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Do Men Like Makeup?

I’m going to address the popular question that keeps springing up again and again:

Do guys like girls who wear makeup?

The answer is yes... and no.

Before I begin articulating on this, I’m going to say it right out: I am not speaking for all men but I am speaking for the majority of men. Need more information? Hit up Google so you can all foray into the wonderful world of evolutionary psychology and the laws of attraction.

I also want to say that we’re talking about makeup completely objectively. That means we’re talking about what men think of makeup on an as-is basis (as an observer) without worrying about your foundation rubbing off on his shirt or the taste of glitter and plastic when you kiss him. The question that you’re actually asking is if men like makeup when they look at your face.

Thirdly, we’re talking about an everyday situation. Usually girls who ask this question want to know if guys mind it when they wear makeup every day. For special occasions, well isn’t it obvious? Most of the women on the red carpet wear makeup. For birthdays and holidays and parties, makeup is like a fashion accessory. We want to know if makeup is okay when shopping at the mall or going out for coffee.
"The guys who are informed (and quite likely have sisters) will say that they like makeup that enhances a girl's features."

So what do men say when girls ask this question? The less informed members of the opposite sex will claim that they prefer no makeup on a girl. The ones who are informed (and quite likely have sisters) will say that they like makeup that enhances a girl's features.

These boys have brought up a good point. Things that enhance our features make us look biologically attractive. Men look for high cheekbones, full lips, big eyes because these are things that spell out good genes. If you want to read more on this, check out Jena Pincott and read about the Golden Ratio.

Think about it. Have you ever seen a tutorial on how to make your eyes look smaller? Or your nose bigger? Or your cheeks paler? Because these things mean that you’re not as healthy. Some type of features are more attractive than others and have helped women secure mates over thousands of years. So let’s add that to the list of what guys like...

1. Enhance your features – just like sucking in your cheeks during pictures, a little bronzer can make you look way hotter.

Here is what men don’t like in makeup: obvious makeup. That goes anywhere from racoon eyes to cakey foundation. Maybe some guys do like tastefully done thick eyeliner (he’s an Amy Winehouse fan?) but the majority of them want you to keep it simple.

2. Keep it simple – don’t wear bright red lipstick to a grocery store unless you’re Gwen Stefani.

Notice how I used the words ‘obvious’ instead of ‘too much’ to describe what sort of makeup men don’t like? Because too much is OKAY... as long as it doesn’t look like it is too much.



In 2006, Cosmo did a study on men's opinions on makeup. They were presented with one out of three pictures of the same model and asked to rate her attractiveness:
  • One with minimal makeup: concealer and mascara.
  • Another one with slightly heavier makeup: foundation, concealer, light blush, mascara, lip gloss.
  • A third one with full makeup: foundation, concealer, blush, bronzer, highlighter, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara, lip gloss.
It's important to note that none of these girls looked overly made up but they did look different in every photo.

85% of men preferred the third photo. When asked if they thought the girl was wearing makeup in the latter photo, they answered that she was wearing either minimal or none. Furthermore, when asked what makeup they thought she had on, they answered lip gloss and sometimes eyeliner.
"My friend has always gone on tirades about “cake faces” and how girls shouldn’t wear makeup. He thought I didn’t wear makeup. What an idiot!"
Besides Cosmo, here’s a case study: ME. Before my tan this summer did me in, I was geared with MAC foundation, concealer, powder, the works basically. I was sharing a room with a male friend in Vegas and when I woke up in the morning- he asked me if I was sick. Granted, I did have a few breakouts and I was hungover as hell but I didn’t think I deserved that sort of treatment. While he watched me put on my makeup in the bathroom, he was in shock. My friend has always gone on tirades about “cake faces” and how girls shouldn’t wear makeup. He thought I didn’t wear makeup. What an idiot.

3. Keep it natural looking – even if you have a pound of foundation on your face, you can make it look natural with a few tools. Go get yourself some primer!

This primer point is important because sometimes what looks good in the morning can melt into a sticky mess at the end of the day. Keeping it natural looking all day can be a challenge but you want him to like you the way you look all day.
Gogus olculeri

4. Keep it in place – running mascara never looks natural.

I’m going to throw a bone to the boys and help them out because I know how much this can be a problem. Like I said, this article is meant to address makeup on a purely visual basis but let’s get real, some boys don’t like all that crap on you when they’re kissing you...

