People should be able to go out in public looking however they feel most comfortable, but, for better or worse, society seems to value and reward “standards” that don’t necessarily make people comfortable.
For example, jeans vs. sweatpants. No one really wants to wear jeans instead of sweatpants. Jeans are not comfortable and if you say they are, I think you’re lying.
When it comes to makeup, many women feel it helps them feel more confident, but others prefer to go all-natural. Either is fine, of course, but again, people will treat you differently depending on which you prefer.
“How do you get treated when wearing makeup vs. when you’re not?”
Over 200 women responded with in-depth stories you may relate to, so we figured we’d share them…
1 – Shannon Niernberger
“I rarely leave the house without at least eyebrows and a swipe of mascara, so my answer will be based on that. When I am wearing full/club makeup, complete with dark eyeshadow, eyeliner, and lipstick, I notice that people are very, very nice to me. Men approach me more—even with my husband by my side. Women are generally very nice as well: they compliment my makeup and are friendly.
Oftentimes I feel as if I’m being stared at or watched. I’m more easily accepted into groups of friends and made to feel welcome. When I wear full makeup, the compliments are endless; it’s almost as if I can say nothing wrong. I assure you, I’m an awkward person, and I can say awkward things – people jump in to save the conversation when that happens.
When I am wearing my daily makeup, which consists of lighter eyeshadow with no eyeliner and chapstick opposed to lipstick, people are still very nice to me. I don’t get approached as much—especially if I’m out at night—but I still get compliments and looks; just nothing compared to my full/club makeup. Honestly, I think women give me more attention when I wear my daily makeup.
Finally, when I am wearing my version of “no makeup” which is barely filling in my brows to make them visible, and a swipe of mascara, I feel like an average person. I am approached way less and garner next to no looks. It sounds like a negative thing but for an introvert like me, it’s so peaceful to not have to respond to random conversation. I still get a few compliments, but they’re more about my personality than anything else. Of course, all of this is just my perception. I feel like I look the best when I have makeup on, but I’m at peace with myself always.”
2 – Hannah Elizabeth
I’m naturally blonde and have blonde eyebrows and eyelashes. The one most profound response I usually get is ‘Woah, where’d your eyelashes go?’ If anyone out there reading this has blonde eyelashes, y’all know the struggle. They’re nearly invisible! If I’m not donning mascara, I’m usually asked if I’m feeling okay, if I’m sick, or tired. If I am wearing mascara, people generally think I’m not wearing any makeup and think my eyelashes are naturally black.
You gotta be fricking with me if you think my eyelashes are naturally ‘very black’ (as the shade of mascara I use is worded). However, if I actually put on some eye-shadow or lipstick, I’m usually met with ‘what’s the special occasion?’
More compliments on a face that’s made up rather than bare. I think it’s important to mention that I have very little interest and skill in the realm of makeup, which is generally where my lack of makeup that I wear comes from. Who knew that eyelashes had such an effect on my appearance! My only makeup is mascara, and without mascara, my eyelids seem to appear bald.”
3 – Rachel Renee
When people meet me and I’m bare-faced, I’m treated like just another person. Other women approach me for conversation if I’m at the bar, I exchange casual smiles while passing someone in the aisle grocery shopping, all just typical daily scenarios with the average human being. Rarely do I receive compliments on my looks or get hit on. But when people meet me when I’m dolled up, it’s a night-and-day difference. As some of my best friends have told me, I come across as “intimidating” and “mean”. I’ve had people tell me that before they got to know me they thought I’d be stuck up. I’ve had boys tell me that other boys wouldn’t date me in school because they’re too afraid, that I’m “too cool”.
Girls have walked their boyfriends out of my work because of my looks. Random women have tried to pick fights with me because their husband was looking at me. When I have a full face of makeup on I can walk straight to the front of any VIP line at a night club and get in (even before I was 21.) I get significantly hit on more, even offered a lot of money in exchange for my “time”, and that has never happened without makeup.
