205

I don't wear makeup. I have worn it 3 times in my life, and the last time was a really light amount for my wedding 10 years ago.

My reasons for not wearing makeup are varied and personal. The main reason is that I don't like the feeling of product on my face. But also it is expensive and I just can't be bothered to go through the process of putting the stuff on every day just to conform to societal norms.

Now, I get people (mostly acquaintances (co-workers, neighbours)) commenting on my lack of makeup. I usually don't mind explaining if they ask why I don't wear any and then the conversation goes on to other things.

But the problem comes when they try and convince me that I should be wearing makeup and that I would "look so much better" and "feel so much better about myself". They look for ways to negate my reasons ("there are natural products", "you don't need to wear that much", "why don't you just try it"). Some people offer to give me a makeover.

Now these comments really bother me. They imply that currently I don't feel good about myself, and that I need to look better. I don't base my self worth on how I look, and I don't want my daughter to either. I don't want her to hear these comments. Now I know I'm not the most beautiful woman out there, but I'm accepted by my husband and family and friends and they don't care about my makeup policy.

How do I bring the conversation to an end quickly when people start trying to convince me to wear makeup? I don't want their opinion, I don't want to justify myself, I just want my decision to be respected. I don't even care about changing their own views, I'm not going to rant to them about how makeup is superficial. I just want to be left alone.

Just to be clear, I don't want my daughter to base her self worth on how she looks. She is absolutely welcome to wear makeup if she chooses to. I am not going to force her not to. In my opinion, those two things are completely unrelated.

Naturally I take care of myself still. No makeup doesn't imply no hygiene. I still have good personal hygiene. My culture is Afrikaner (South Africa), which is similar to the general "Western" culture as it relates to makeup.

  • 3
    Hey, folks, please confine comments to requesting clarifications and suggesting improvements to the question. Answers should be posted as answers, and side discussions aren't really appropriate. – HDE 226868 Apr 9 '18 at 14:47
  • Are the people who you hear this from male or female? – kasperd Apr 14 '18 at 19:11
  • 2
    @kasperd both men and women have commented on my lack of makeup, but only women so far have tried to convince me to wear it. – user6818 Apr 14 '18 at 20:02
  • Where on earth is this happening? What country? – RedSonja Nov 12 '18 at 12:35

19 Answers 19

176

As a fellow woman who does not wear makeup, I feel your pain.

Usually my mother is the one nagging at me, and I've found that it's most effective to say something along the lines of:

"I appreciate you trying to be of help, but I've already went X years (I usually just state my age) feeling great about myself without makeup, so I won't be starting now."

What you're essentially telling these folks (who likely truly believe that makeup is going to make you a happier person, based on their own experiences) is:

"I value your opinion, but I don't share it so no thanks."

If they still try to push you after you've kindly expressed your disinterest, reiterate more concisely:

"I'm not going to start wearing makeup, so can we move on to a different subject?"

The point is to first try to turn them down with kindness, as most people will take the hint without needing to be rude towards, but do get more firm if they continue trying to speak about it.

71

To add to the list of suggested rebuttals:

I have carefully considered the matter, and decided against it.

No justifications, excuses, or reasons. You have already resolved the issue to your satisfaction, and the person you are addressing has nothing new to add that might cause you to reopen the discussion. Details will just encourage them to poke at the exact wording while ignoring the bigger picture.

If they do continue to press the issue, add

I consider the matter settled and will not discuss it further.

If that doesn't dissuade them, they've moved into full rudeness and a more brusque response is called for.

Frankly, my personal choices are not your business, any more more than they were the business of the last dozen people who pestered me about them. Have a nice day!

45

I don't wear makeup as well and I've been through the process of people trying to persuade me about wearing it.

The reasons people tell you to wear make-up are really offensive, actually: they imply that you're not good-looking enough or that you're not comfortable with your look. They're clearly stepping a boundary and they need to know they have to step back. This gives room for answers ranging from "quiet" to some that could be perceived as passive-aggressive.

If it's a person that you won't likely see in a good while, an evergreen rebuttal is "Maybe next time, thanks". You're not going against their beliefs nor yours, it's not a yes and not a no either. It can work wonder.

