Makeup as Self-Expression: Exploring The Psychology of Makeup Choices

Makeup has been linked with women for ages but its effects go beyond physical appearance. Makeup can uplift women and become an essential part of their routine. Thus, the psychological effect of makeup is undeniable.

To add to that, the effect is not only limited to yourself but also to people around you. Many are aware that an attractive face is treated better. Whether you are going for an interview or to work daily, makeup can make you look brighter and add confidence. This article explores the psychological effect of makeup choices, let’s know more in detail below.

Does Wearing Makeup Affect How You Feel?

Makeup as self-expression can affect how you feel about yourself. Rather than looking into using makeup to impress others, it should be a means to uplift your spirits and keep you active.

What you put on your body can have an overall effect on how you feel. Getting ready in the morning with ironed clothes and properly done makeup can change your mood but also impact how your day will go. For instance, staying in pyjamas may make you comfortable and cozy but also lead to lethargy.

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If you want to be productive, you should dress up and do your makeup. Thus, you get a chance to determine how you want to feel the entire day and implement it by adding a touch of makeup.

Makeup can be even more beneficial if it becomes routine. Sticking to a simple productive routine keeps your mind, body and spirit healthy. Your mind can relax when you combat the stress of problems with a physical routine. This can be a simple workout, meditating for 10 minutes or applying makeup.

As soon as you do it, you will feel slightly energized and motivated to take the day head-on. Applying a bright colour lipstick is enough to uplift the mood and rejuvenate you for the day.

That said, certain makeup choices have a psychological effect on people around you. This is tied to how some makeup products are perceived by the general public. Let’s dig more into that below.

How Does Makeup Affect Perception?

Makeup products such as lipstick and foundation can give the face desirable features. Generally, makeup tends to give the face a healthier look. It is also useful in strategic self-representation making women appear confident. The following makeup products enhance the features of the face and add to its attractiveness plus overall look:

  • Lipstick: Applying lipstick, especially a dark one can increase the colour contrast of the face. But among the dark ones, red lipstick has the greatest effect. Muted colours or purples do not give as striking a contrast as red does.
  • Foundation: An even skin tone is considered healthy which is hard to achieve naturally. Foundation also gives the face symmetry hence, affects female attractiveness.
  • Eye makeup: Eyeliner, mascara and eye shadow accentuate the eyes and draw eyes towards them. They exaggerate facial neoteny. Eye makeup can be used to enlarge the perceived size of the eyes which eventually gives a younger look. As there is more colour variation around the eyes, the makeup of vivid colours enhances the eyes and makes them more attractive.

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  • Contour: Using bronzer for contouring gives symmetry to the face. An asymmetrical and even-toned face naturally looks healthier. Contour also sharpens the angles of the face making it appear more attractive.
  • Concealer: Concealers along with foundation can have the greatest impact on the face. They cover eye bags, discolouration and blemishes that make you look sick. Instead, you get a healthier looking even-toned skin. If you want one product to use, it should be this one.

Makeup and Self-Identity

Self-expression and self-identity ties to a person’s cultural background, emotions, and experiences. Makeup is used as a tool for self-expression to align a person’s inner self with their outward appearance.

It also helps people identify with social and cultural backgrounds, reflects their emotional state and can be a tool for showing non-conformity.

Cultural Influences on Makeup

What people tend to wear whether it is clothes or makeup, is heavily influenced by what is acceptable in society. For instance, makeup in the West is very different from that in the East.

There is a preference for fair skin in East Asia hence, the makeup is light and is usually “my skin but better” to keep it close to the natural skin. On the other hand, makeup in the West is usually vibrant and bold to make the contoured features look more appealing.

However, not all conform to traditional cultural and social norms. Some people may choose to rebel against the same norms using makeup. For instance, in the 70’s Punk subculture adopted bold makeup as a sign of resistance to what was considered acceptable.

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This asserts a desire for self-expression, acceptance and autonomy through the art of makeup. It can become a means to show resistance and push back against any societal expectations of conformity and gain acceptance for their identity.

Emotional Impact of Makeup

Deeper emotions can influence what style, colours and intensity of makeup you choose to wear. Makeup takes effort so when you are down, you may choose to wear muted colors and minimal makeup. The opposite can be valid for a bright and happy day.

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Makeup is used as a tool for self-soothing and presentation in different emotional states. For instance, people can use it for emotional regulation to show confidence and control with bold makeup or approachability with a rather softer makeup. Makeup as a ritual can help people gain control over their emotions, be conforming or a tool for communicating your internal state to others.


Choosing what to wear on a daily basis is a normal part of routine. Whatever you choose to wear whether it is clothes or makeup expresses your emotions and identity.

Wearing certain kinds of makeup can affect how it impacts others as well as yourself. Hence, makeup should be worn mindfully and by keeping your identity aligned with it.

Filed under: Makeup & Hair, Tips and Myths

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