Makeup and the women who use it have had a long history of love and hate. Some women love experimenting with makeup and won’t leave the house without it; others hate it and would rather go barefaced as the day they were born. But what do men think about makeup, really? Do they like when we wear it? How much is too much? What do they think “natural makeup” is? I asked some men of varying ages to try to get some answers. Of course, every man is different. But if you’re curious about what men really think about makeup, this is for you.
Men in their 20’s.
“Do I like when women wear makeup? My gut response is no. I always tell my girlfriend she doesn’t need it and looks beautiful without it, which I really mean. That being said I did see the Mila Kunis picture without her wearing makeup and was blown away by how different she looked. I guess I’ve always underestimated the transformative powers of makeup.” — Nick, 26.
“Sure [I like when women wear makeup]. I’m a little old-fashioned. But that’s like asking, ‘Do you like it when women wear clothes?’ It’s all a question of what, and how much. It’s good when there’s a clear difference between everyday makeup and special occasion makeup. It’s a nice gesture to have a girl make for you, albeit not a hugely important one. That said, some girls can totally rock huge eyelashes and eyeshadow 24/7. I’d just avoid a full Dee Snider whenever possible. I feel like I’m failing a critical gender theory class just be answering these questions.” — Jesse, 29.
“I’m not a big fan of makeup. I think it takes away from a person’s natural beauty. I understand it’s practical at times, but I prefer the less-is-more approach. Caked-on foundation, no thank you. ‘Natural makeup’ would probably be things like lipstick and eyeliner. They accentuate features, but don’t necessarily cover up blemishes and what not. Blemishes are what make people attractive, at least in my opinion.” — Matt, 27.
“Certain girls look good with makeup, and some look good ‘natural’. Though I’m not too disappointed in a well done smokey eye. Now, ‘too much makeup’ is something that really depends on the occasion. Obviously costume parties and the like have to be excluded from this. Day-to-day, ‘too much’ makeup is hard to define, as it’s really about what’s comfortable for the person wearing it, and however they feel they look best. I suppose I would define ‘natural makeup’ as light, merely highlighting facial features as opposed to drawing attention to them particularly.” — Shaun, 23.
“I like when make up goes unnoticed. I dislike when it becomes the main character of the face. It gives me the creeps seeing baroque art imitation on girls faces. I think less is more with this kind of stuff.” — Ivan, 28.
“I really like the way a bit of eyeliner and mascara can accentuate a whole look. It serves as a spotlight on her beauty rather than a concealer of her ‘flaws’. I had a girlfriend that I knew for quite a while before I ever saw her completely devoid of any foundation or concealer. When I did finally see her face untouched by makeup, adorable freckles were revealed on the tops of her cheeks. She never looked more beautiful to me.” — James, 29.
“I don’t mind a little makeup if we’re going out, but if we’re just hanging in I don’t think any is necessary. You’re wearing too much makeup if I can’t kiss you or touch your face because it’ll smear. [I have] no clue what ‘natural makeup’ is. Ummmm, chapstick and moisturizing lotion?” — Cliff, 27.
Men in their 30’s.
“[Makeup] can certainly look nice, but it is not appealing in and of itself. Wearing makeup badly, meaning ‘too much’, is far worse than wearing none at all. Anything more than the faintest highlight can be too much. I’m not sure [what ‘natural makeup’ is]. I guess if makeup smooths over blemishes but isn’t recognizable as makeup, then it’s ‘natural’. That seems fine by me.” — “Nick”, 38.
“I’m not into the drag queen layers some girls wear. If you look like Mimi from the Drew Carey show, you’re doing it wrong. Makeup should enhance your good features, not create them.” — Doug, 31.
“[‘Too much’ makeup] is pretty much subjective. However, if a woman’s wearing so much foundation and concealer that I can’t see the texture of her skin, I’m left wondering what the hell she’s covering up. Frankly, there’s no such thing [as ‘natural makeup’].” — Allen, 36.
“I guess ‘too much’ makeup is when a woman literally is covered in a mask of makeup. Basically, I would like her to look essentially the same whether we’re at the gym or at a cocktail party. Some makeup is fine, but I’m partial to the ‘natural look’ of rouge and maybe mascara and eyeliner.” — Keith, 38.
Men in their 40’s.
“A little [makeup] is alright. A little blush, a little eyeshadow. Enhancement of your natural color, not something that will look like a watercolor painting in a rainstorm if you sweat or cry a little. If you look like Tammy Faye Bakker doing her impression of the Joker you’ve gone too far.” — Joe, 42.
“Although a natural look is great, makeup that accentuates a woman’s finer points can be very appealing and even seductive. That’s not to say it’s necessary, just a nice accompaniment. The ’70s disco scene or ’80s hair band or Boy George looks were examples of too much makeup. While red lipstick and nails can be very attractive and sexy some of the time, and other colorful applications can be terrific once in awhile as accents, painting oneself like a clown has never appealed to me. I’d rather see the real person than the mask. Sheryl Crow comes to mind as someone who, even when wearing a lot of makeup, usually appears relatively natural because of the makeup styles and colors that blend in with her look and accentuate her natural features rather than hiding them.” — Paul, 46.
“I like when women wear makeup for an occasion — like going out to dinner — when they dress up, so it’s part of the ensemble. Glamorous times! For just hanging out or whatever, I’m always baffled that women feel the need to put on makeup. If you have to ask ‘Is this too much makeup?’, the answer is yes. ‘Natural makeup’ to me is when it’s very similar to the woman’s real face — skin tone, eyelash and eyebrow color. It’s using makeup to just take care of a few imperfections and make things a little more even. If you do it right, most people won’t even be sure you have makeup on.” — “Scott”, 42
So what have we learned?
There’s been a lot of talk of covering “blemishes.” What do men consider “blemishes”? Some consider them “zits” while others think blemishes are exclusively something like “sun damage”. It seems the majority of men do not know what ‘natural makeup’ is. Nick, 26, asked if it was “subtle make up that is barely visible or is it makeup made from natural products?” Some men thought it meant no makeup at all while others thought it meant just chapstick and maybe some mascara. Basically, they all agreed that if your face is a different color from your neck, that’s not good, and if they can see foundation (“caked-on” was used a lot), that’s also not good.