Makeup As Self-Expression

I recently came across a paper[1] by researchers Rosanna K. Smith, Michelle R. Vandellen, and Lan Anh N. Ton about a study they conducted to explore how makeup affects other people’s perceptions. I’m a big advocate of radical self-expression, and I love exploring all the different ways people express themselves whether through art, fashion, lifestyle, cosmetics, music, or language, to name a few. Makeup has long been used as a way for people to express themselves and enhance their appearance, and my decades in the traditional beauty industry got me curious about the study’s results.

To my surprise, the researchers found that when people wear makeup, they are often seen as more authentic by others — that makeup can actually enhance the way others perceive a person’s genuineness. This runs counter to the notion that people who wear makeup are ‘hiding who they really are’ or are ‘trying to be someone they’re not.’ It seems that the majority of people think that makeup helps bring out ‘the real person’, allowing individuals to highlight their best features. Certainly, as a person who has worn plenty of makeup in my day, I do feel the sense of confidence and self-assuredness that a well-made-up face can afford.

The study also revealed that wearing makeup can affect how people perceive others’ self-promotion abilities such as through social media or in public settings. When people wear makeup, they are perceived as more socially skilled and competent. This may be because makeup can boost an individual’s confidence, which in turn can help them present themselves more effectively to others. It may also be because makeup is a reflection of personal style and self-care.

The effects of makeup on perceived authenticity and self-promotion were more pronounced for women than for men, likely due to current societal norms, as women are still more often expected to wear makeup than men.

Because I’m a bit of a philosophical nerd, I started to think about the idea of makeup and authentic self-expression from the viewpoint of existentialism and essentialism.

In case you’re not familiar, existentialism is a concept that focuses on the idea that individuals have the freedom to create their own meaning and purpose in life. It emphasizes the idea that humans have the autonomy to shape their own existence and that life has no inherent or predetermined meaning. According to existentialism, individuals are responsible for creating their own values, beliefs, and purpose, rather than relying on external factors or societal norms to define their identity.

On the other hand, essentialism suggests that things or individuals have inherent, fixed, and unchanging characteristics that define their nature or essence. It emphasizes the idea that there are underlying and unchangeable qualities or attributes that make something that it is. Essentialism tends to view things or individuals as having intrinsic traits that determine their identity, rather than being shaped by external influences.

Existentialism emphasizes personal freedom and individual responsibility in creating meaning and purpose in life, while essentialism focuses on the idea of inherent and unchanging characteristics that define something or someone. Existentialism emphasizes the role of personal agency and choice, while essentialism emphasizes the idea of fixed and inherent qualities or attributes.

From an existentialist’s point of view, individuals have the freedom to create their own meaning and purpose in life. So when it comes to makeup, this means that individuals have the autonomy to wear cosmetics as an art form, to create a new identity, and to shape their appearance according to their personal preferences and values. Makeup can be seen as a transformative tool that allows individuals to express their unique transformation of self and create their own meaning in how they present themselves to the world. There are aspects of fantasy, exploration, and creative freedom in existential makeup use.

By contrast, from an essentialist’s point of view, there are inherent and unchanging characteristics of a person. As such, makeup is used to emphasize and clarify existing qualities so that ‘the real person shines through’. Cosmetics use is less about drama and distortion and more about nuance and natural enhancement. Makeup use represents a truthful projection of identity.

Which is right? Which is wrong? Which is correct? Which is conflicted? My opinion is…there’s no such thing. Makeup use is subjective, and only the individual wearer will truly know the underlying reason for wearing makeup on any occasion. Furthermore, I believe makeup colors, textures, types, and finishes don’t necessarily fall into the camp of existentialist or essentialist. Of course, it could be argued that long false eyelashes, bold colors, and glitter a la drag could be considered existentialist, but not necessarily. To any individual, drag could be essentialist, an expression of the realness that is hidden within.

Additionally, a person may wear natural makeup as a practice of conformity to more conservative social standards which may not necessarily be essentialist.

