To Wear Or Not To Wear: The Make Up Battle

You have probably seen the media banging on about the ‘feud’ between Helen Mirren and Charlotte Tilbury regarding make up and ‘to wear or not to wear’ – because, you know, two women can’t disagree without it being a feud, right? *look to camera*

To Wear Or Not To Wear: The Make Up Battle. How I feel about make up, as someone with rosacea.

If you haven’t seen this news story, the basic premise is that Helen Mirren has recently posed ‘make up free’ (note the GIGANTIC bunny-rabbit-ears around that phrase) for the Pirelli calendar and had a lot of wonderfully positive press coverage about it. She then did an interview where she said “I think it would be wonderful if [going without make up] became a fashion.” This has been very widely misconstrued and misquoted to make out that she’s saying we should all go make up free all of the time, when actually she clarified within the same interview saying: “I love make-up, dressing up, so I don’t want to be ‘Oh we’ve all got to go without make-up’.”

Charlotte Tilbury, in response to that interview, said “I totally disagree with Helen. She’s absolutely wrong — completely wrong. Why would anyone, in a world where everyone is judged by their looks, not wear make-up? Make-up is very empowering and women should celebrate this weapon in their arsenal. Women need to wear make-up to get ahead in life — in their careers, in the personal lives, whatever it is.”

Firstly, any time that ‘need’ comes into these conversations it gets my back up. Nobody HAS to wear make up, just like I would be very upset if someone told me I HAD to go make up free. Secondly, I think the word ’empowering’ has now lost all meaning. It’s a buzzword that is thrown around for effect. Thirdly, Charlotte Tilbury’s whole career is based on people wanting to wear make up, so her opinion on this is not at all shocking. In the same interview she refers to studies that found that women who wear make up are considered more competent, likeable and trustworthy in the work place and are, as a result, more likely to be promoted. As a side note, I would be very interested to see similar studies on beards/stubble/clean-shaven or long-hair/cropped hair on men… If anyone knows of any, please link me up in the comments!

The fact is everybody is different and has different comfort levels and I really cannot stand the way women are pitted against each other with regards to how they look. There is enough pressure on women every day with the way we act, talk, the jobs we do (or don’t do), and how we portray ourselves, without people adding another thing for us to disagree about.

From a personal point of view, there are many things in this life that I cannot change or control, so if I want to wear make up to control the way I look which ultimately changes the way I *feel* about myself then I fail to see how that is a bad thing. I know that many people will say that I’m brainwashed by societal norms to think that I look bad without make up but that’s something that has been constructed over centuries and will probably take just as long to undo. The fact is, due to my rosacea, I wake up and look in the mirror and see a face I don’t recognise. And it makes me upset. I don’t like the way that I look and it affects my confidence so much that it has had an impact on my job. Obviously as a beauty blogger I feel pressure to look a certain way and inspire people with the way that I look (afterall you wouldn’t get your hair cut by someone with a Pat-Sharp-mullet!) but even in my previous, non-beauty-related jobs it had an impact. I had colleagues draw attention to, or make fun of, my skin. I had senior colleagues imply that I was incompetent or unprepared because I looked ‘flustered’ due to my red face. I avoided speaking up in meetings, leading discussions, presenting my work, or talking to colleagues I didn’t know. That was a very real impact caused by the way I look and feel about myself.

To Wear Or Not To Wear: why I wear make up to cover my rosacea

To Wear Or Not To Wear: why I wear make up to cover my rosacea

People are very quick to assume that those who depend on make up are vain or shallow. There’s a prevalent assumption that women who spend time applying or thinking about make up are less intelligent (this also appears in the backlash that many beauty bloggers experience when they talk about politics, feminism etc. but that’s a wholllllllle other blog post!)

I see comments and discussion from women who appear to think that they are better than others because they don’t wear make up: ‘I’m too busy working/raising my children/sleeping to waste my time on make up’. To me, it comes across as an extension of the ‘cool girl’ persona that cropped up in the 90s as a direct backlash to the 80s Glamazon aesthetic. The contrast of the Kate Moss-CK-One-messy-hair-no-make-up look vs. the Cindy Crawford big-hair-red-lipstick-shoulder-pads look.

‘I’m so low-maintenance, I don’t care how I look, I’m just one of the guys, I’m *cool*.’ Can you hear me eye-rolling?

To be clear, I don’t care if people don’t wear make up. If you just don’t like wearing it, or don’t know how to apply it, or simply don’t have the time or money… that’s absolutely fine with me. It’s the people who look down on others for their choices who stick in my craw. The only thing that should matter in this conversation are these two questions:

  1. Is it your face? If yes – do what you want with it. If no – mind your business.
  2. Is the person’s choice affecting you? If yes – tell the person on the tube that their foot-long fake eyelashes are tickling your face. If no – mind. your. business.


