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Realistic Expectations and Results from Make-Up

It’s a safe bet that everyone knows a woman who uses her make-up incorrectly. Even those who know nothing about make-up application can recognize when make-up is improperly applied. Sometimes it’s too heavily applied, or perhaps it’s simply used improperly. When I say “improperly” I mean that they seem to use it in order to manufacture a look rather than enhance the natural appearance of the face. This is the most common mistake made by women as it regards their make-up.
 
       When I was in High School, I knew a very sweet girl. I’ll call her “Emily”. Emily always seemed to wear a LOT of make-up. I never realized exactly how much she actually used until we attended a sleep-away training camp for our high school choir. As underclassmen, we underwent hazing rituals, which for the girls included a complete ban on cosmetics and hair styling products. Upon hearing this, Emily, became upset and begged – in vain – to be granted an exception.
 
       When she came to the campus cafeteria for breakfast on the first day of camp, she his herself away in a distant corner and kept her face to the wall. She needn’t have bothered. As unbelievable as it sounds, NO ONE recognized her (except her dorm-mate who had witnessed the transformation in reverse the night before). It was such a dramatic difference that everyone asked her about it. Obviously, this revealed that Emily suffered from a common issue for many women: poor self-image.
 
girl hiding behind her turtleneck        You see, at seventeen, Emily was convinced that she was unattractive. The truth of the matter is that she was a natural beauty. She’d been plain in her pre-teen and early teen years, had worn braces, and glasses and suffered from very mild acne (one or two blemishes at most). She’d been a late developer, which added to her sense of unattractiveness. To compensate, she’d begun using make-up at an early age and had become very adept at creating the look she felt was pretty. I just thought it was a shame that a seventeen-year-old would feel that she had to manufacture a look to be attractive.
 
       I learned later that her mother had much the same attitude about make-up and that she’d offered to come and get Emily from camp the first night when Emily called her to say that she wouldn’t be allowed to have her cosmetics. Fortunately, Emily chose to stay, and for a few days at least, she was able to get some positive feedback about her natural looks. Once the cosmetic restriction was lifted, Emily returned to her comfortable look, and we all saw the face she wanted us to see again.
 
       I hope that someone managed to finally impress upon her that she didn’t need so much make-up, but I will probably never know. I do remember that all of our attempts (those made by myself and her other friends) to reassure her that she didn’t need much make-up were met with complete skepticism.
 
       Contrary to what Emily and many other women in the world believe, make-up is meant to enhance the natural beauty of the face. The goal is to minimize features that are imbalanced or out of proportion, to obscure traits that are undesirable and to enhance and emphasize the strongest positive features of the face. Nevertheless, many women instead think in terms of “painting the face” as opposed to enhancing the features, and the results are predictable.
 
       Many women need help in keeping the expectations realistic when it comes to make-up. To that end, let’s look at some common areas where unrealistic expectations seem prevalent:
 
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