp­tians, men and women alike wore eye­liner, eye­shadow, lip­stick, and blush. The ancients used makeup as a symbol of beauty, as well to denote their spir­itual beliefs and social status. It was a tool, meant to express deeper truths about an individual’s con­ception of beauty, fem­i­ninity, and spir­itual real­ities. 

Makeup still serves as an outlet for indi­viduals to ornament their natural beauty and unique style. But with pres­sures from social media and the rapidly-expanding skincare and makeup indus­tries, celebrities and influ­encers have led many indi­viduals to use makeup to change them­selves and project false, disin­genuous mes­sages. 

Though calling makeup a tool is decidedly unro­mantic, one can compare it to the way Cicero instructed orators to ornament their speeches. The ability to dec­orate, embellish, and refine reflects both a human being’s rational nature and the deep under­standing they have of the thing being orna­mented. If one can com­mu­nicate some­thing beau­ti­fully, then he under­stands it better than if he could only com­mu­nicate it simply. If one under­stands the beauty of the human face, using makeup to accen­tuate that beauty sig­nifies a greater appre­ci­ation and under­standing of that beauty. 

Orna­menting what is already beau­tiful is part of human nature. In the same way one  dec­o­rates a church or embell­ishes an essay, makeup can be used as a way of beau­ti­fying an individual’s appearance. 

Makeup should not be used to project an image dif­ferent from one’s own natural looks. The evo­lution of the beauty industry has dimin­ished our nature to the point where makeup has mostly become a form of self-fash­ioning, not a symbol of our ratio­nality. 

In 2018, the global skincare market was valued at nearly $135 billion, and the global face makeup market was worth $31.3 billion. The makeup market is pro­jected to reach a value of $36.5 billion by 2024. 

With an expanding industry, the use of social media, and celebrity-driven skincare rou­tines and products that range from leech therapy to bee-venom facials, makeup has become another way to impress others. The person who can afford the highest-quality makeup and skincare products, master the tech­niques of makeup appli­cation, and gain the most Instagram fol­lowers is the one who has the greatest social and cul­tural cur­rency. This is most often the celebrity being paid mil­lions to concoct another mixture with their name on it. 

Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Goop,” her lifestyle company which sells “GoopGlow Morning Skin Super­powder” and other skincare and health products has been repeatedly accused of adver­tising these items with no sci­en­tific evi­dence of their efficacy. 

While mas­tering the art of putting on makeup doesn’t mean an indi­vidual is nec­es­sarily pro­jecting a fake image, some of these celebrity-endorsed products or tech­niques detract from an individual’s true beauty.  

Even celebrities who don’t wear makeup use it as another way to create an impression on people. The desire to be “raw and real,” as Alicia Keys says, is simply another practice which trends on the other extreme end of the spectrum, this time by not wearing any makeup at all. 

Putting on makeup for the explicit purpose of enhancing one’s natural beauty doesn’t make an indi­vidual any less real. Both overusing makeup or rejecting it as a tool reduces the very human desire to ornament one’s own natural beauty. Though some may nat­u­rally be inclined to wear less makeup, the decision to reject makeup in order to be more “real” can often be an unknowing rejection of our nature. 

Given the size of the industry and the pressure created by social media demands and celebrities, makeup has ceased to be a rational form of expression. It is no longer orna­mentum, but instead a way of self-fash­ioning in the spirit of living skin-deep. This mode of living reflects the deeper problems with a modern society, whose greatest solu­tions come packaged in a $60, three-ounce bottle with some French words on it.

Makeup can serve to create a dis­so­nance between our interior and exterior mode of living. By only using makeup to cover up or project some­thing dif­ferent from the internal state of one’s soul, a person risks dena­turing himself. 

We should and can use makeup to accen­tuate our natural looks. Our ability to create new makeup products and take care of our skin and looks is a sign of our inge­nuity and rational nature. We must, however, cul­tivate these abil­ities wisely and with the purpose of orna­menting our already beau­tiful fea­tures. 


Emma Cummins is the assistant opinions editor for The Col­legian and is a junior studying pol­itics.