5. If you’re planning on rubbing up against him, go light or skip the heavy stuff.

And that really concludes this article. These aren’t makeup tips but a slight hint of what you should do if you’re looking to look better for the opposite sex. If you’re naturally beautiful, well... why are you worrying about this article, you lucky bitch?


Need more proof? Just show the closest guy a bunch of pictures of Kim Kardashian and Angelina Jolie without makeup on. That’ll do the trick.

So here is our answer: Men love makeup. They largely prefer it. They just don't like obvious makeup. And most don't know that they like makeup.

What Guys Said 18

  • I don't like girls wearing makeup at all, It's good because it gives them more confidence and all. But I've seen girls without makeup and they look a lot better (paler of course) but that's what I go for. Most guys can't tell when a girl is wearing makeup unless she looks like an extra from charlie and the chocolate factory. So I don't think it's a worth while investment, the only people who care/notice are other girls. I used to have glitter left over my face and would only find out hours later!

  • Mostly agree with you. I personally like make up when it complements the girls features.

  • I agree with you 100% I don't like cake faces.

  • I only like makeup on a girl if I've seen her without it first.

  • No and yes

    it depend how good you really do look we can see your face behind clown makeup but if you hide it you look less repulsive. not you but other lol

  • Agreed. Men don't hate makeup, men hate girls who don't look natural with makeup on.

    A small note regarding 1 though, myself and many other guys I know hate that 'sucked in cheek look' girls do for photos. It's the same issue as caked on makeup, the look doesn't appear natural and it's a turn-off as a result.

  • I have one bit of a problem with this article... there exist guys who are attracted to "natural/earthy" women. How is that ignorance in a person if they are just naturally attracted? I acknowledge that make up enhances, and it does help aid many women... However if a woman looks good without makeup, that is far more attractive to me. Perhaps it was just the wording of "less informed members of the opposite sex" I get the purpose of make up, and agree with you as a whole. good read

  • I love makeup on a girl. It shows they care about themselves and how they appear to men. However, makeup smells delicious and I get this urge to lick their face when they wear it.

  • Makeup is used for covering up a defect. I would much rather see a womans real beauty rather than try to look like something else. I see a woman with makeup and I wonder what is she trying to cover up. The name of the one brand says it all. "Coverup"

  • I'd have to say yeah makeup is not necessary but I like a little. I like no makeup the best

  • I like make-up on a girl as long as it isn't a massacre but at the end of the day there is nothing more beautiful then seeing my baby girl in all her glory (without make-up) all natural :)

  • No, we dont like makeup...

  • I seem to have a gift of seeing trough makeup. If there is an imperfection a girl is trying to hide, it will attract attention immediately. And yes, I can always tell. Most of my friends can too. And guess what... Most of us prefer the no makeup natural look.

    I can tell you, makeup for me is in a way cheating. You augment your looks to attract the opposite sex with something you do not have.

    Personally, I think makeup is the result of mass culture. It is also a multi-billion dollar industry. ;)

  • yes offcourse

  • I don't like makeup, it covers the real you, it covers your natural beauty. I despise makeup.

  • I think that I good rule of thumb is that if I can tell that you're wearing make-up, then you're probably wearing too much, but if it's too subtle for me to notice, go for it.

    There are some exceptions, like at some formal parties you can have bright lips.

  • I'm a guy. I used to look nerdy. Now I work out, eat lots of fruit, nuts & vegetables, run, cyclie, drink lots of water, take vitamins, avoid the sun, do facial exercises, cleanse, tone, exfoliate my skin, shave carefully & use Retin-A to stop my acne. No makeup! I dress well. It works. Girls stop, stare, point me out to their friends, or sometimes ask my number.

    I hate that girls get away with just face-painting I avoid those girls and go for ones with interesting personalities.

What Girls Said 30

  • @glitterberryalisa Exactly. It's not that we're not beautiful- it takes some serious skill to change the defining characteristics of our face just with makeup but makeup helps make it more attractive by smoothing out our skin, making our eyes appear brighter and larger etc.

  • this is my opinion, but my take on it is that NOTHING against girls but lets be honest, guys always say "oh I like it when girls are natural" well I think they really mean natural makeup because most girls don't look attractive with a bare face, nothing against them, I sure look dead myself without makeup on lol so as long as you don't have a TON of makeup caked on your face, I really don't think it matters that much. as long as you look attractive and normal, guys will like you.

  • I don't know if I agree with that Jonny. You're right, most guys can't tell when a girl is wearing make up but they usually know when she's not.

    P.S. Like I said, anything that will rub off on your guy is a no-no.