People offer me jobs more and try to recruit me to do marketing. Rich men and athletes have taken me out on very luxurious dates, whereas I once did a personal experiment and met up with someone from a dating app bare-faced, and never got a callback. (Granted I wouldn’t have answered, he was dull and egotistical, couldn’t keep a conversation going about anything other than lifting.) I had to wear a full face of “performance makeup” every day for 8 months, and let me tell you, it’s slightly exhausting.
These last 3 months I’ve only worn makeup once and it’s been amazing. Makeup makes me stand out, and sometimes it’s nice to just blend in and focus on the interior and not the exterior. And not trying to sound snobby or pretentious, just wanted to answer the question honestly and compare treatment!”
4 – Cierra Irene
“With makeup, I definitely get more male attention. Men are nicer to me; they hold the door, buy me drinks, and give me compliments. Men also tend to stare at me and attempt to strike up a conversation more often. I get complimented on my makeup whenever I go to the mall. Women beg me to teach them how I do my eyebrows.
People who have seen me without makeup tell me that my face looks completely different with it. This is how I look in the summertime. You can see all my freckles and my uneven skin tone. Most of the time, it’s too hot to wear makeup. I’m a manager at a retail store and don’t wear makeup to work. As a result, a lot of customers don’t take me seriously and think I’m just a kid. I’m 21 but look 16 without makeup. Men aren’t as chivalrous and tend to look past me. Women find me more approachable and friendly.
Overall, I don’t mind going out without makeup. I just personally believe I look better with it and like to wear it whenever I can.”
5 – Dawn Batsford
“I get treated hugely differently. And it pisses me off. Before I rant, let me say, the top picture I took two weeks ago and sent to my boyfriend precisely because it is extremely rare for me to get ‘dressed up’. The second picture is my normal day-to-day look. It’s not that I don’t like getting dressed up, I just utterly resent how differently I am treated. When I am normal Dawn, I don’t turn heads, I am invisible. Fine by me. I am an introvert.
I work from home and don’t see many people, and going into busy places makes me anxious. Being invisible suits me down to the ground. On rare occasions, I get dressed up and go out to meet a friend or whatever. Attention embarrasses me. I’m not on FB, Instagram, Twitter, any of that stuff, only Quora: I don’t seek attention, I don’t like it. I’m not saying that’s the only reason people use those sites, but there is certainly a lot of posturing that goes on on them, and that’s really not me. I write my books with pen and paper and still keep real photo albums. I guess I’m old fashioned.
My world is a small one and I love it that way. To suddenly get attention is uncomfortable, especially when it is unwanted looks-based attention. Staring or leering or grabbing etc, which is what it almost always is, makes me want to run back to what I call my Darkened Room and it’s frustrating as hell that I can’t make myself look and feel pretty—just because it’s nice to sometimes—without suddenly being a target for this sort of thing and it’s all so fricking artificial.
I was in Curry’s last week and there was a girl in there who had, to even a hasty observer, dolled herself up in every fake way possible. That’s not a dig, just a fact. False eyelashes, full makeup, bleached hair, etc. There were three guys working there who were so blatantly staring, gawping, and talking about her (they reminded me of the guys in The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and I was standing a few paces away. I’d literally just moved house (I think we’d had the keys for a few hours) so I was there in dungarees, looking a mess from hauling furniture about. I just realized, as I stood there that a) they either didn’t notice or care that this was not actually what that woman looked like b) they thought it was okay to openly perv over her, even at work c) if I’d been dressed up, they would have been doing the same to me. Because the attention is for the look. Not reality.
I met my boyfriend when we were both chefs in the kitchen. If you’ve ever worked in a kitchen you’ll know it’s pretty much the grossest environment you can be in. Sweaty, mucky, hot. Chefs’ whites designed to fit someone the shape of Spongebob Squarepants. The fact that my boyfriend and I met and fell in love in such a place filled me with confidence because if someone can fancy the pants off you when you look your worst, that’s a very good thing.