Otherwise (ranging from least to most passive-aggressive):

-You would look so much better!

  • No, thanks, I already feel beautiful.
  • Why, don't you think I'm beautiful already?
  • Oh, it's better if I don't do it then, I don't want to damage the self-esteem of people around me. / I couldn't deal with the extra attention [credits to Wes Toleman]

Otherwise, I assume they are talking about themselves and I counteract with other questions:

-You'd feel so much better!

  • Nah, I'm OK, thanks.
  • Why would I feel better with powder on my face?
  • So I get you don't feel good without make-up? This is awful, my dear. Why don't you feel good with how you naturally look?

Also, when people ask me about the reasons why I don't wear makeup and I don't want to start a deep discussion, I give them silly answers - for instance, that it's because I like to sleep: I prefer spending five more minutes in bed than in the bathroom.

  • 26
    Most of these responses seem more passive-aggressive than humorous. It may still be a valid way of getting them to stop talking about it, but it would probably be helpful to cover why this is necessary/worth it/best. – Jesse Apr 3 '18 at 5:23
  • 8
    If you wanted to go for humorous you could say that make-up would make you too beautiful and you couldn't possibly deal with all the extra attention. – Wes Toleman Apr 3 '18 at 14:52
  • 11
    @Jesse Most of these responses, I presume, require tone of voice/attitude/"You had to be there" type settings... but even if these "jokes" are passive aggressive - whats wrong with being passive aggressive against someone who is basically passive-aggressively saying you don't look good enough to be out in public? I'm male and balding... I'd give the same basic attitude to anyone who thinks I need to "correct" my looks (IE: Rogaine, plugs, etc) - passive aggressive and increasingly so if the comments continue. – WernerCD Apr 3 '18 at 17:51
  • @WernerCD an answer involving passive-aggressive responses should explain why they are a good solution. Currently, this answer does not even acknowledge it. – Jesse Apr 3 '18 at 23:53
21

If you feel like it won't offend the people you're saying this to, you can have a bit of fun by turning around their advice like so:

Why don't you try going without makeup sometime? I think that would make you a lot prettier and improve your self-worth.

Essentially you're using the same exact reasoning but for not using makeup.

Or, to make fun of their attempt at an "unsolicited sales pitch":

Hmm, what are you trying to sell me? Oh, sorry, I'm not interested. I already have everything I need.

Or…

I'm glad my perfected makeup skills made you think I'm not actually wearing any!

Maybe this lighthearted approach will let you have a bit of fun and subvert the discussion topic in a harmless way.

15

Note: This is about co-workers and a work context, not neighbors or personal friends.

In certain industries and contexts, wearing make up is expected for a female professional, as is (e.g.) not wearing a beard or only a heavily groomed one for a male. Only you yourself know if this is the case here, but your colleagues might just try to help you not to break etiquette.

... I just can't be bothered to go through the process of putting the stuff on every day just to conform to societal norms.

You can consciously break societal norms, but not everyone will look upon this favorably. People without an in-depth knowledge of your reasoning behind breaking the norms probably consider their advice helping you.

Therefore, the right approach to this seems to be an honest declaration that you are aware of your non-conformance, but that you rather break the norms than go through the process 'of putting the stuff on every day'.

Explicitly mentioning the non-conformance and your reasons for it will deflate most arguments before they are even voiced and makes it clear that you thought about this beforehand, but decided to go the way you chose anyway.

  • 3
    Just saying: In the UK, Price-Waterhouse-Cooper got their ass handed to them in a very public and embarrassing way when they insisted that women had to wear high heels and fired an intern who refused to do this. I'd expect the same to happen with makeup. – gnasher729 Apr 8 '18 at 18:48
  • 2
    @gnasher729 Even if some people can change the culture and societal norms in these contexts, it might take a long time until such a change is generally accepted. All the while you will have some people looking disfavourably upon the non-conformers, which will cause other people trying to 'help' by suggesting conformance. – Wilbert Apr 9 '18 at 6:49
12

Ultimately, the issue is that, underlying the minds of those making these types of rude statements, this actually isn't about you. It's about their perception of either social norms, or something related to them trying to assert their dominance and either put you down publicly or force you to conform.

