Should You Wear Makeup & Invest In Cosmetics?

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2007-03-2939

A lot of us ladies wonder about just how much makeup we should be buying to make ourselves look our best. So I began to debate myself again, like many times I had in the past: Uh-oh, should I upgrade my appearance or should I continue to scrimp on cosmetics and clothes? It’s the age old question for women: how much should I fork over to make myself look attractive? With a birthday that just passed, it seemed like something I should be pondering.

I haven’t bought makeup in years other than the casual stick of lipstick. And now I wonder how much beauty is in fact, worth the bucks. I was born in a country where appearance is held in high regard (seemingly more so that in the United States), such that whenever I have reunions with former classmates from my childhood during visits to the homeland, everyone is done up to the hilt while I stand out with a countenance that is as hip as “plain” can be. When I see old friends, I marvel at their serious makeovers: like that of the once pudgy girl with a mustache who turned into a skinny vixen with a well appointed coiffure. My spouse and I snicker about this a lot and have christened this old girl gang with the term “bun ladies”, for their incredibly voluminous and stiffened hairdos (or head bonnets).

I took a moment of self-reflection to scan these pictures for some lessons. And these pictures spoke to me….somewhat.

Renee Zellweger

Renee Zellweger
      Halle Berry

Halle Berry

Lisa Kudrow

Lisa Kudrow
      Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore

Alicia Silverstone

Alicia Silverstone
      Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz

Afterwards, I got inspired when I watched a few photoshop videos 😉 which reminded me that everyone has potential.

Should I Wear Makeup & Invest In Cosmetics?

As for the question of when is it time to make your appearance count — it seems that the industry you work in and the type of lifestyle you lead will help make the decision for you. Now I do not work in such a vanity-based industry or business. In fact, the way I look helps people at my place of work be more productive. Why? Because I don’t distract them! I work in a team of seven people, with myself as the only female. And the guys have told me openly that they can get easily distracted by appearance so I do my part by dressing simply. No, I don’t mind their commentary since we’re a very close bunch and I do appreciate their honesty. I suppose this is just the culture at my office. But certainly one positive thing about this is that I probably save several hundred dollars a year by not buying cosmetics, given the steep prices on these items I’ve seen lately.

Given all that, I thought about why someone should decide to invest in their looks.

When Should You Invest In Your Appearance?

    #1 Your job, career or industry requires it.
    Some jobs I can think of that may require primping: actor, flight attendant, model, salesperson, any public figure. Jobs that don’t need much primping: computer programmer, chef, nurse, writer, day care operator. Agree or disagree?

    #2 Your relationships require it.
    I may catch some flack here but I’ll say that there are people whose relationships thrive on improved appearances. In fact, in a traditional environment, this is quite expected of women as part of ensuring that they stay attractive to their partners or be more accepted in a social circle. Teens and tweens may do this to be part of certain peer structures, so in a way, it’s what society asks for.

    #3 Your self esteem requires it.
    Let’s face it, our society is hooked up on looks — just check the fashion magazines and media — so much so that our inner identities may become deeply intertwined with our physiques and countenances. I used to be self conscious if I didn’t have my “mask” on. Now, weirdly, I’m self conscious if I have a “mask” on!

    #4 To change your current destiny.
    I was amazed to hear about women from other countries who did anything to improve their physical appearances. This was what they thought would be their ticket to a new, richer and more successful life. And for a good number of women, this will be the case.

    #5 If your culture asks for it.
    Sometimes, that’s just how the world turns. If I were still living in my homeland, I’m quite certain I will be just as decked to the gills as all my peers. I won’t be able to avoid the herd, so I will need to join it!

For the ladies out there, if you decide to go this route, then be prepared to spend some part of your budget on this. Just from the junk mail I get advertising feminine cosmetics and other toiletries, I found some price lists. I calculated something along the lines of $356.50 for items like:

Sensual Vibrant Shine $22.00
High Definition Curved Brush Mascara $23.00
Precise Match Skin Perfecting Makeup Sunscreen $35.00
Versatile Powder Makeup $34.50
Delicate Oil-Free Powder Blush $28.50
Sensational Effects Eye Shadow $15.00
Deep Collagen Anti-Wrinkle Eye Serum $56.00
Visibly Correcting Eye Treatment $48.00
Eau de Parfum Spray $52.00
Perfumed Body Lotion $42.50
Total $356.50

And that’s probably not even half of what’s on some women’s vanities!

My mantra here is to always consider things in moderation. There’s a happy medium for everything, including makeup.

