By: Grace White

My name is Grace. I’m a junior majoring in media studies and production.

I’ve been interested in and playing with makeup ever since I can remember. I watched the boom of the beauty industry alongside social media in the 2010s, and have been invested in the beauty community since about 2014. I’ve worked as a freelance makeup artist and am currently working for a cosmetic store, so I’ve been fortunate enough to see both sides of the industry as a consumer and a retailer.

Before discussing concepts of makeup theory and ongoing trends, it is very important to me that I provide a more sociological perspective on makeup. Therefore, in the coming weeks, I’d like to explore makeup in terms of economics, ethics and within a historical context. To start I’d like to address what feels like a pressing question; why do we apply makeup? Adverse concepts of insecurity and vanity often arise immediately as a response; and not coincidentally. In the modern day, cosmetic and beauty companies have notoriously exploited the insecurities of men and women, leading to the increasingly demanding standards of beauty. I’d like to dismantle this.

Regardless of one’s own intent, makeup is applied to transform or change, in order to express certain ideas. Therefore, the application of makeup is as innate as any other form of human communication, be that art, literature or music. This becomes very apparent when considering, historically, humans have been applying makeup since we’ve physically been able to do so. In turn, reducing makeup application to simply being the outcome of insecurity and vanity is not incorrect: it is an incredibly narrow perspective of what the art of makeup truly is.