I’m curious about your thoughts. What’s your opinion on wearing makeup and authenticity? Do you wear it to transform, to enhance, to hide, to reveal, or all of the above? Let me know in the comments below.



[1] Makeup Who You Are: Self-Expression Enhances the Perceived Authenticity and Public Promotion of Beauty Work, Rosanna K. Smith, Michelle R. Vandellen, lan Anh N. Ton, Advance Access Publication, January 26, 2021

Give Beauty Roundup

With the holidays just around the corner, many people have begun shopping for loved ones’ gifts. Of course the holidays aren’t just about presents, but studies do show that giving and receiving gifts helps us feel good. Aside from being one of the five love languages, gifts selected with care help express your values and support businesses that are helping make the world a better place. Buying clean, non-toxic gifts for the beauty and skincare lovers in your life can also be soul-warming knowing your present is better for our planet’s health. Say goodbye to gift-related stress as we’ve scoured EWG Verified, Leaping Bunny, B Corp, Climate Pledge Friendly, and Carbon Neutral brands to find the best gifts for your friends and loved ones (and you!). Here are our top 13 favorite clean beauty and self-care gifts to give this holiday season:

HiBAR Shampoo and Conditioner Sample Bar Set

Hibar Shampoo and Conditioner BarsHiBAR’s all-natural shampoo and conditioner bars are made with all hair types in mind, and they cleanse and moisturize without all the wasteful packaging. HiBAR’s shampoo bars can last as long as one 16oz bottle, while the solid conditioner bar can last as long as two. HiBAR is Leaping Bunny Certified and Climate Pledge Friendly.

You can purchase the HiBAR Shampoo and Conditioner Sample Bar Set here

Honest Beauty Prime + Perfect Mask

Honest Beauty Prime + Perfect Mask with Superfruits & Shea ButterHonest Beauty’s antioxidant-rich, moisturizing mask utilizes black currant extract and ice wine to help make the skin appear firmer and more supple. It’s also formulated with vitamin E and superfruits to nourish and replenish. Honest Beauty is EWG Verified, Climate Pledge Friendly, and Cruelty-Free. 

You can purchase the Honest Beauty Prime + Perfect Mask here.

Versed Hydration Station Booster Facial Treatment

Versed Hydration Station Booster Facial TreatmentThis serum booster uses two types of hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin’s surface and the layers beneath it. It’s virtually weightless, which means it disappears into the skin within seconds. It can be used alone as a serum or mixed in with your other serums, gels, creams, and even face makeup to create a dewy look. Versed Skincare is EWG Verified, Climate Pledge Friendly, and Leaping Bunny Certified. 

You can purchase the Versed Hydration Station Booster Facial Treatment here

Greenzla Reusable Makeup Remover Pads Gift Pack

Greenzla Reusable Makeup WipesThe Greenzla Makeup Pads are designed to last for years, which means no more throwaway cotton balls, wipes, sponges, or paper towels in your beauty routine. The surface of the pads are made from ultra-soft natural bamboo and organic cotton material. This Climate Pledge Friendly and Zero-Waste package includes 20 reusable makeup remover pads, a storage container, and a laundry bag.

You can purchase the Greenzla Reusable Makeup Remover Pads Gift Pack here

Pipette Relaxing Body Lotion

Pipette Relaxing Body Lotion

If you know a new or expecting mom or someone that just loves clean, non-toxic lotion, Pipette’s Relaxing Body Lotion is the perfect gift. This softly aromatic moisturizing body lotion with plant-derived ingredients melts in instantly, adding long-lasting, weightless moisture to the skin. All Pipette’s products are EWG Verified, Climate Pledge Friendly, and Leaping Bunny Certified.