As someone who varies how much makeup she wears (and who also still sometimes gets some interesting life "choices" questions about things like her sexuality, which builds up a certain degree of related conversational practice), and feels it's entirely a personal choice and more power to anyone who doesn't care to wear any, I have a range of responses depending on how I feel about the way someone is commenting, but the key is that they all focus on one thing:

Start from a platform of having nothing you need to justify to anyone else in this, and NEVER lose sight of that.

This is often easier said than done, especially for anyone who is generally polite and cares about how others feel and think in the empathetic sense, and themselves likes to understand people and the world around them. Because it's easy to want to try imparting that understanding of your own choices and actions to others. Which would be fine if that were the most important thing here, but it's sadly generally not once someone has asked a question like this to begin with, no matter how "innocently" it were couched.

Someone who actually had you or your feelings in mind would never have asked a question like this in the first place, and certainly would not have done so without providing clear cues that they were actually approving of your choices first and foremost, and simply curious about them as a fairly close friend or similar level of very close acquaintance. (e.g. at least something like "I wish I was comfortable just going without makeup, it must be nice?")

The problem is that as soon as you start approaching this as something you can or should justify, it turns into a debate. This isn't a debate. This is your choice, about your body, and your life. So the key is making sure that you're responding with statements which simply aren't open to debate, and if things still can't be headed off, possibly going so far as calling out the purpose or nature of the questions used rather than your own choice in not wearing makeup. That last is going to depend a lot on the social situation and how you feel about the person asking, and whether it's worth really slamming that door in their face.

One way is to make statements that place it firmly in the realm of your feelings, and only in positive senses:

"I feel better without it."

But…

"No, I feel better without it."

Why?

"Because I feel better without it. [and at this point follow immediately with a blatant change of topic to the weather, work, or whatever]"

This immediately shuts down anything else, because those are your feelings, and you're not wavering with expressing your perspective in that framing. You're not giving "reasons" (which can easily be taken instead as "excuses" from the other person's perspective), you're not rationalizing, you're simply and directly stating how you feel. Any response other than "Oh." (including a repeated "Why?") can certainly be met with an "Excuse me?" or something of a similar nature, because no one else gets to tell you how you feel, or imply that your own experienced feelings are not legitimate as actually being your feelings.

Anyone who tries to dissuade you at this point is being openly and overtly rude, and short of a social situation that requires more finesse, I'd generally say feel free to tell them so either directly and literally, or somewhat less directly but still quite obviously, such as "Well it's nice that you feel that way" and hopefully moving on at that point, in one way or another.

If met with things such as that "well have you tried…" then the response, if you want to even give it, is quite simply repeating "I feel better without makeup." No clarifications, no attempts at engaging the point they are trying to make. Disengage with a solid platform of your own positive feelings for your choice, without any rationalizations or explanations, change the topic, and let it drop.

If they still can't take either a hint or clear direction about it, I'd personally feel free to interpret it as intentional and move on to making it about them if you aren't ready to just walk away (which is the smarter choice if you don't want to most likely burn bridges at this point), because let's be honest: that's what this was really about from the start.

Honestly I personally would not feel that being mildly passive aggressive in response to someone commenting on your makeup or "lack" thereof, of all things, is entirely wrong, especially if it's gone past the point of you stating your feelings and holding that ground: it's incredibly passive if not overtly aggressive to negatively comment on someone's appearance in that way in the first place, and it's definitely worse to not drop it after getting a response.

One approach is to flip the tables: for every time they ask a question about you, don't answer it directly and instead ask them why they would say that, and whether they're trying to be critical of how you look. Focus the conversation back on them, entirely. If they reply with no, feel free to jump back to asking why they would do that then. Also feel free to inject it with an air of incredulity that they would be so rude as to continue to do so.

