Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Use Makeup Properly?
“DO YOU want to wear a little makeup?” Nina was surprised to hear her mother ask that question. Two years earlier, she had been refused permission to wear makeup. But on this special occasion, a wedding reception they were to attend, her mom had decided that it was time for Nina to learn the womanly art of applying makeup. “I was a little nervous,” recalls Nina. “I didn’t know how to put it on right. So Mom put on a little lipstick and blush for me.”
Perhaps your parents similarly feel that it would be appropriate for you to wear makeup.* When used properly—and sparingly—makeup can enhance one’s appearance. When used incorrectly, though, it has the very opposite effect. “Some girls put makeup on and it looks good,” says one teenage boy. “But some girls put gobs of that stuff on, and it makes them look horrible.”
“When they put on too bright a color, and it’s really, really bright,” adds a teenage girl, “it just makes them look like a clown!” How can you use makeup in a way that will enhance—not detract from—your looks?
Guidelines From God’s Word
Cosmetics are nothing new. Hidden amid Israelite ruins have been found bowls or palettes that served a surprisingly modern purpose. These “were used to prepare colors for the face” of Israelite women. According to The Biblical Archaeologist, February 1955, “the use of . . . cosmetics was very extensive” even in Bible times.—Ezekiel 23:40.
Today, the cosmetic industry spends some two thousand million dollars a year on advertising in the United States alone. Using stunningly attractive models, they promote the latest “look,” ranging from “natural” to offbeat. This “look,” they claim, can be yours if only you purchase a battery of cosmetic products. Few girls succeed in looking like fashion models, though. And even when they do, the new “look” can become obsolete before the first tube of lipstick is finished.
The Bible helps you escape being controlled by the winds of fashion. It says: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) In Bible times, some Christian women may have been inclined to wear the showy clothing and elaborate hairstyles that were popular back then. But the apostle Paul counseled: “I desire the women to adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind, not with styles of hair braiding and gold or pearls or very expensive garb.”—1 Timothy 2:9.
Paul’s counsel does not rule out your looking attractive. It simply means that your appearance should be “well-arranged,” or suitable, not showy; modest and sensible, not bizarre or faddish. The Greek word for “modesty” carries the thought of having ‘respect for the opinions of others,’ and you should particularly have respect for the opinions of your parents. Let’s therefore see how this may relate to the wearing of makeup.
Before Applying Makeup
Since makeup is supposed to enhance your looks, not create a mask or a disguise, it makes sense first to take care of your natural appearance and overall health. Maintaining a balanced diet and getting adequate rest and regular exercise may thus do more to increase your attractiveness than any makeup can.
Beauty consultant Jane Parks-McKay further urges young girls “to start with the basics—namely, regular, effective skin care. . . . Many people tend to neglect their skin . . . [and then] cover up their less-than-attractive skins with cosmetics in the hope this will make them beautiful.”
Makeup works best on well-cared-for skin. Explains the book A Lifetime of Beauty: “Cleansing the skin is like preparing a wall for a fresh coat of paint: no matter how pretty the color, the paint job will look slipshod if there are dirt and rough spots underneath. Poorly cleansed skin will look dull and flaky.”
A makeup artist thus told Awake!: “In the morning, a girl can wash her face with a good facial cleanser. She can follow this with a facial toner and a good moisturizer.”
Analyzing Your Needs
Now, take a good look at your face and analyze your assets and liabilities. Are you endowed with expressive eyes, a reasonably clear complexion, or healthy, even flesh tones? Then you will likely need little or no makeup. On the other hand, perhaps your skin is excessively oily (common during the teen years) and acne-prone. Or you may have some facial feature (such as your cheekbones) you’d like to accentuate. A judicious use of makeup just might help.
In Bible times some women wore black paint to give the illusion of ‘enlarged eyes.’ (Jeremiah 4:30) Today, eye shadow, eyeliner pencils, and liquid eyeliners are used for similar effects. Foundation creams and lotions can even out a blotchy complexion. Blush can highlight your cheekbones.
What if you need some help in choosing or applying makeup? There are books available in public libraries that can help. But you may also want to consult your mother or an older friend. A teenage girl named Tina recalls: “Mom took me shopping and had a makeup clerk figure out what colors I should wear.” Beauty consultants in reputable stores can offer advice on what colors go best with your skin tones and how makeup can best be applied. But since their job is to sell you products, take care that you do not purchase products you do not really need. And because of the unique needs of your Christian life-style, you will want to be sure that you do not purchase colors that might work well in a formal evening setting but would be inappropriate for school or Christian activities.
Styles of makeup vary from land to land. But a few general principles can be stated:
Consider Your Skin Type. Since most teenagers have oily skin, you will likely want to stick with water-based, oil-free makeups. These go on lighter, so you will look less made up. Many also feel that oily makeups aggravate acne.
Read Labels. Compare the ingredients of low-price brands with the expensive versions. Perhaps the only real difference is price and packaging. Reading labels is particularly important if you have allergic reactions to makeup.
Use Bright Lighting. If the lighting is inadequate, you may put on too much makeup. Since makeup applied by fluorescent light may look harsh in sunlight, try applying your makeup near a window so you can see how it looks in natural light.
Use Makeup Sparingly. Too much of even a good thing can be harmful. (Compare Proverbs 24:13; 25:27.) If your face virtually screams “makeup!” you are wearing too much or you are wearing colors that are too strong. Makeup that is overdone cheapens your appearance and may even give the wrong impression as to your moral principles. (Compare Ezekiel 23:36-42.) So stick to subtle, not gaudy, shades. Master the techniques of makeup application so that blush does not look like a painted streak across your face or eye shadow does not make you look like a raccoon.
Cleanse Your Face Thoroughly. Says the book A Lifetime of Beauty: “Never go to sleep at night without removing every trace of makeup . . . Habitually sleeping with a layer of dirt, debris and dead skin cells stuck to your face will leave your complexion looking muddy and dull.” One dermatologist even claims that “you risk infection and irritation if you fail to clean off all makeup each night before retiring.” Use a makeup solvent, such as a cold cream, to cleanse your face.
“Prettiness may be vain,” says Proverbs 31:30, and even artfully applied makeup cannot mask a negative disposition or a shallow mind. The Bible reminds us: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment . . . Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”—1 Peter 3:3, 4, New International Version.
See the article “When Will My Parents Let Me Wear Makeup?” appearing in the May 22, 1990, issue of Awake!
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Consumer advocate Elaine Brumberg reports: “Many chemicals and cosmetic ingredients are capable of penetrating the skin and entering the body.” Some commonly used ingredients are suspected carcinogens.
Other ingredients (usually fragrances and preservatives) are known to cause allergic reactions ranging from itching to sneezing. True, some products claim to be hypoallergenic or “allergy tested.” But how you will react to a product can be ascertained only by experience and by carefully scrutinizing labels.
Another prevalent danger is bacteriological contamination. Mascara can become the breeding ground for microorganisms transferred there from the eyelid or fingers via the mascara applicator. This can cause eye infections if the mascara wand is allowed to scratch the eye. Contamination is particularly a problem in store samplers into which dozens of people have dipped their fingers. Some experts therefore recommend that you avoid applying store samples to your face.
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Your mother may be able to teach you the art of applying makeup