I know it’s just human nature. People are attracted to a pretty face. It just makes me fucking sigh to see that a woman’s choices seem to be invisibility or being leered at. To be ignored or hit on. I was a customer in Curry’s and those guys didn’t even see me. It’s just how the world works, unfortunately. I am hugely thankful to have my boyfriend and my Darkened Room.”
6 – Giang Nguyen
“When I’m very tidy, so much that people don’t consider me a 16-year-old girl and I’m wearing open clothes, guys can come and ask for my phone number, which means they see a woman in me. I can even buy alcohol at a store or bar and not show documents at the same time. And when I’m not wearing makeup, or when I have makeup every day (eyebrow pencil, mascara, blush, and lipstick), nobody notices me. Perhaps people think, ‘God, who is this child?’”
7 – Holly Megan Watson
“I absolutely get treated differently. I look very different with makeup than I do without. Part of it is that naturally, I don’t have much in the way of eyebrows (they’re very sparse and light) and also I normally have bobos on my face that really stand out. With makeup on, I probably behave differently so that is definitely half of it. I think I might be more assertive (I probably come off as more bitchy), partially because I like to get things done and be on my way and being more attractive facilitates that, but also because I get harassed a fair bit with makeup.
Without makeup I think I’m more friendly, I’m not as suspicious of men walking near me, and I can be friendly without worrying someone will read into it. Also, I am very very average looking without makeup so I love not wearing makeup on days when I’m feeling introverted. People kind of ignore me so I don’t have to worry if I don’t feel like talking to anyone. Without makeup, people will often ask if I’m tired or sick, but I think it’s just because I look so different with makeup and they’re not used to seeing me that way. I was actually out running this summer with no makeup on, all sweaty and somebody barked at me so I feel like harassment may just have something to do with the city I live in! I find in general though, without makeup people don’t really notice me at all, I’m just an average Jane.”
8– Amanda Duese
“Well, I hardly ever wear makeup. When I do, it’s either because I love doing it as an art, or on a very rare occasion when I have/want to look nice for some event. Because of this, I don’t really get that ‘you look exhausted’ comment whenever I don’t wear it, but I do get a lot more compliments or stares when I am. This is only recently because I’ve barely just started getting good at my makeup. I used to be terrible and people would tell me I’m much better without it, but once I learned how to do it properly I think we can all agree I look better with it on.
When I’m not wearing makeup, I just go unnoticed. I blend in with everyone else. Honestly, it’s not too much different when I wear it though, most of the compliments I’ll get are from other girls who love makeup too. The only different response I get is on social media. Posting a picture with makeup will get way more attention than one without.”
9. – Akshara Joshi
I’ll be very honest. When I have makeup on my parents ask to dial it down since I’m a huge makeup freak. And when I don’t have makeup on my friends ask me if I’m sick or high. It’s always a see-saw for me, never anything moderate.
Here’s me with makeup and lashes and everything on my face. It’s an everyday look with subtle eye shadow and a bit of glow on my face. I’m without any makeup in a selfie with my dad. And I don’t look that bad cause I was in a place with an amazing atmosphere that helped my skin look fresh
So it doesn’t matter if you put makeup on or not, what matters is if you’re comfortable in both or one. If you love putting on makeup every day and that makes you happy—do it. If you find makeup is too much for you and you love staying bare-faced—do it. Don’t bother following what others do with themselves.”
10.– Emily F. Marsico
“When I’m wearing makeup, men approach me constantly, I get constant messages in my inbox when I post a decent photo and I randomly get stopped on the street. Strange men will try to make sexual advances, even in work environments. I’ve had men with girlfriends and fiances try to talk to me. Women can be awfully snarky and even dismiss you as friends.
I once was harassed by a jealous female roommate who would walk past my room at night when I was sleeping and call me a swear word. I stood up to her and she actually punched me in the face. The girl is crazy.
Without makeup, I am noticed as average. I blend in with society and actually do not receive as much negative attention. Females are friendlier and they appear to me as friends, wanting to hang out. Males regard me as a friend, not some weird sex toy. I find value in wearing makeup and not wearing makeup. The whole point is to not value your looks and more on your achievement and personality. With makeup, the only thing some people notice is your looks and that is sad.”