You can purchase the Pipette Relaxing Body Lotion here

Moon Valley Organics Rejuvenating Gift Set

Moon Valley Organics Gift Set

This Moon Valley Organics gift set includes one Rejuvenating Body Rub, a Lemon Vanilla Herbal Lotion Bar, and a Velvety Vanilla Beeswax Lip Balm; all are beautifully packaged in a 100% biodegradable pouch. Moon Valley Organics is a B Corp, Climate Pledge Friendly, Leaping Bunny Certified, and the brand devotes 10% of all its proceeds to help protect pollinators through direct action and contributions to non-profits.

You can purchase the Moon Valley Organics Rejuvenating Gift Set here

Biossance Squalane + Rose Vegan Lip Balm

Biossance’s Squalane + Rose Vegan Lip Balm is a new, reformulated lip balm with 10x more hydrating power and 50% more product in an easy-to-apply tube; plus, it never feels sticky. It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid and squalane to deliver a boost of hydration, along with ceramides to help maintain and prevent moisture loss. Biossance’s products are EWG Verified, Climate Pledge Friendly, and Leaping Bunny Certified. 

You can purchase the Biossance Squalane + Rose Vegan Lip Balm here

RYVE Daily Inspirational Flip Calendar

RYVE Daily Flip CalenderThe Climate Pledge Friendly RYVE Inspirational Flip Calendar is packed with daily inspirational quotes, positive affirmations, and self-reflection questions; it also acts as an empowerment book. Not only does this daily desk calendar come with bonus printable goal-setting templates, but for every calendar sold, RYVE will buy a meal for the hungry in the US.

You can purchase the RYVE Daily Inspirational Flip Calendar here

Soap & Glory Clarity Vitamin C Facial Wash 

Soap and Glory Facial WashThe Soap & Glory 3-in-1 Vitamin C Facial Wash formula goes beyond other makeup removers by utilizing biodegradable wax beads, powerful antioxidants, Vitamin C, and yuzu fruit extract to purify and leave the skin squeaky clean. This product is perfect for all skin types. Soap & Glory products are Climate Pledge Friendly and Leaping Bunny Certified. 

You can purchase the Soap & Glory Clarity Vitamin C Facial Wash here

HAN Skincare All Natural 3-in-1 Multistick for Cheeks, Lips, Eyes

Han Skincare BlushHan Skincare’s 3-in-1 Multistick is formulated with shea butter, argan oil, and Vitamin E for skin hydration, along with plant pigments and minerals to deliver a gorgeous color to the cheeks, lips, and eyes. The brand offers an array of shades for all skin tones. Han Skincare is Climate Pledge Friendly and Leaping Bunny Certified. 

You can purchase the HAN Skincare All Natural 3-in-1 Multistick for Cheeks, Lips, and Eyes here

Mineral Fusion Eye Shadow Trio

Mineral Fusion Eye Shadow

The Mineral Fusion Eye Shadow Trio offers a palette of richly pigmented, color-coordinated eyeshadows that can be mixed and matched to perfect any look. The brand’s shadows are formulated with a soothing mix of chamomile, meadowfoam, and vitamin E to help show the delicate skin around your eyes some love. You can also choose from an array of color pallets to match anyone’s aesthetic. Mineral Fusion products are EWG Verified, Climate Pledge Friendly, Leaping Bunny, and Carbon Neutral via CarbonFund

You can purchase the Mineral Fusion Eye Shadow Trio here

Find Your Own Magic Guided Self-Care Journal

Guided Self-Care Journal

Give the gift of journaling this holiday season with a self-discovery journaling experience that lasts the entire year. The Find Your Own Magic Guided Self-Care Journal includes a mental health workbook that uses scientifically proven techniques to relieve anxiety, boost motivation, and light that happy, creative spark inside all of us. It also offers daily affirmations, meditations, and drawing practices. 

You can purchase the Find Your Own Magic Guided Self-Care Journal here

Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil and Eye Cream Set

Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil and Eye CreamThe Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil and Eye Cream are EWG Verified, Leaping Bunny Certified, and Carbon Neutral. These powerful skin treatments fuse together clean plant nutrients rich in antioxidant, adaptogenic, rejuvenating, and moisturizing properties. Both Herban Wisdom® products feature the ultra-moisturizing ingredient squalane, which has been proven to help with inflammation, along with many other natural ingredients that can offer exceptional benefits. 