Another is to even more openly ask them whether they've thought about how this is supposed to make you feel, and what their point really is. Generally if things have progressed this far, I ask how they would feel if someone started commenting negatively about their makeup… "choices." I also try to avoid letting things go this far. It's meant to be an exercise in building empathy and focusing on the flow of the interaction and how it makes someone feel rather than your personal choice, but I find frequently that the exercise is lost on most people who wouldn't back off sooner.

Finally, if someone really won't let it go, there's leaving a cutting response and then walking away. @LinuxBlanket's answer could easily have some repercussions, but if you're past the point of wanting to be amicable because someone can't take "no" for an answer and continues to be rude after the first attempt to shut them down, it's not entirely inappropriate either at a point like this, but I try to avoid doing it unless I'm really sure that's how I want to present myself in this situation. Being rude in response to someone else being rude easily turns into a situation where now you're the one accused of being rude. Sometimes it's also the only way to get someone who keeps offering "friendly" advice that isn't friendly at all to leave you alone, but it's worth being sure you want that type of outcome before really pushing back like that.

  • "Because I feel better without it." could be replaced by "Because that is the truth", and if the other party is so obnoxious as to continue offense, next up is "Are you trying to force me to lie now?"... – user21820 Apr 9 '18 at 10:54
  • The reason I couched it in terms of one's own feelings is that it avoids an argument over it where both sides feel separately valid from their own perspectives. Your feelings are your own, and anyone who says you must feel differently than you are saying you do feel is engaging in a form of gaslighting. – taswyn Apr 9 '18 at 20:43
  • Exactly my point; I think the second response should be stronger. After you have already said "I feel better without it." once, the other party should not attempt to dispute that, and if they do then it's reasonable to continue with "Because that is the truth". – user21820 Apr 10 '18 at 7:07
10

In my country, it's quite common for women to go out without makeup unless there's a party,wedding or some special occasion. In spite of that,I always have people questioning me why I don't wear makeup.That's because I have oily skin with acne/scars and people keep wondering why I don't cover them up.Even strangers approach me with suggestions on skincare regime and makeup.

Initially,I used to tell people that I don't like wearing makeup but that requires answering lot of spin off questions.And no matter how nicely I phrase it,some folks would continue to pester me with their suggestions.So what I do now is to tell them that I'm allergic to makeup (including popular brands).Even then, someone will suggest some organic brand that I can try and I am like sure,I'll check it out and they stop at that.

So to answer your question "How do I bring the conversation to an end quickly", you can try an approach similar to mine and see if it works.

10

We've got some good answers, but there's one nuance that I feel is missing (and is too long for a comment).

Your feelings towards makeup are your own opinion, and you have every right to feel the way you do. These people aren't respecting that, so you need to directly address that problem if you want them to stop with the least amount of conflict. Here are some examples:

"Why don't you wear makeup?"

"I don't like it."

"But it would make you feel/look better!"

"I'm perfectly happy without it."

"Let me just give you a makeover once and you'll see!"

"I'm not even slightly interested, and I wish you would just respect that and move on." (This should be the furthest it goes, it would take someone really dense to keep up the siege. But if they do...)

[any further prodding]

"Look, I've told you several times now that I'm not interested. You are [really getting on my nerves/being extremely rude/taking this way too far/etc], so just drop it."

At that point you have laid out the facts, pointed out their rude behavior (without being toxic), and given a hard-stop condition. If for whatever reason they still won't let it go, terminate the conversation and leave them. You will have your dignity intact, and they will look (and probably feel) foolish for not respecting a simple opinion. Unless they are a very toxic individual, they will almost certainly never bring it up again.

But really, anyone reasonable would stop way before that point, so if they can't, you might reconsider your relationship with them.

7

I'm a man and, like the other man who's answered, I would go for a direct approach ... but that may not site well for you:

"Why don't you wear makeup?" - Because I don't like it.

Nice and simple. Straightforward and not aggressive (well, that depends on how you say it!). And, please note that this is not intended to be rude, but to be an authentic answer (i.e. not covering up your actual thoughts & feelings) to a question. If your answer lands with the questioner as freely given, not hiding anything, not attempting any misdirection, not implying any criticism of the question/questioner, etc., then often it will be sufficient for the questioner to be comfortable with your answer. When communicated this way, it can sometimes open the door for the questioner to consider whether they'd like to take on the same point of view ("oh, yes, it's ok not to like wearing the stuff!").

