If you’ve tried searching for advice on how to make yourself attractive, you’ve probably noticed a common theme: it’s useless. Here’s why.
Beauty gurus provide entertainment through variety, not perfection
Most beauty bloggers have a “quantity over quality” content strategy, for several reasons.
First, most beauty bloggers are addicted to makeup. They’ll always love testing out new products, even if their old ones are perfectly good. It’s good for business too: they can make money by doing paid reviews, selling products through affiliate links, and racking up views on their channels from all their makeup-obsessed fans.
Second, beauty bloggers generally act as their own models. Instead of showing the perfect looks for various people, they have to show a variety of looks for one person: themselves. Unfortunately, out of the various “interesting” makeup looks they demonstrate, almost none will actually make you more attractive.
Consider the following examples from three of the most popular beauty gurus on YouTube, Carli Bybel, Tanya Burr, and Lisa Eldridge.
And compare them to three different looks by the same women:
Obviously, they look much better in the latter three videos. So why do the first three even exist? Because if these women only made videos on how to do flattering makeup, they’d run out of things to discuss.
Now, I’m sure some people would look good in the makeup from the first three. Maybe these beauty gurus know it’s not ideal on their own faces, but just wanted to demonstrate the techniques for people who can pull it off. The problem is that there’s no guidance on how to know whether you’re one of those people.
Magazines exist to sell you products
That’s how publishers make money—not from subscriptions (they’d give magazines away for free if they could still get people to read them), but from the companies who pay to place advertisements on every other page.
And the advertisements are never completely separate from the content. Have you noticed how magazines will carry one brand’s ad, then feature another product from that brand (sometimes the exact same one!) in the “beauty editor’s picks” section? Quelle coïncidence. Not.
I once attended a “Confessions of a Beauty Editor” event at a department store (not that I was invited to the event, but I happened to be browsing the nearby clothing racks and managed to overhear most of it). The editor explained how brands get their products mentioned in magazines. Hint: it’s mainly through networks of relationships, mutual favors, and not-quite-bribes.
One example was a gift given by a brand’s marketing team to someone she knew in the beauty editing industry: a bottle of chilled Dom Perignon packed with ice in a silver Tiffany & Co. champagne bucket. Who do you think raved about the product in her next column?
Just because you read about some miracle product in a magazine, doesn’t mean it’s going to make you more attractive.
Makeup artists create makeup looks, not beautiful faces.
Makeup artists call themselves “artists” for a reason: most of them treat makeup application as an art form. When it comes to art, creativity, innovation, and self-expression are more important than mere beauty (as exemplified by the cover of this book).
Perhaps you share this manifesto.
If that’s the case, keep doing you. But when I do my makeup, I care more about looking like an attractive human than a painted sculpture.
Beauty books are a mixed bag
So many books pretend to be about beauty when they’re really about makeup. These books are great for learning how to apply makeup, getting inspiration, or following the lives of your favorite celebrity makeup artists. But do they help you become more beautiful? 99% of the time, the answer is no.
For example, Makeup Your Mind by Francois Nars shows you how to use up an entire pan of eyeshadow at once.
The Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual includes these gems of wisdom, in case you don’t remember them from kindergarten.
Am I the only one who finds it super annoying when you’re looking for beauty advice and get sermons about “inner beauty”?
Appearance is distinct from character! Let’s acknowledge that, instead of pretending that nurturing your inner goodness will make you more physically beautiful.
Makeup books also contain tons of advice on stuff to buy.
Thanks, but I doubt I need seven different tools for a basic everyday look. And spare me the sermons about how often you should clean your brushes and throw out old makeup. I don’t want to become a makeup artist or open a beauty salon, I just want to look good.
One good resource is The Original Beauty Bible by Paula Begoun. She offers rational, no-nonsense advice.
My only issue with this book, though, is that it focuses on how to remove flaws rather than how to add beauty. She details all the ways to take care of wrinkles, acne, excess body hair, etc., but doesn’t say anything about which hairstyle to choose or lipstick color to wear (or even whether or not you need lipstick—she just assumes you do and then tells you which ones to buy). If you follow her advice, you might prevent any egregious beauty mistakes… but you’ll probably still be a plain Jane.
If you must buy a makeup book, I recommend the ones by the late, great, Kevyn Aucoin. He sounds like a lovely person from his writing, and you might pick up a few tips.
Once again, though, there’s nothing in here that really transformed my appearance. The two things I remember most from his books are that you should always apply moisturizer and dab off the excess with a Kleenex before you do your foundation, and that Julia Roberts has such flawless skin it’s not fair.
The bottom line
Why is it so hard to find decent beauty advice? Here’s the simplest answer: there’s more money to be made from telling people how to look fashionable/cool/trendy/normal than there is from teaching them how to be attractive.
That’s because when you’re obsessed with being trendy, you constantly have to buy the latest stuff. When your goal is to be attractive, you just have to find out what works for you, and stick to it.