You can shop the Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil and Eye Cream here.

Final Takeaway

With holiday shopping lurching closer, it’s no secret that thinking of clean, non-toxic gifts can be difficult. With this holiday gifting list, we hope that we’ve given you a little bit of extra inspiration and a new way of looking at the quest for clean beauty and self-care presents. It always feels good to give back while you’re giving forward. Happy holidays from the Humanist Beauty family!

Men and Makeup

Not long ago, a man’s grooming regimen consisted of soap, shampoo, cologne, and shaving cream. Today, the men’s beauty market is a billion-dollar industry, estimated to grow to $18.92 billion by 2027. Men are now open to using a variety of products, including facial cleansers, exfoliants, serums, moisturizers, and most recently, cosmetics.1

The modern era has sashayed in broadening non-binary acceptance of products previously only advertised to women. Thanks to a focus on radical acceptance that breaks stereotypes and gender norms, men in makeup are now celebrated, not scorned. While cosmetics are becoming more commonly used by men beyond the stage and screen, an astonishingly long history of men wearing makeup is noted across ancient cultures around the globe.

Men’s Makeup Throughout History

The earliest records of men wearing makeup date as far back as 3000 BC in China and Japan. Men during this period used natural ingredients to create a sort of nail polish, which was a sign of status and wealth. Additionally, the earliest archaeological discovery of makeup tools used by men was found in China. It consisted of a “portable” makeup box with a bronze mirror, wooden comb, scraper, powder box, and small wooden comb.2

The “portable makeup” box and its components

Pictured: The “portable makeup” box and its components
Source: New Han Fu

Ancient Egypt

The striking cat eye makeup look is rooted in ancient Egypt. Men would rim their eyes in black to emulate cat patterns as a sign of wealth. They also wore pigments on their cheeks and lip stains made from red ochre.4 Makeup was an important way of showcasing masculinity and social rank.

Egyptian men and women wearing makeup

Pictured: Egyptian men and women wearing makeup
Source: Oasis Academy Temple

Ancient Korea

The Silla people believed that beautiful souls inhabited their beautiful bodies, so they embraced makeup and jewelry for both genders. Hwarang, which was an elite warrior group of male youth in Silla, wore makeup, jade rings, bracelets, necklaces, and other accessories. They used face powder and rouge for added pigment to their cheeks and lips.5

The guessed image of a Hwarang

Pictured: The guessed image of a Hwarang
Source: Glamour Flare

Elizabethan England

The Elizabethan Era heralded the look of flawless skin. Men wore powder all over their faces to whiten the skin as a sign of wealth, intelligence, and power. However, cosmetics during the period were highly dangerous due to the presence of lead in the majority of products. In many cases, these cosmetics led to premature death.6

Man donning the lead face powder

Pictured: Man donning the lead face powder
Source: Byrdie

The Victorian Era

From 4000 BC to the 18th century, men wore makeup every day for various purposes, traditions, and simple enjoyment. This changed when Queen Victoria associated makeup with the devil and declared it a horrible invention.3 Soon, makeup was perceived as feminine, thus vilifying its use by men, narrowing the depiction of masculinity.

Men’s Makeup in Modern Times

More recently, counterculture male personalities wore makeup as an act of rebellion. Rock stars, punks and goths would wear eyeliner, nail polish and other makeup for flair and self-expression. Today, male beauty influencers give tutorials on themselves rather than on female models. The negative stigma of men wearing makeup that was implanted during Queen Victoria’s reign seems to be dissipating. Men are now celebrated by progressives for wearing makeup and embracing the freedom to be and look how they desire.