With my habit of minimally investing in cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry and clothing — yes, admittedly, I only update my wardrobe every 6 months to a year, about the same time that my spouse does — I can see you now wondering… geez, what must she look like? I do have reasons for being this way, which I’m willing to admit:

Why Do I Skimp On The Makeup And Wardrobe?

    #1 I save time.
    I don’t have to spend the extra several minutes a day fussing on my face and hair too much. See, even some guys see the benefit of less fuss.

    #2 I’m lazy.
    I prefer to do other things than look into a mirror for extended periods or go out to shop for clothes. I’m sorry, but I really do not like shopping much these days; it must be a backlash over all the shopping and preening cycles I spent during my college years.

    #3 I like the natural look.
    I guess this works up to a certain point and a certain age. I may have to rethink this as I grow older.

    #4 I like to put my money to use elsewhere.
    I can certainly use the extra $356.50 to go towards a few grocery bills or my IRA account.

    #5 I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and wonder what’s in all that goop.
    Though I’m no activist, I sometimes think about all the poor creatures that perished for the sake of beauty. What chemicals do they have in there anyway?

I’m happy to say that I’m content about how I present myself to the public, and for the most part, I haven’t offended the public yet either, so I guess that’s all that matters. For now, I’ve decided to invest my money elsewhere but who knows, the time may come when my female vanity rears its dormant head; and given how fast time flies, that moment may just be around the corner!

Copyright © 2007 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

finance girl March 29, 2007 at 10:01 am

Hey there, I used to work at a very large software company in Redmond WA though so I get what you are saying re: male co-workers.

Some things to consider:

1) Find and use a really good hair colorist and stylist.
2) Know your fashion style, and buy the best quality and best fit in those styles.
3) Take care of your skin. Everyone benefits from good skin and a youthful appearance, regardless of gender.
4) Keep nails trimmed and shaped. Take care of your hands and cuticles with good lotion, perhaps some with shea butter.
5) Maybe have some fun with shoes? Birks, crocs, and urban hiking boots are comfy, but a woman has many fun choices with shoes that men don’t, and can pull off a more unique look with shoes if she is uncomfortable bring attention to herself with feminine clothes.
6) Take care of facial hair, including nose. Keep eyebrows shaped and lip shadow down, both by tweezer.

There are many places in the spectrum of female aesthetics; it doesn’t have to be binary (e.g. all girly or no girly), and alot of it can be fun! As the French say, Vive La Difference! 🙂

moneymonk March 29, 2007 at 10:55 am

Im like you I can be lazy therefore I do not deal with makeup as much.

However, I do use skin moisturizers. I care more about my skin being healthy than I do about makeup. Good skin will automatically bring out the beauty.

frugal zeitgeist March 29, 2007 at 4:46 pm

I work mostly with men as well; they’re all happily married and we all have pretty clear boundaries. I project a pretty strong personality, so I tend to balance that with being more femmy in clothing and in using cosmetics.

As far as cosmetics go, I don’t use much; just mascara, lipstick, and powder. The mascara is something like seven bucks, and I buy the lipstick and powder 4 for $10 at the Body Shop at their big sales in June and December. Cheap and easy, that’s me all over.

Steve Leung March 29, 2007 at 6:15 pm

Wow! All that inventory never really hit me before you itemized it.

Silicon Valley Blogger March 30, 2007 at 9:16 am

I guess you can go either way with this, and dress/look simple yet nice. Except that I grew up in an environment where it was deemed important to go beyond simple and nice, and I needed to “rebel”. Maybe that’s why I stay clear off the cosmetics counter… I’ve already experienced overload from the experiences I’ve had with bun ladies and stuff. LOL.

ispf March 30, 2007 at 5:33 pm

Nice post! I don’t use anything other than moisturizer and some blody splash, for everyday office wear. I like your list of 5 reasons for not using makeup – they are very similar to my list. Especially the “lazy” and the “natural look” resonate strongly with me 🙂

Stephanie @ PoorerThanYou April 1, 2007 at 2:00 am

I never really got into makeup. My mom wasn’t really into it, and my older sisters were that much older than me that they weren’t in the house anymore when I hit my teens. So I never had any “education” in applying or buying makeup, so I never really learned. These days I live by a “makeup is expensive and my boyfriend and I would rather have video games for the money” mentality. I sometimes think it would be nice to have more makeup and know how to use it, but I spend enough time fussing with my hair!

plonkee April 2, 2007 at 5:43 am

I would rather invest in good haircuts and have perfectly groomed eyebrows than spend a lot of money on makeup. But I do like to look nice at work. Since I discovered how quickly eye makeup goes out of date, I’ve started wearing it more, but buying it much, much less.

sfgal April 3, 2007 at 10:33 pm

Great post!