“I get a lot of stares from males and females, yet I hardly ever get approached when out in public whether it be the club, bar, or social setting. I’ve been known to be the one that makes the move in the past. I know I get treated differently when I have makeup. Many can be judgmental, having preconceived ideas about me, thinking I’m stuck up or mean.
People can be really rude when they see me all dolled up and nosy as well. Asking what I do for work or if I have my lips done or any cosmetic surgery to my face, people aren’t the nicest, most likely from intimidation I like to think, so I pay them no mind. And then they get to know me and realize I’m very much the opposite.
I won’t lie, I do have more confidence when I have makeup on. I love makeup, though. It’s fun and I’m learning to love my face without it too. Makeup is simply my art and time to relax. I get treated differently without it. I look much younger than my age some people think I’m 15/16 so this causes a number of individuals to not take me seriously, whether it be in the business field or in public.
I also suffer from acne scars, so that affects my confidence, so I much prefer to have the foundation on. I’ve been asked before if I’m sick or that I look tired. I’m also approached more when I have no or little makeup on. Maybe I look less intimidating.
Ultimately I don’t feel like I look that different without it vs with it, it’s simply a fun art/pastime and you shouldn’t depend on it we’re all beautiful!”
14.– Charlotte Green
“Of all the parts of my body, my face is the only part I generally like. It’s nothing special, but there is also no particular feature on it that I necessarily don’t like. While my face is fine/average naturally, it looks 10000x times better when I’m wearing makeup. My confidence grows significantly when I am wearing makeup, and I think that is actually a huge contributor to the amount of attention I get. Confidence attracts.
I used to wear a full face of makeup nearly every day, but now I make a point of not wearing makeup 90% of the time and only putting it on when I’m going out for something special like a date or a girls day. When I look like this, I’m just another person. Not shunned but not really noticed either. I get no special treatment, stares or rubbernecks. Customer service people are polite to me but not overly friendly, no middle-aged women give me the stink eye. It’s really quite a peaceful but uneventful life when I am without makeup.
When I wear very minimal makeup I’m generally respected and my presence is received well. I come across as respectable and wholesome. People treat me very noticeably different when I have a full face on. I don’t feel like it’s arrogant to say I look good wearing this much makeup because to be fair, it’s a lot of work and a lot of years of practice that went into the look you see above, so you’d hope that I like the way it looks. It’s no different to liking a drawing you spent ages perfecting. People will notice me, and definitely be more friendly and accommodating.
People associate attractiveness with the worthiness of their attention which is depressing but true. Old ladies will give me dirty looks and men will leer but all in all, people go above and beyond to be perceived in a positive light by me because they value my opinion more. It’s messed up. People also treat me like I’m much more of a mindless bimbo when I have makeup on, just because I don’t look like a typical studious, serious person. When I’m without makeup or wearing little makeup, people value my input on intellectual topics more. When I’m wearing a full face of makeup, people generally brush me aside.
Bottom line is; unfortunately, people are generally kinder to me when I’m done up, but value my brain more when I’m done down. Pros and cons.”
15. – Laura Traveller
16.– Sunny Nguyen
“I don’t really wear makeup (it means no foundation, even no sunscreen, and nothing on my eyes) but I do wear lipsticks every day. To me, with vs. without lipstick already makes a huge difference. Someday, I feel like my lips are so dry, and I decided to “take a day off” for them, going to the office without putting anything on my lips.
And I would end up somewhere like this:
People in general: Are you sick? Is there anyone or anything that makes you sad? Is everything okay with you? Do you need a half-day off?
‘My girls’: Phuong, you look terrible! Go put your lipstick on, right away! I don’t want to work with your face like this! Or do you forget your lipstick, you can use mine.
On 99.9% of my working days, I always put on my red or pink or orange or sometimes purple lipsticks. And this is how the reaction of: People in general when I say ‘Hi’ to them ‘You look so refreshed and energetic!’, ‘It feels so nice to see you every morning’, Or ‘you look sexy today.’