The 1970s and 1980s

During these two decades, men’s makeup was hardly mainstream. Instead, it was reserved for rock ‘n’ rollers and stars who gained notoriety by bending social norms, such as Boy George, Prince, and David Bowie. However, many of the most well-known male makeup artists began their careers in the 70s and 80s. Way Bandy started to work in the beauty field in 1967, followed by Kevyn Aucoin in 1982, and a plethora of others soon followed.7

Boy George wearing makeup in the 1980s

Pictured: Boy George wearing makeup in the 1980s
Source: Like Totally 80s

The Early 2000s

The concept of “guyliner” hit mainstream in the early 2000s. Pete Wentz, lead singer of the rock group Fall Out Boy, and countless other men lined their eyes in black to achieve a smoldering, bad boy look. The trend was most popular with rock bands and their followers.

Beauty brands began to launch “metrosexual” products specifically targeted to the man who wanted to look sophisticated, well-groomed and polished. Yves Saint Laurent, for example, released the male version of its best-selling Touche Eclat concealer in 2008.8

Pete Wentz wearing “guyliner”

Pictured: Pete Wentz wearing “guyliner”
Source: Marie Claire

The 2010s and Today

A surge of social media allowed male beauty gurus to share their makeup and makeovers on a grand scale. Covergirl and Maybelline broke the mold by introducing star influencers James Charles and Manny Gutierrez, respectively, as spokespeople for their mass color cosmetic brands. This mainstreaming of cosmetic-clad male influencers has helped to dismantle gender-specific beauty stereotypes.

Today, we are seeing more gender-neutral ad campaigns from high profile beauty brands like Milk Makeup and Fenty Beauty. Additionally, skincare has become less stigmatized, and this acceptance is slowly seeping into cosmetics.

Male Celebrities with Impressive Beauty Tips

From Cleopatra to the Kardashians, we have long been intrigued with the beauty secrets of powerful women. The truth of the matter, though, is that today men also offer impressive makeup and skincare tips. Here are a few:

Peter and Harry Brant

Models Peter Brant and his late brother Harry Brant have amazing makeup tips. The brothers received the majority of their pointers from makeup artist Pat McGrath, and they even call her, “Mother Makeup.”9 In an interview, Harry mentioned, “Mother Makeup never uses any brushes because the heat of your fingers helps products go on smoother.”10 The brothers launched their own MAC Brant Brothers Collection in 2015, which also includes an eyeshadow palette with shades that can be used for all areas of the face.

Pictured: Brant Brothers
Source: Ok! News

John Stamos

Actor John Stamos has been named one of the most beautiful men in the world, but he claims the real winner is his skincare routine. He allows 1 day a week for his skin to breathe sans makeup. On Sundays, he stays away from makeup and uses his favorite facial mask, which is the Bioxidea Miracle 24 Face Mask for Men.

John Stamos in men’s face mask

Pictured: John Stamos in the Bioxidea Miracle Men’s Mask
Source: Instagram


The members of BTS are avid skincare enthusiasts. According to Jin, J-Hope, and Jungkook, K-beauty sheet masks and a well-thought-out skincare routine keep their skin glowing. The group notes that toner, face cream, and drinking lots of water are essential to a beautiful complexion. Additionally, J-Hope says that he tries to see a dermatologist whenever he has free time.

BTS is also known for its edgy makeup looks. Recently, the group collaborated with VT, which is a K-beauty makeup brand that is known to marry effective ingredients with innovative scientific technology. There are multiple products within the VT x BTS collections, such as makeup brushes, toothbrushes, lip balms, hand creams, eyeshadow palettes, and more. To grab a product or two from the collections, click here.

Pictured: BTS
Source: Style

Manny Gutierrez

Beauty blogger Manny Gutierrez, or more commonly known as Manny MUA, has an abundance of makeup tutorials online where he shares a multitude of tips and tricks. A few of his pointers include:

  • Always moisturize before applying foundation to combat dryness.
  • Use a dampened beauty blender to avoid cakey foundation.
  • After your foundation is applied, lightly dab your sponge over your face to pick up any excess product that may be leftover.
  • Spray your face with primer water for a little extra hydration.11

To check out more of Manny’s pointers and to watch his full tutorials, check out his Youtube channel.

