Makeup vs. Composition
There are always these “makeup vs. natural” comparisons on the net, and while I’m going to do a bigger writeup on this eventually (there’s a LOT that needs to be said), I’ll start with this.
For now, just look at the images below (that I recently bumped into on the net), then read at the bottom…
If you aren’t going to take the time to carefully analyze this, you pretty much have no choice but to fall for it. Trouble is, makeup isn’t actually causing maybe 85% of the change here. (as with probably every similar makeup-comparison I’ve ever seen.)
I’m going to list what’s causing the improved appearance, but, first, here’s an important understanding you need to have:
I believe that good looks are almost entirely dependent on “composition”. Composition is arrangement of your hair, your face’s features (what determines “pretty” vs. “ugly”), your current expression, your clothes, and anything that one could say helps “arrange the furniture” around your face. Lighting isn’t literally composition, but it helps as well. But, for now, the point is that composition is by far the largest part of this.
Here’s what I think is making the girl above “get beautiful”…
1 – Notice the gradually nicer and nicer hair…
2 – The photos start out “sharpened” (Photoshop effect), increasing skin defects. But then we switch to normal. After picture #3 (below left), notice also how the scrappy eyebrows disappear, due to no more sharpening.
See, if I sharpen one of the normal photos, here’s what happens:
3 – Toward the end, the photographer switches from frontal flash (left pics), to soft-shadowed, directional light (right pics). Portrait photographers usually avoid frontal flash at all costs. Directional soft-light, on the other hand, brings you nice, soft shadows, and better tone. So, basically, we’ve got more cheating here.
4 – At the end, we suddenly switch to good body angles/poses, and clothes that work better for the picture. (see above) These contribute to kicking the mind into “the-scene-is-beautiful” mode. (By the way, are you noticing a theme yet? Conditions start out lousy, and we gradually step up the ladder.)
5 – At the end, we switch from “occasional good expressions” to “only good expressions”. She also doesn’t do her “eyes burst wide-open” thing until the end; something that Asian models are famous for.
(Note: Not everyone is designed to pull that off, ladies! I’m just afraid some readers are going to get that idea, and start going around scaring people – Oh, and if it works for you, remember to be real… don’t just start doing this in mid-conversation, now.)
Here’s some additional food for thought:
Composition is doing everything here: hair, clothes, angles, expression, and poses. And the uncomfortable closeness of the camera.
The lighting is different too, though that isn’t composition.
The puzzle of good looks has multiple pieces, and, for maximum win, you need as many of those pieces present as possible. Removing a few marks on your skin, and adding a hint of color may do something for you, but it won’t doesn’t cause the colossal change everyone thinks it does. As I understand it, it’s composition that has the real deathgrip on how you look. See below… this is all the same person.
In Hollywood, many roles are asked of you, and every makeup artist, hairdresser, photographer, and director has something different for you to try. These above are some of the many compositions that actress Scarlett Johansson has used.
Having said all the above, I think there are a few situations in which makeup does work well for people. For example, middle-aged and older women with more wrinkles might do quite well to wear concealer, and just even out their skin. This is a good way to lessen the appearance of age/weight on the face. It’s not the same as applying colors, though, which attempt to ADD something.
I’m not certain yet, but I have a theory that colors on the face, in and of themselves, might not do much for attraction. (Certain, very particular faces will surely benefit, but I mean on average.) For instance, I’m still working on this one, but I’ve gotten the impression that adding any color around the eyes that’s darker-than-skin might increase the impression of age, and suck away from one’s sense of youth and vibrance. It’s like the darker the eyes look, the more… heavy the face looks, in a way. That might work for a 16 year-old who wants to look 20, but not for someone older, who doesn’t want to increase age.
There are times when you DO like to see color regardless, however. For example, dressing for certain occasions comes with lots of packaged psychology. When you’re at some event, like a dinner, dance, night-club, etc, seeing a heavily made-up face might be pleasant. The person might just look fit for the event, and it can enhance the sense of festivity. This is a little tricky, though, because it’s hard to know if the makeup ITSELF adds much to the person, or if it’s the situation that is activating a constructed appreciation. (So, what if this effect depends on society’s current view of makeup? What if this appreciation would disappear quickly if society dumped makeup, and shifted its focus over to composition?)
For now, that’s just some speculation of mine. If you’re curious about it yourself, you can do this “before and after” Google image search. (remember to look at your “Safe Search” setting, in the top-right) In the “afters”, try to notice how much ELSE is changing, besides makeup.
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