Discussion: Little Things to Think About When Reading “The Best *insert whatever* for You” Type Articles

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Phew, that’s a long title! But, it’s all related to a thought I had earlier today when looking through Pinterest as I lounged in bed (yay for no classes today!). As I swiped my way through Pinterest looking at makeup looks I stumbled across a few pins for articles that tell you “how to pick the best shade of pink lipstick for you” or “picking the right shades of blush that suit you”. Now, these are well-written and very well articulated posts. They’re certainly informative and do what they say. But as I started reading them – especially the ones that categorise shades for skin tones, I started to think that while they are great posts, they’re a bit too prescriptive.

I noticed this with a post by the title I used as my first example. Picking the right shade of pink lipsticks. I know years back when I was 17 and first dabbling with makeup, these kinds of articles were go-tos since I felt lost in this massive world of cosmetics. These articles were great at allowing me to get started, and for anyone getting started with makeup, I definitely think they are a good place to start reading up on what might work for you. But now I’ve been experimenting for some time, I’ve had time to notice where these posts are really best only for people “starting out”.

For example, the shades of pink that are suggested to be best for pale skin tones – people like myself, are peachy pinks that are sheer, because it will cancel out any redness in my pale skin and the sheerness won’t overpower my pale skin tone. Okay, there might be some truth to that. But I’m pale and don’t always have redness to worry about – and some pale skinned people may not have redness at all. And yes, some pale skinned people will worry about redness. What I’m trying to say is that off the bat, articles can generalise too much when writing these kinds of posts. Not all pale skinned individuals – and the same goes for all skin tones – are the same.

From my experience though (and some people may share this experience too), peachy pinks do not look particularly flattering on me (or no where near as flattering as other colours). But I’m pale skinned. According to these articles, it should look amazing on me. Yet, on another pale skinned individual, the article is right, and it looks fantastic. In my experience, cool toned pinks tend to look great on me.

If we’re going to discuss factors, what about hair colour, eye colour and undertones? Again while very prescriptive factors, it still provides more variation and opportunities for discussion. For a long time I had a list of colours and shades and even products for reference saved on a note on my phone so when I went shopping, I knew I was on the right track. Oh, if I only I still had it – except I deleted it last week to try and clear space on my phone. Things like rich and bright colours (think medium reds, or emerald greens) for my dark hair and pale skin combination, something I personally agree with of course, you are welcome to disagree.

I want to take this further and talk about posts that discuss shades of anything for your skin tone. You know, the ones that will tell you the perfect shades of blush, lipstick colours of all colours, eyeshadow colours, etc. Now these are also a great post to read for anyone starting out, they really help give you somewhere to start with makeup, instead of jumping in the deep end, so to speak.

But the same problem arises that these posts can be too prescriptive: once again as someone with pale skin, I’m told to avoid dark colours because they will wash me out because I am so pale. Which okay, can potentially be true. But I also look good in dark plums, pinks and reds as well. I just know that some shades and undertones won’t flatter me as well as others – but I can still wear dark colours, despite what the article says. In fact, dark colours are a lot of fun to try out. If anything, I get a lot of compliments for wearing wine reds or plums, as well as “complimentary” colours like soft pinks.

Do you see what I mean?

I worry that being told “you shouldn’t do or wear this” will discourage people from experimenting or will take the fun out of it for people who already are. I stand by the fact that creating starting points for people are a great idea: I know I needed it, but at the same time, makeup can be a really fantastic form or artistic expression. Being told “no, this is wrong or looks bad” can really impact on a person’s self-esteem and ability to express themselves. If anything, word choice is critical. “I advise”, or “this looks particularly great on…” are far better ways of talking to people than “yes to this and no to that”. Not all articles use such strong terms, but they also don’t stress the idea of artistic and personal freedom.

From my experience, it is fun to try out different looks, colours and techniques. The way I wear makeup is about expressing myself and playing with artistic techniques, so I don’t always listen to the “dos and don’ts” that are listed in articles. Sometimes I like to experiment and see what works for me, even if it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else. While some may think “that’s wrong”, for me it’s just fun to try it out anyway.

I guess I’m just trying to say that I encourage the idea of everyone having the freedom to try out whatever they think will work for them. It is great to have a set of rules and techniques that are as close to “sure-fire tricks” that can’t go wrong, but why not try something new? Use colours you normally wouldn’t think would work, and even if they don’t, hey, it’s not the end of the world.

And if a colour makes you feel confident, like that head-turning orange lipstick, or that slightly bolder brow look, then why not go with it? Because wearing makeup that helps you feel confident is awesome, if you ask me. Like I’ve said before, these posts are useful, but there are limitations.

Thank you for taking the time to read what has become a very long post. What started as a simple thought in my sleepy/groggy head has somehow forced it’s way into a semi-articulated blog post. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this.

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