I’ve pondered the same about makeup – most girls in the office are dressed very conservatively except for one who’s wearing loads of eyeshadow, blush and foundation. And the working environment is very casual and we really just work one on one with each other. There’s little interaction with the public. So I just put on sunscreen or a moisturizer depending on the weather and make sure my hair’s neat and I don’t look like I just woke up for work.

I feel a bit behind though not wearing any makeup. one of my friends has a big plastic rectangle box with eyeshadows, foundations, brushes, pencils and all kinds of makeup. And that’s just one box.

But I think the less makeup you wear, the better for your skin.

I do have some makeup that I wear for special occasions or when I want to dress it up a bit.

Angie May 8, 2007 at 11:50 am

Great posting! I think it’s important that young women understand the importance of it. I’m not really a big makeup wearer except for eye makeup. That I really can’t live without!

Mia June 20, 2007 at 11:02 am

Just goes to show you, they can make just about anyone look like a star with a little Hollywood magic.

baldai August 10, 2007 at 3:49 am

very scary photos 🙁 and BIG STARS doesn’t look very nice in the morning 🙂

vh November 10, 2007 at 8:49 am

??? Why do you think the makeup alone makes those women look so much better? Look at the photos: the “befores” are taken in natural sunlight, some of them with the subjects grimacing & with their hair uncombed; the “afters” are all studio shots in perfect lighting. Even I would look good with a photographer who knows how to do that.

Makeup and face creams are basically all the same. The stuff you buy at Walgreen’s is the same stuff as you get from Saks, only without the fancy packaging, the cloying perfume, and the high-pressure sales pitches. L’Oreal is the same product as Lancome (look it up on the Web!) for a fraction of the price; my dermatologist recommends Olay face creams. You can save on Olay’s “daily regenerating serum”–which is the same as the fabulously expensive stuff in department stores–by getting the large sizes at Costco.

If you enjoy painting your face (as I do–it’s fun), you can do the same thing for yourself as the makeup artists above have done for those celebrities by learning how to apply makeup and then buying your products at drugstores and Costco.

irina November 28, 2007 at 7:12 pm

I have been a model and I am a professional event entertainer now. From what I can see, those *pretty photos* are retouched in Photoshop after they were taken. They are commercial photos. I myself love natural look and when I don’t work I only put sunscreen on. Works for me. I do own cosmetics and most of it bought in Wallgreen and other discount stores. My Walgreen has a Final Sale Shelf and my total decorative cosmetics bill per year is about $5.

Being a former model, I love to observe faces everywhere I go. To me, a beautiful face is a healthy, radiant face with an intelligent expression on it. And I don’t care if the face is young or old. I know some great old faces. You can’t achieve that look with cosmetics. It is about nutrition, healthy habits and some thought processing. Most of it wouldn’t cost you more than you already spending (we all get to eat, right?)

natasha August 30, 2008 at 3:34 pm

I have worn makeup all my adult life, not so much that I look like I belong in a theater. A small amount, well applied enhances any woman’s appearance especially when you reach the baby-boomer years.

AJ October 1, 2008 at 1:02 am

I personally like your article. I also agree that we should invest in our appearance because it’s the second important aside from the attitude to be successful in life.

Cath October 1, 2008 at 8:37 am

Some interesting points you make. I think some treatments can make a real difference whereas others can be just plain dangerous. Creams and skincare products for example work wonders these days. As an online store and spa owner i feel its important to address the right balance. We provide tips on problems with skin which we think is an important service.

Agent Mulder October 2, 2008 at 11:21 am

You definitely make a great point here, but I disagree with your list. First of all, as a woman, I completely understand how confusing cosmetics, lotions and creams can be to a man. Not all make-up is created equal. If a woman chooses to shop at Wal-Mart or Target (where she can find great prices on make-up) in lieu of the Lancome counter, she won’t spend even a fraction as much as you predict.

punkypaige October 4, 2008 at 3:33 pm

I believe you have your point. I learn so much on your post and i hope other readers will able to reach your website. I hope to visit your site again. Thanks!

shelly wagar January 5, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Eventually all beauty will fade.

