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Why do we go for neutrals instead of nothing?

Anna Brones is a freelance writer and founder of Foodie Underground. You can read her other work on The Guardian, Organic Spa Magazine and more. Follow her on Twitter at @annabrones. . .

Natural makeup suddenly seems ironic

Every season seems to have a neutral trend, be it nude lips or just-barely highlighted cheekbones. Women strive to look put together, yet remain natural. But has it ever occurred to you as odd that in order to look “natural” we need a long list of products?
Woman wearing natural makeup

Natural

Makeup
suddenly seems ironic

Every season seems to have a neutral trend, be it nude lips or just-barely highlighted cheekbones. Women strive to look put together, yet remain natural. But has it ever occurred to you as odd that in order to look "natural" we need a long list of products?

Makeup is nothing new — using materials to decorate the face dates back to Ancient Egypt and Sumerian times, but centuries of trying to improve our looks has made for a complicated relationship. Do we wear it for ourselves? Do we wear it for others? A little of both?

Many women end up stuck in that in between space, fearing that caked on foundation look but also nervous about what going out sans makeup would mean. And in that in between space, it’s easy to head toward neutrals, the seemingly no-makeup look of the makeup world. It’s simple. Natural. Beautiful. Or so we’re told.

Neutral makeup tutorials are in fact far from simple, often involving a variety of products and a long list of steps. It can be shocking how much time and energy can be put into getting a neutral look. There are even neutral makeup tutorials for young girls on school-appropriate makeup.

If we’re using makeup to try to achieve a neutral look, aren’t we missing the picture? What is it about the beauty/makeup industry that has us pining over a neutral lipstick or blush instead of just wearing nothing?

Because as women we’re raised with the cultural expectation that we “have” to wear makeup. We can call it self-expression, we can call it a self-esteem booster, but ultimately, the industry out there would like to have us believe that without makeup, we’re not real women.

There’s a problem with this equation, and it’s one that should take some serious consideration. It shows how trapped we are in the beauty industry. Because ultimately, there’s no point in wearing makeup if your intent is to look like you’re not wearing any.

Want a real neutral look? Feel empowered to do it the natural way. A glow can be achieved without a skin illuminator after all. Remember that if we have to use products to look natural, it’s not really natural at all.

“But it’s highlighting your natural beauty” you say. “Isn’t that a good thing?”

Using expressions like “highlight your natural beauty” are misleading. They say: You’re naturally beautiful, but not quite enough, which is why you need this product. Whether you wear makeup or not, I think we can all agree that there is a level of absurdity in using products to make it look like we’re not wearing any makeup at all.

Not wearing makeup can teach you a variety of things, and even if you love wearing makeup, a break every now and then can be a good thing. Instead of working hard to look naturally beautiful, simply work at being naturally beautiful. Eat well. Get lots of sleep. Drink adequate amounts of water. Don’t let neutrals be a cover up for not taking care of your skin and your complexion.

No one is asking you to give up makeup — we all have our own reasons for using it or not, and for many women, it makes them feel great — but don’t let the neutral trend have you believe that you need products to achieve it.

More on beauty image

Girls, just say no to photo editing apps
Airbrushing doesn't just erase your wrinkles it erases your identity
Survey results: How social media affects our body image

Photo credit: Paul Burley Photography/Photodisc/Getty Images
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