All the spin-off questions (why don't you like it? You'd feel better... you'd look better... ) have already been answered by others.

6

One thing that is important to consider is the following: make-up making someone look better is a subjective truth (true or not depending on who you ask). It is true for the person telling you, it is true for 'the norm', but not to you. That it is not true for you, does not make it untrue for them, and it makes neither the objective truth.

I'll compare it to yoghurt with strawberries. Maybe you love putting strawberries in your yoghurt. You think they improve the yoghurt. I don't have to agree with that, though. Maybe I don't like strawberries. Or maybe I love yoghurt on its own. Any reason why you don't want strawberries in your yoghurt is a good one, right? It's your yoghurt after all. I can't tell you how you should like it and you can't tell me how I should like it. It is the same for make-up.

Don't try to argue subjective truths. The people you mention will not respect your truth. If they did, they wouldn't have mentioned it in the first place. Do realize that they probably want to help you. They see you eating youghurt without strawberries and would like to let you know how awesome they are. Mention it in a way they can't dismiss it as being subjective and set boundaries.

I currently do not want to invest time and money in learning how to apply make-up

Should they continue to press the matter, follow up with a firm statement.

I already said no. I prefer spending my time and money on things I find more enjoyable.

or one of the phrases from Jess K's answer.

6

Male here, for what it's worth. I don't wear makeup, but like everyone here I interact with humans who often don't think before they speak - myself included.

Joking aside, as I was reading your question of the comments people make when they try to convince you to wear makeup is how rude it is to make those implications.

Why would you say something so rude to me?

Sincerely ask, what gives? No need to smile and cheerfully feign how delighted you are about having this conversation for the 402842835 time. By asking and not telling them "you're being rude", you put the onus on them to think about what they've just said, and justify it after you've made it clear they've said something offensive to you, and defend themselves.

5

It may be beneficial to flip the power dynamic. It's a vulnerable moment being told that having a natural look is not up to societal norms. Here on SE we know you're confident about not wearing make up so maybe we can put this issue back into your hands.

In addition to your original comments to people, you could follow up with:

If I ever change my mind and become interested in the crazy world of make up, you'll be the first person I ask.

This technique is saying "I'm acknowledging your desire to give me make up advice but I'll take it on my terms". Before, people feel as though they can provide unsolicited advice but you take that power back by taking an active role.

When they persist, this is still a valid excuse or statement to make. The ball is in your court to ask for make up advice and we know you have no intention of changing your mind.

3

The answer is based on central europe culture and for groups where a certain level of sarcasm is acceptable.

So you think I look that awful I need to mask it or wear a paperbag on my face?

This ridiculously offensive answer clearly explains how offensive message they delivered to you right now.

I feel great without it and Bob likes it as well. He is the one I care about the most, but thanks for asking.

People usually adjust their appearance to impress target person(s) and/or display their mood or (political) opinion - If you clearly state who is your target group and what is their opinion about your appearance your wise advisors shall shut up.

Do I comment on your appearance? No? I would appreciate you don't do it either.

This clearly shows your attitude toward such comments and advices. Works only if you seldom or never comment on their appearance.

2

Another approach:

When you get these rude questions, answer with "Oh, I save makeup for special fancy-dress occasions."

(You don't need to tell people that these occasions are only every decade or two.)

While it won't stop all the intrusive conversations, it cuts off a lot of the lines of aggressive approach:

  • You know you look "nicer" with makeup, that's why it's part of getting dressed up fancy.
  • You already know what brands and styles of makeup suit you, so you don't need any advice on specifics.
  • You are not making any moral judgement on makeup, it has its place in your life.

(It doesn't matter if these things are true, you just want to escape the conversation with dignity.)

2

I think the best thing to do in this situation is to switch to a different topic.

Usually, when people comment on the way you live your life they don't really want to listen to your reasons and they just want you to accept their point of view. No matter what reason you give they will just find something else to counter your argument. So just smile and switch to a different topic. You don't need a reply. Just smile in a way that implies "Maybe you don't like it, maybe this is my imperfection but this is just the way who I am and I love it".


