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A new study has found that most men prefer women to look 'natural'. But how natural exactly? asks Richard Holt.
I didn’t realise until quite late in life that some women don’t just wear make-up, they wear a full-on disguise – the sort you might adopt if you were evading capture. At university one of new flatmates came downstairs late one night and I thought we were being burgled.
It had been obvious before that she wore a lot of make-up, but I naively hadn’t realised that without it she would look like a completely different person. On a later occasion I overheard her, in unpainted form, opening the door to a guy who knew her quite well and having to overcome his puzzled expression by saying: “John, it’s me!”
Apparently half of women admit to doing their make-up at least four times a day and a whopping 67 percent only go bare-faced twice a month.
These findings are presented as part of a campaign to give women the confidence to “pare back the amount of make-up they wear” and to let their “own natural radiance shine through”.
The study was carried out by a company called St Ives.
In case anyone remains unconvinced, the company has enlisted the help of Lydia Bright, star of a television show called The Only Way Is Essex, to front the campaign.
Bright, 23, says of her time on TOWIE: “I don’t know whether anyone remembers my first ever appearance, but I was caked in make-up. It looked like I’d applied it with a trowel.”
I don’t recall her first appearance – or any of them, if I’m honest – but I am prepared to believe her. Not least because we are treated to before-and-after shots showing what she looks like in full warpaint, and then after the damascene moment when she was told she may be overdoing it a touch.
The only problem is that the “after” shot shows a woman still wearing what appears to be quite a lot of make-up. The “before” shot looks as if she’s trying out as an Alice Cooper lookalike.
“No make-up” meaning “less make-up than usual” forms part of the tabloid narrative.
So when the campaign says that three-quarters of men prefer the natural look, it is in this context. They don’t actually mean “natural” – ie the face as it really is. They mean tabloid natural. The illusion of natural. The campaign is telling women that cosmetics are a good thing, but that they could be applying them better.
And I think I’m fine with that. I’ve got absolutely no problem with make-up, as long as the person underneath remains vaguely recognisable, and doesn’t look like she’s been painted in the style of a late-1930s Picasso.