Do you love make up? Hate make up? I could talk about this topic for hours, so let’s start a ‘to wear or not to wear’ discussion below.




  1. Honestly Aine
    29th January 2017 / 6:03 pm

    I’m with you on this one. I go through phases, I didn’t wear makeup properly until I was almost 30. I must hold my hands up – I was a judgemental ass and couldn’t understand why anyone would wear makeup on a daily basis. I was lucky as I had good skin…and I was incredibly lazy. I’ve since discovered the utter joy of makeup and I see it more as colouring in for adults! I get to add splashes of colour to make my eyes pop, or reshape my face, or draw focus to another part of my face – preferably away from a spot! I’ve grown up a lot and no longer judge people for their own choices, it is entirely up to them and frankly let people do what they want with their own faces. I’ve read those studies too, I’d like to see the same applied to men. If we were judged more on our work merits, rather than our looks, surely that would be better? It’s hard enough for women in the work place. I spent far too long dealing with that, I worked in a mostly male dominated environment. If I wore makeup, I was quizzed, if I didn’t, I was clearly tired and stressed. We need to stop dragging other women down in order to prove a point. As you say, there is enough pressure without us dumping a lorry load on for the craic of it. Screw that nonsense frankly! Hooray for doing whatever you want with your face.

    Honestly Aine

  2. 29th January 2017 / 7:03 pm

    I love make up. I find it one of the few artistic expressions I am actually able to do! But I don’t feel the need to wear it – I wear it because I want to. I believe that whether or not you have make up on your face does not impact on your ability to do any given tasks. I think this also applies to any piercings or tattoos you may or may not have. I think you’re totally right – it’s a personal choice and no option (or person) is better or worse than the other and shouldn’t be put down.

    • 31st January 2018 / 9:08 am

      Couldn’t agree more. I love alternative styles and enjoy matching my makeup to them. My mum was very good at real art but I never was. I feel like doing my makeup is my art. I wear make up a lot because of life long bad acne and a resulting uneven skin tone and really greasy skin. Now I’m freelance I don’t need to leave the house so I wear it less but I still always wear it Fridays and Saturdays even if I’m not going out because I enjoy it snd love how it makes me look.

      • Lex
        31st January 2018 / 1:55 pm

        I totally agree. Make up makes me happy and is a creative outlet – why is that ever considered a bad thing? Just let people enjoy things!

  3. 29th January 2017 / 10:16 pm

    Totally agree. I have rosacea too and like to keep it covered because I don’t want the attention. But there are days when I just slather on moisturiser and chill.

    However I do think CT is a bit weird, I read an interview where she said her husband had never seen her without her make up and she doesn’t take it off at night – just adds more in the morning. Her skin must be a disaster with all that clogged up in her pores.

    • 29th January 2017 / 10:18 pm

      Leaving make up on cannot be healthy! And I cannot image my husband never seeing me without make up. If I’m ill make up would be the last thing I would want to think about and he is the first person I want waiting on me hand and foot. Lol.

      • Lex
        16th February 2017 / 5:08 pm

        I find it so crazy that she sleeps in make up, it makes me feel so horrible and dirty. And make up never sits right the next day!

    • Lex
      16th February 2017 / 5:09 pm

      I can’t even bear to think about sleeping in make up *shudder*
      I love that I have a choice – some days I love a full face of make up and others I just need to bare minimum to cover my redness.

  4. 29th January 2017 / 10:29 pm

    Love this topic – the last time my dad saw me without make up he asked me if I was ill! I love wearing make up and experimenting with looks, but I’m pretty clear that it’s my choice and nothing to do with anyone else. I think Helen MIrren has a refreshing approach to make up – fun sometimes, other times really can’t be arsed with it, whereas Charlotte is all about the gloss and glamour at all times. It’s two different attitudes and if either makes them happy, great. What’s not so great is to imply a greater level of signifcance than there really is to wearing it – women don’t need make up as a weapon, surely? It’s many things to many people (men, too) and I couldn’t agree less that it’s needed to get ahead in life. That’s just ridiculous and taps into the whole judgemental thing that drives me mad about beauty world – look younger, be prettier, be thinner, be more perfect. Millions of women get along just fine without being perfect – some wear make up and some don’t. But no world crisis has yet happened because a women forgot her lipstick in a meeting.

