Makeup – Why do we wear it

What, this never crossed your mind? Putting on makeup and removing it, even if you do a minimal job is going to take up about fifteen minutes. Five is about the minimum in the morning and five for cleaning up, but you take a few more getting things set up and sitting down and checking things.

In part we put on makeup because that’s what’s considered normal in some environments. Women at work, on a date, at an event, etc. are expected to look nice and part of that formula is wearing makeup. This changes as we get older for a variety of reasons, I know women at work that don’t bother and frankly there are rare days I don’t either.

For trans women in particular it serves two purposes. It helps with passing because it generally helps to hide or minimize male features and to counteract any impression of masculinity. It also makes us feel more feminine, which is really important early on when we haven’t started transition or are early in the process and might not have much support.

For myself, I wear makeup for work or going out for an event of some kind, but I generally won’t wear it on a weekend. I might wear lipstick, but that falls in the not a fussy thing to apply and doesn’t need removal category.

However, what is it that makeup does for us that makes us want it to start with? I think that much of what makeup does, in particular subtle use of foundation, lipstick, mascara and blush, is create youth where youth may be passing, or a more flawless appearance than nature has provided.

Like clothing, we wear it for ourselves as a kind of armor, for other women, and for our confidence in knowing we look nice. If we’re out on the town we might also be wearing it because there are guys there, or girls there that might see you and find you more attractive for wearing it.


Foundation provides a much more ideal canvas to work with. Many young women don’t need this, but blotchy skin and other defects are covered up by foundation and as we age our skin ages and getting help makes it look nicer.

We end up adding blush because the foundation mutes or even removes the natural flush in your cheeks. Daytime use of blush is mostly just putting back what you’ve removed.

Lipstick helps lips look healthier and fuller. Everyday lipstick is really more about picking up your own natural colors and emphasizing them, not creating a bold different look.

Mascara makes lashes more visible. For young women with dark hair this is fairly redundant, but lashes thin as we get older and fade and not everyone has dark hair. Dark long lashes are seen as another sign of youth and health.

There are other things we can do that also help appearance and compensate for age related changes. I put small amounts of eyeliner on my brows because they are incredibly light and brush them out. Some people use bronzer and highlighter to visually reshape the face. It really is an optical illusion but it works. The dark areas as seen as farther back and angled away. The lighter areas become closer and more prominent.


Then you start looking at the other things that are done with makeup and these are things that emphasize parts of the face, or dramatize one’s appearance and make you more noticeable.

Eye shadow and liner – applying liner and shadow can make your eyes literally pop. The treatment can range from subtle, for example I often put brown liner and a neutral shadow on for work, to a full smokey eye or eye shadow in brilliant colors like teal and purple and green. Liner can be applied just to the top lid right above the lashes to both lids and the waterlines, the area right adjacent to the eyeball.  Dark brown or black at the water line contrasts very strongly with the white of the sclera of the eye and really makes it stand out.

Lipstick – a bold color of lipstick goes from augmenting nature to creating a sexual statement. A shiny pair of carmine lips that have been made as large as possible promise quite a bit.






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