‘My girls’: act as if nothing happened (because lipstick is a must in a daily routine – no argue here).”
17.– Sadie Mae
18.– Jaqueline Alexia Prado Prado
“Honestly? Pretty much the same. I don’t wear makeup very often. As much as I love to do it, it is very time-consuming, and I usually appreciate getting every possible extra minute of sleep I can afford. Because of that, pretty much every person who has met me more than once knows what I look like with my face completely bare. At most, I will wear some lipstick, and if I’m really feeling like taking it up a notch, also some mascara and eyeliner, or some concealer.
There’s also the fact that, when I do wear makeup, I don’t go the natural route. I see makeup more as an artistic medium (and engaging in the pleasure of slathering things on my face, as odd as it may sound) than as a means towards being prettier, so while I do try to keep it flattering, I also make it so that it’s really obvious that I’m wearing a heavy hand of makeup since I enjoy playing with colors and lines. I also tend to only wear a full face when I’m going out at night, so that allows me to get a little bit more dramatic with the makeup.”
19.– Gayathri Mahesh
“It depends on the company, honestly. My friends don’t mind either way. I have my eyebrows, mascara, kohl, eyeliner, and tinted lip balm on for this one. It’s my day-to-day look, and nowadays I get compliments for it often. Sometimes, when I wear a dark lip or a full face of makeup, people stop to compliment me.
See, the thing is—I used to have insecurities. I still do have them. They didn’t just vanish under a layer of makeup. But, back then, they used to bother me, and I used to be terribly self-conscious about them. And maybe because I was too self-conscious, others’ noticed them too, and they pointed out them to me. It hurts to hear your insecurities echoed back at you, and I tried hundreds of things to get others to stop doing that—from going full face every day to just staying at home.
Spoiler alert: nothing worked. Over the years, I’ve realized three things: I am too lazy to put on a full face every day. I hate isolation. You can’t change anyone’s opinion about you. In fact, it is much harder to change your own perception of self. So, I came back. I stopped caring. I stopped listening to the voice in my head that said I had to be liked by everyone. I also stopped hanging out with friends who prodded with my insecurities. I don’t care much for people’s reactions anymore.
Everything is met with a smile and a simple thanks. That’s the trick to understanding another’s opinions: They’re always going to be there. But, you don’t have to take them if you don’t want to. I like using makeup to accentuate my features and it works for me. That’s all there is to it. Think about what you will.”
20. – Brandi Rhodes
“I feel like I get treated a lot differently from strangers. When I go out without makeup I’m usually wearing workout clothes. With makeup, I’m more dressed up. I have never been to work without makeup because once people are used to seeing you every day with it, it can be shocking. The same works if you don’t wear makeup ever and people are used to it they will really notice you with it. I love makeup, it’s fun to play with. I’m 45, so I feel like I look better with makeup. I thought I looked drastically different without makeup, but looking at these photos I really don’t see much difference. I think it’s just a confidence booster.”
21. – Alexa Stines
“I personally love to wear makeup and I feel a lot more confident with makeup. I do have a lot of men hit on me more when I’m wearing makeup vs. when I’m not wearing any makeup. I feel like people look at me weird when I don’t have makeup on. When having the courage to go out without makeup, I get asked questions like ‘why are you so red?’, ‘Why do you even wear makeup?’ etc. But, even when I am wearing makeup, one of the questions that bother me the most is ‘Can I like take your eyebrows off with an eraser?’
Once when I was younger, this person even tried to chase me around the classroom trying to take off my eyebrow. I love myself both ways, but I do personally think I get treated better with makeup on. I get more compliments with makeup, people talk to me more when I have makeup on vs. not but I am happy with who I am with or without makeup. It’s about the inside, not the outside!”
22. – Laci Harrison
“Most of the time I don’t wear makeup. When I do it’s usually when I work promos or work as a bartender and looking attractive is part of the job. Generally, in my daily setting, people don’t treat me differently, but most of the time if I wear makeup I’m in a very different situation where my appearance is supposed to be part of the experience and attract attention.