    • Lex
      16th February 2017 / 5:07 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment Jane, I couldn’t agree more. Wearing make up should always be a choice and it should never reflect on the person’s abilities. It’s so ridiculous.
      And my mum always asks me what’s going on with my face if she sees it bare as she so rarely sees me without make up!

  5. Kathleen Medjuck
    29th January 2017 / 11:33 pm

    Way to go! I don’t understand how seemingly intelligent women don’t understand that it’s ok to be different, have different opinion, shapes, thoughts, styles, etc etc. It’s all good people. Just live and let live.

    • Lex
      16th February 2017 / 5:04 pm

      Exactly this, why on earth does it affect anyone else what I do with my face? So bizarre!

  6. 29th January 2017 / 11:35 pm

    Such an interesting debate and I agree with you – it is your face to do with it as feels good/right for you and not to pass judgements on others. I hate that women are pit against each other in the looks department and it’s a losing battle as I fear that will always happen. I am so angered to hear that your skin was used to bear some credence on your work – how dare they be so hurtful and uneducated!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Leigh at Fashion Du Jour LDN x

    • Lex
      16th February 2017 / 5:04 pm

      People are so cruel and judgemental, it’s so unnecessary. Thank you for your comment 🙂

  7. the40somethingbeautyaddict
    30th January 2017 / 4:51 pm

    A silly storm to whip up some publicity for them! But how cruel can people be and how we perceive others to how they look even tho they may have a personal skin issue that they feel terribly about. A brave personal post by you and very good.
    Well done x

    • Lex
      16th February 2017 / 5:00 pm

      People are so quick to judge others for their choices, so frustrating! Thank you so much for your comment x

  8. 4th February 2017 / 12:11 am

    I am a scientist and LOVE makeup. Usually if not always, I’m the girl that is all dress-up and with makeup on. Sometimes I fell a little self-conscious because none of the girls in my work use a lot of makeup, I don’t do it to impress or to hide my skin or to pretend to be someone else, I do it because I like it. No one has ever told me something bad about my makeup, but I usually gets comments like “Are you trying to impress some guy?” or “Where are you going all dress-up?” and it really annoys me that people think that if I wear makeup to impress others.
    Love these post.

    • Lex
      16th February 2017 / 4:51 pm

      I don’t understand why people assume that we must be doing it for someone else, how insulting! Thank you so much for your comment 🙂

  9. Caroline
    6th February 2017 / 3:35 pm

    I love makeup and have been playing and experimenting with it since I was a child – I’m now 43. I go for a full madeup face and styled hair, as that makes me feel good. My family and colleagues know me that way and if I arrived at work looking less than 100% they would ask if I was okay. I think there are those who view me as an ‘airhead’ to look so made up but I (personally) would rather look at a woman (or man) that looks groomed. I think (again, personal view) if someone makes an effort with their appearance (i.e. looking groomed, not full of makeup) it reflects their work ethic. I am currently undergoing treatment for secondary cancer so a wig is now added into the mix. I am quite ill, but no one would know, due to the makeup I wear – and that makes me very happy and enables me to forget what I’m going through as I’m not treated any differently by the outside world

    • Lex
      16th February 2017 / 4:39 pm

      I hate that people associate liking beauty with being an airhead, it’s ridiculous. I love make up but don’t look down on those who don’t wear it – it’s a personal choice and you should do what makes you happy. I’m so sorry to hear that you are not well but I love that make up helps you to feel more confident x

  10. Nicole Jean (@nicole_ehmu)
    13th February 2017 / 8:44 pm

    Personally, if it ain’t my face, I don’t have a say… unless it’s skincare. Then it is my duty to help someone out. But people wear makeup for so many different reasons. Who am I to comment on someone’s choice to do so? I can’t the stand the women who say they’re too busy or can’t be bothered with makeup because looking natural is way better. I mean wow, good on you. Would you like a medal? Literally no one asked.

    • Lex
      16th February 2017 / 4:10 pm

      I think that’s fair – skincare can actually help someone and it’s something many people find totally baffling. I loved your comment and totally agree – anyone who thinks they are better than someone else for stuff they do or don’t put on their face need to get in the bin!

  11. 14th February 2017 / 11:29 am

    I just did a month of not wearing make up as an experiment on my blog. My findings: its boring, for me, not wearing make up. But I do sometimes not wear it on times that I normally would, just to prove that I can, and that its my choice.

    • Lex
      16th February 2017 / 4:08 pm

      I work from home so I don’t wear make up everyday but – like you – I would miss wearing make up if I stopped completely as I really enjoy it! Choice is wonderful and no one should be told what to do with their own face! Thank you for your comment x

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