As for your daughter, You could talk about it how looks do not matter.

There are lot of examples in daily life, celebrities, people who are beautiful but are not liked by people because they have a bad character.

And when you talk about it a lot of times to your daughter it sort of gets installed in her mind. It works easily if your daughter is younger than 13. That is how my mother used to convince me about what is right and what is wrong. Because when you tell your child to do something, all children will have the tendency to try the reverse of it. But when we get to see the consequences of it and see that it is wrong we don't do it. This is just a general tip.

1

Just recite the core reasons that you gave us, in a clear and concise manner (so that you spend as little of your time as absolutely necessary to bring the point across).

(Now, this is in general the most effective way to refute opponent's arguments as per the Graham's pyramid.)

E.g. something along the lines of: "Look, when you're suggesting this, you're silently assuming two things: that currently I don't feel good about myself, and that I need to look better... for whatever reason, you didn't care to explain. Now, I'll have you know: neither of this is true. So none of your arguments has any merit whatsoever. Now, let's drop this talk once and for all 'cuz I'm not happy having to explain this each time someone else doesn't get the idea."

If you use the last phrase or similar (to shove them off by expressing your sincere annoyment), it's important to clearly state a valid, objective reason -- this way, they can't nag you further implying a psychological issue or whatever without it clearly looking like a harassment (which will hopefully deter them since harassment is a legal offense and all).

1

I assume that most of the people that try to convince you to change are women and wear makeup themselves. When convince attempts becomes annoying you can try to turn it around and ask them to change correspondingly:

You: "I do not feel the need to wear makeup"
Other person: "Oh, but you should, it will make you look so much better"
You: "No, ..."
Other person: "But, ..."
You: "So you are asking me to change my behaviour to match yours. But let me ask you to change your behaviour to match mine. Try to go one week without wearing any makeup."

Ask them to search on the internet for the phrase "one week without makeup" or similar and read all the success stories.

If they refuse then point out that they are in fact asking you to do a significant change but are not willing to do the same thing themselves.

  • The OP specifically says that she's not interested in getting them to change their makeup preferences, only in getting them to stop commenting on hers. – Catija Apr 8 '18 at 14:21
  • But this request for them to try to not wear makeup is not an attempt to convince them that they should stop wearing it permanently. I assume that people that try very hard to convince others to use makeup will have severe difficulties in letting go of using makeup themselves, probably not willing to try even if just for one week. Exposing that fact - "you are not willing to change yourself, so why are you so set on trying to change others?" is a means to bring the conversation to an end quickly (assuming people do not want to elaborate onto why they operate with double standards). – hlovdal Apr 8 '18 at 16:50
0

Answer from a male perspective:

I always ask my wife that if she decides to put makeup - make sure it's a touch of makeup and never too much. Honestly, sometimes I see other female with significant amount of makeup (layers or whatever you call it) and they look very good! however, if you remove their make up, they look completely different (example on youtube: makeup before and after). So the make up is an issue of taste and I understand why you would prefer not to use makeup.

Now back to your question and just to give a different angle and answer the title question without repeating what was said already (after all it was posted 6 months ago). If you don't want to go into the convincing you mode - you can always go along the lines of:

You know, I have some sort of allergies to most makeup and the one I rarely use is usually very expensive and I tend to use them in special occasion if any.

Point is: No one will argue with you about allergies.

One can argue that this is a white-lie but the idea here is to avoid the 'they try to convince me part' read more about makeup-allergies so you can have a great story.

0

I am a female who seldom applies makeup.

I am from India. Here "talking back" on such suggestions is considered very rude and is a way to gain bad reputation.

I, therefore, prefer to tell them my true thinking rather than telling them to "mind their own business":

I know I will look much better with makeup, but the problem is that I like my raw looks very much. I like imperfection. I want the people to see real me.

No one utters a word after this!

  • 3
    Hi there! This may be a good advice but could you please expand on why you think doing this would help OP? – avazula Nov 13 '18 at 15:06