My husband and kids say I look funny when I wear makeup. My friends usually say I look nice. My lack of makeup is two-part; first that I’m lazy. I’m lucky if I wash my face daily. Second, I’m a hippie at heart and most cosmetics and personal care products have insane amounts of chemicals in them that pollute the water or worse. I do buy natural makeup for when I do wear it though.”
23.– Abbey Miranda
“I don’t notice heaps of difference, but I do notice that when I wear makeup, everyone thinks I’m older than I actually am. This means that with makeup, I’m hit on by much older guys than when I’m not wearing makeup. Usually, when I’m not wearing makeup, I get hit on by guys my age (and sometimes younger!). Everyone mistakes me for 18 (I’m 16) and I’ve even been mistaken for 22 before! It’s always 18-year-olds that hit on me with makeup, but sometimes it’ll be men aged like 30. Other than that, I don’t notice much of a difference, just everyone is very surprised when I tell them my age.”
24. – Ankita Srivastava
“Perfectly the same. I’d rather say when I am not wearing makeup some people would still come up to me and comment on my makeup. I constantly have to tell people whether or not I am wearing makeup. There are two drops of BB cream and some sparkly eye shadow. And my favorite nude lips”
25. – Alexandra Misăilă
“As far as my own opinion goes, without any makeup, I look like an egg. In spite of my medium brown hair, my eyebrows are dark blonde and my eyelashes are transparent. My skin has moments when it breaks out and it’s horrible. If I ever went out without any makeup, I’d most likely be treated as a child. I don’t have pictures of that, but I have pictures of my ‘no makeup’ makeup look, which is some mascara, a bit of nude eyeshadow to elongate the eye, brows subtly done and some contouring.
Oh, and lip balm. When I do wear makeup, though, I tend to cake it on. Not in the Instagram beauty guru way, but I do like my makeup full-coverage. I go full glam just because it makes my confidence soar. I don’t think that in my case, people treat me differently because of how much makeup I’m wearing (if they do, at all; my friends and boyfriend don’t, obviously), but because of how I feel in my own skin and how comfortable I am around them.
When I feel anxious because of how I look, people tend to change their attitude just because I show less confidence.”
26. – Sue Croke
“I notice a slight difference in the interested gender’s approach towards me. And ladies generally complimenting on how nice I look with the makeover I put a good amount of time in. They sometimes ask what brand I used, treating me like a walking commercial board. If I don’t wear makeup, I have zero interest in getting noticed. Cause I don’t wear makeup only when I go cosmetics shopping, grocery shopping, when I’ve had zero sleep and don’t feel like looking ‘good’, when going to school, or anywhere else. The only thing that disappeared a bit was my lipstick, but it still looked good enough to go to another wedding if I had one to go at 11 pm.
Oh, and now that I remember it, I hate it when Sephora sales assistants assume that I don’t usually wear makeup just because I go shopping with that face in the first photo. “Do you really use these products that you’re buying?” they ask. Little do they know, I probably know more than they do. But, other than that, it seems like I get a lot of compliments on how I look when I wear nicely done makeup. And when I don’t, nobody treats me like shit either. It’s just that nobody walks up to you to say ‘you are mesmerizing with that childlike face of yours’ when you don’t wear any. You look much younger and youthful, but not ‘hot’ when you don’t wear makeup, let’s face it. So that’s what happens consequently.”
27. – Krysta Storer (クリスタストーラー)
“I have been told several times that I look younger without makeup. When my mother was in the hospital about a year ago I had no energy to put on makeup, so I would visit her ‘au natural’. Every nurse that came in asked me which school I went to – and they didn’t mean university, they meant high school. They all thought this 34-year-old woman was a high-schooler. You would think this would keep me away from the makeup, right? Hell no – I enjoy wearing it, and it makes me actually feel like an adult. Especially with the response I get when I’m not wearing it.”