  • AWESOME ARTICLE. Thank you. You finally answered the question. Men actually love makeup, they just don't know their girl is wearing it ;]

  • And most don't know that they like makeup. - Indeed. ^^

  • I do admit that the study has flaws but the premise is there. There have been a lot of experiments done regarding women with or without makeup. All men wish for naturally beautiful mates but makeup makes it possible for women who aren't naturally beautiful to look closer to the ideal. If it didn't, no one would really bother with makeup.

    My point is that no one is perfect and I can't argue about men's perceptions of women and their superficiality. All I can do is accept them for what they are.

  • Sorry, I don't mean to make this an argument, but like I said, these kinds of studies irritate me lol

  • Yes pictures are a different story, the technology itself in cameras are used to enhance features, with makeup added and light reflecting differently from such areas, it is more visible for the person's features to stand out. These kinds of studies get on my nerves, especially because they only gather a very small percentage of men and apply it to the whole, when in reality they have already told you what they prefer whether it makes you look better or not, they like naturalness.

  • Secondly, this article isn't about boosting self-esteem in women (which is a gargantuan issue) or making a political statement or making an active stance for or against makeup.

    It's simply about addressing the popular question as stated in the title and answering it in the body of the article.

    In no shape or form have I let my own personal views about makeup reflect in this article and I don't intent to start doing it in the comments. If I ever wish to do so, I'll write a separate article.

  • 3.) I find it funny how makeup can look "natural," why not just be natural in the first place?

    Most make up ends up messing up your face when you get old, makes skin conditions worse, etc. Yes women should fix themselves up to attract men...by looking healthy, eating things that will naturally enhance your beauty, being clean, and dressing nice.

  • We're not talking about one man about his opinion of his girlfriend's makeup. As I stated above, this is generally what men think. Obviously someone who sees his girlfriend with and without makeup will know the difference. But if you place a picture of his girlfriend with and without makeup on a website like hotornot, the one with the makeup will get the higher rating if her makeup looks natural. As I said, usually it's only the men who know the process are aware of its effects.

  • I disagree with this article completely.

    1.) Supposedly guys don't notice when their girl has makeup on, though they agree that it enhances their look? How can they notice that their girl's look has been enhanced when they don't even notice the makeup in the first place? Most guys I ask say it doesn't make a difference.

    2.) How is makeup ever going to boost confidence when the girls are so dependent on covering their flaws? A lot of girls freak out at the thought of being seen without makeup

  • That's an interesting assertion, Skeptic. I wonder how you're able to tell, at first glance, whether a girl is wearing makeup or not.

  • Really interesting. Do you perhaps have a link to/more detailed source information on the Cosmo study? I'd love to see the difference between the three pictures the men were shown.

  • Hi MmaTender, I totally agree. That's why I indicated at the beginning that I didn't speak for all men. Certainly, there are people who genuinely prefer girls without makeup on because they just don't like/agree with the idea of makeup but I find that lots of guys who claim they like girls better without makeup are usually thinking of girls who actually do wear makeup but just hide it well.

    And of course, any girl who can look beautiful without any makeup at all is a treasure to all men :)

  • Great article! I totally agree with the importance of NATURAL looking make up. (Even when it's 10 different products patted onto their face.)

  • Thanks for this article! :P I'm a Makeup Artist and agree with this ;)

  • I think consistency from day to day can have something to do with it. I'm very fair, so if I want to have eye lashes at all, I have to layer on the mascara. Even the browns look dark on my white lashes. So I just whip out the blackest black and run with it.

    My brother, who has known me my whole life had to in seriousness ask if my eye lashes were naturally dark because its a daily thing. People don't notice till a change occurs much of the time

  • I totally agree with this article! And to the guys who only want women who look gorgeous with absolutely no-make up on: good luck finding that many, and even more good luck finding one who's into YOU and your oh-so-flawless self. Sorry that I need make up to look so much better because of my pale-and-reddish skin, undereye circles, couple of zits, and light-colored lips. Also keep in mind that even models and celebrities wear make-up. I'm not advocating a lot of it but enough to look better.

  • Diavolo... all I can see is that I doubt you have that gift and I doubt your friends have it either (unless you're make up artists). Maybe you have the gift of seeing through bad makeup but that's one that most of us have.

    As for cheating, there are worse forms of "cheating" out there i.e. telling a girl you'll call her, making her think you're nicer than you are or interested in her favorite movies. We all do it to some extent.

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