Are We Wearing WAY More Makeup Than We Used To?

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Are We Wearing WAY More Makeup Than We Used To? featured image

When New Yorker Susana Malpica went to Sephora last week, she left with the illustrious title of Sephora VIP Rouge member—the very top tier of the beauty mecca’s equivalent to frequent flier miles—for the first time.

Free shipping on products, invites to events and even more beauty samples are all obviously very positive perks. “But then I realized I spent at least $1,000 more than I did last year JUST at Sephora. Whoa.”

Malpica is like a lot of other women out there; she doesn’t necessarily wear a ton of makeup on a daily basis, but for special occasions, she does find herself going, as she refers to it, “the extra mile.” 

“I do highlighting, lashes, filling in brows, eye shadow, foundation, and lip color,” she says. “And now, instead of just my foundation on my face, it’s layers of other things—illuminators, some contouring. I’ve always liked makeup, but I am definitely using more now than I ever have.”

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And, if you take a look at the numbers, she’s not the only one. According to NPD Group, the U.S. prestige beauty industry reached $16 billion in 2015, a 7 percent increase over 2014 sales. The group with the biggest growth? You guessed it: makeup, which was up 13 percent. (In comparison, fragrance dollars grew by 4 percent, and skin care by 3 percent.)

Celebrity makeup artist Daniel Martin (he’s responsible for such A-list faces as Kate Bosworth and Chloë Sevigny) says he’s been seeing this trend of people-wearing-way-more-makeup-than-every-before everywhere, and he blames one source. “Social media—in particular YouTube and Instagram—has created such a campaign surrounding makeup and how much you wear and how to wear it. I think it’s a powerful channel for marketing and trending, but it’s not reality. Women are getting way too literal with the amount of makeup they’re being exposed to and not comprehending how heavy it looks in real time. Plus, no one is cleansing properly when they wear that much.”

While Malpica isn’t necessarily going the “overdone” route, she does admit she definitely turns to YouTubers (her favorites are Wayne Goss and Carly Bybel) for makeup tricks, but credits the Kardashians for being the main influencers behind her makeup decisions. “Their faces always look so put together, but sometimes you catch a scene of them with no makeup on, and you see the difference. They are still beautiful, but they are real. I think everyone would like to ‘transform’ like that too.”

Beyond TV, Lorac makeup expert Dean Fournier says part of the trend is also because anyone with a computer now has access to the techniques and application styles once reserved for photo shoots. “Now they are being utilized by some women on a day-to-day basis.”

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But Fournier sees a big difference between social media makeup and Hollywood makeup (more specifically, red-carpet makeup), and stresses they should not be lumped into the same category. “The most defining aspect of social media makeup is the controlled environment and lighting. Every highlight, shadow and texture can be manipulated to the creator’s desire for the best effect.”

Red-carpet makeup, he explains, requires an application that can be flattering in all lighting and in front of all types of cameras from photo to video. “There is absolutely no control once the celebrity or actress steps out of the makeup chair. So naturally, the best choice is not to overdo the makeup. The funny thing is red carpet beauty can actually correlate to everyday life; you can never control the lighting everywhere you go. How many times have you looked amazing getting ready only to see yourself outdoors and realize you overdid it? This heavier makeup trend we are now seeing was born in the social media age, not the red carpet.”

“Makeup can be fun and is a great way to express yourself,” Fournier says. “As an artist, I encourage women to step out of their comfort zone and be playful with makeup! But that being said, layers upon layers of correctors, concealers, powders, highlights and contours can be way too much for everyday wear. Women should ask themselves: What are they are getting ready for…to face the day or to just snap a selfie?”

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