Economist Jobs March 14, 2009 at 4:46 pm

speculate to accumulate! just make sure that the make up that you use won’t attract the wrong type of person

Michelle April 9, 2009 at 7:11 am

I cant believe how great this post is! I love it! And the video in the beginning is just another example of how the media can construe everything. That woman was beautiful to begin with ! Inner beauty is whats important, and I really hope that one day our society, who like you said is hooked up on looks, will transition to seeing whats inside people that counts. Until then, I just wanted to try to lend a helping hand. After perusing the internet I found a great cosmetics website that has great quality make-up at an extremely affordable price for everyone. During this tough economy its important to not break your budget on cosmetics. I hope you all enjoy. Let me know what you think and just be happy with yourself!

Are Ya Well June 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Here in South Korea most girls would never be caught dead leaving the house without make-up. This has to be one of the most appearance conscious society there is. More power to the girls who do without if that’s what they want.

AAC August 29, 2009 at 12:11 pm

I like your #2 up there about relationships. My husband’s love language must be me looking hot. He doesn’t even know it, but I’ve noticed that the prettier I make myself around him the more I get what I want out of him. If I’m looking drab I don’t get the same attention that I get when I’m looking hot. Not that he or any other guy is bad, but they are so attracted to pretty!

Jose April 27, 2010 at 8:00 am

I think we should invest in happiness and acceptance of who we are and realize that our body and face will change over time; we should just live with what we have.

Miss Platnum May 7, 2010 at 7:45 am

Wow… The truth is that we get used with beautiful and perfect stars, that is why we are so shocked…

Jess June 10, 2010 at 11:52 pm

You should definitely invest in just being yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear makeup and the things that make you feel extra special. No matter how much we wish that the world wasn’t so harsh, it really does make a difference if you take the time to make yourself presentable to the world!

Claire Sanchez June 14, 2010 at 10:10 am

Technology and cosmetics do change your face. Damn.. I can see the differences there.

Judith Summers July 5, 2010 at 12:20 am

The best investment can always be in just being yourself. But a little extra make up with creams and all those beauty tips never killed anybody.

Body Treat August 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I use my own homemade cosmetics every night, and during the day, I only use body lotion and perfume. Good enough for me!

Michelle September 28, 2010 at 10:21 am

Great article.. I think it depends on the money you are prepared to invest in cosmetics (your monthly income) but I’m sure that the most important is the inner energy that the person holds.. yes, photoshop / money / best cosmetics can boost up your self esteem but i want to point out that there are other ways to work it out besides these obvious methods. 🙂

Ana September 29, 2010 at 8:56 am

What about eco-cosmetics?

Poppie April 15, 2012 at 11:05 am

From my point of view, just retired and revising my life considerably, I’ve given a lot of thought to makeup/self care issues recently.

I am so glad that I always used sunscreens and moisturizers and hats. Many of my age peers are undergoing surgery for skin cancers, and other procedures to remove wrinkles and age spots.

I’ve found that nutrition is extremely important throughout life — it builds the foundation for a healthy and comfortable old age.

Makeup might actually be more important for older women — as you age, you expressive abilities and communication style changes — your firmness and facial contours dissolve and soften, your natural coloring fades.

I find that people listen and understand me better when I have slightly more definite makeup on. Eye expressions are better conveyed with some eyebrow pencil, a little tightlining, and mascara. They can read your lips better with a little defining lipstick, and generally, people like to be around other people that look healthy, interested, and vivacious so a little glow and blush helps. Grandkids especially respond — you are teaching them facial communication, gestures, manners, and so what you protray is important!

Of course, good grooming is a must. Old ladies have a reputation of ‘smelling funny’ sometimes due to the fact that their olfactory abilities decline with age, so good grooming and a light refreshing fragrance is important.

Likewise, all your hair issues will change — A good haircut, and occasional professional facial with waxing, trimming, shaping is more important now. It gets harder to ‘do it yourself’ and you will appreciate having a second opinion on your appearance. Besides, you need more human nurturing interaction on a regular basis if you are ‘home alone’ or caretaking a spouse.

hyspin April 16, 2012 at 6:09 am

I barely, if ever wear makeup, which is funny some times because when I speak tp co-workers they swear I was wearing it the day before when I wasn’t, I think my coloring comes off as make-up some times because I guess it symmetrical and most of the of colouring predominately around the eyes.

The only time I where make-up is when I am going out or I am trying to advance. Hey people are shallow so if the looks can help advance me I will do my best to make it work for me since I am known to be of average looks and not anywhere close to North American media ideal beauty (which I nickname the barbie doll).

My beauty investment is improving my natural appearance through my hygiene, low irritation-products and moisturizing practices. What I need to work on now is improve my intake more, including food, clean air, and stress (which is harder for my personality type).

Leave a Comment