Manny Gutierrez for Maybelline

Pictured: Manny Gutierrez for Maybelline
Source: Bored Panda

David Yi

The founder and editor-in-chief of Very Good Light, David Yi, recently wrote a book titled, Pretty Boys: Legendary Icons Who Redefined Beauty (and How to Glow Up, Too.) in which he explores self-care and wellness. He states that feeling beautiful transcends time, boundaries, and binaries.12

On his blog, Very Good Light, almost all of the posts provide skincare and makeup tricks. In one recent article, he offers tips for your best summer skin, which are:

  • Use an exfoliator to help reduce oiliness that tends to get worse during summer.
  • Find a foaming cleanser for your skin to help with oil control.
  • SPF always!
  • Avoid retinol in the summertime because of increased sun sensitivity.
  • Opt for lighter makeup, such as a tinted moisturizer.

Click here to view more of Very Good Light’s tips and tricks, and check out David’s skincare line, Good Light, that’s all about beauty beyond the binary.

Pictured: David Yi
Source: ONS

Are Men’s Beauty Needs Different From Women’s?

The belief that men’s skin is drastically different from women’s is what many believe to be the culprit behind the unspoken partitioning of the beauty cabinet. Structurally this is true, but Mumbai-based dermatologist Dr. Madhuri Agarwal believes that the skincare requirements for both genders aren’t all that different. According to studies, Dr. Madhuri Agarwal says, “Men’s skin is 20% thicker, 70% more oily, 40% more sweaty than women’s skin.”13

It has also been proven through research that male skin contains more collagen, thus it can retain a tighter, firmer appearance. The collagen content of male skin declines at a constant rate over time, while female skin declines faster later in life, especially after menopause. Thus,  female skin thins out more dramatically than male skin.14

Male and Female Skin Thickness Over Time

Source: Eucerin

Dr. Madhuri Agarwal also mentions, “Environmental exposure, stress levels, and testosterone can also cause a variance from women’s skin. However, the ingredients for treating skin problems will be the same, such as salicylic acid for acne. The only difference is men may require a higher percentage or higher frequency of product usage as compared to women.”15

4 Gender-Neutral Brands To Love

More brands are moving away from traditional norms for greater inclusivity, diversity, and representation. Celebrating people of different sexual orientations and gender identities is becoming more common within the beauty industry. Here are 4 gender-inclusive beauty brands worth noting:

  • Fluide: A vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free cosmetics brand built for all skin tones and gender expressions. Fluide also donates part of its sales to LGBTQ+ organizations.
  • Noto: Founded by a queer womxn, Noto is a gender-neutral, multi-use beauty brand that is committed to self expression and representation. Though it claims that its packaging is bio-degradable (ahem, it’s not), Noto’s dedication to equality and acceptance is exemplary.
  • TooD Beauty: TooD Beauty’s founder, Shari Siadat, created the brand to break beauty standards and celebrate everyone for who they are. The label’s clean products can be used anywhere on the face, hair, or body.
  • Byredo: Ben Gorham launched Byredo’s cosmetics line in 2020 after concluding that fragrances shouldn’t be classified based on gender, so cosmetics shouldn’t either. The brand released a range of makeup products claiming pigments for all skin tones.

Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil

Humanist Beauty believes that beauty products shouldn’t be gender-specific. Our Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil is for everyone, no matter what gender or race you are.

We created the Herban Wisdom™ Facial Oil to feel like a soothing sanctuary on skin. It can be applied to visibly repair, deeply nourish, and diminish signs of stress on your skin twice daily. As part of your holistic regimen, it can also be used on pulse points and other skin externalities to help aromatically calm and soothe your mind, body, and soul.

To grab your bottle, click here.

References: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5],her%20beauty%20and%20societal%20exploits. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13][15],has%20a%20tighter%2C%20firmer%20appearance. [14]