Tuesday 12 December 2017

Why do women wear make-up in the quest to look 'natural'?

Katherine Jenkins has been criticised for wearing too much make-up.
Katherine Jenkins has been criticised for wearing too much make-up.
Katherine Jenkins chills backstage at the Glastonbury Festival

Niamh Greene

It's the very quest to attain this so-called 'natural look' that sustains half the cosmetics' companies in the world.

I have a friend who used to wear make-up to bed so her boyfriend couldn't ever see her barefaced. She genuinely believed he would like her less without her beloved war paint.

I always presumed she was in a tiny minority thinking this way but, according to a new study, she wasn't alone. Research conducted by mattress manufacturer Ergoflex found that a quarter of the 1,500 women surveyed wore make-up when in bed with their other halves – and the majority of them lied about it.

Part of me can understand the impulse to want to look your best for the one you love. After all, in the first flush of romance, lots of us have set the alarm clock so we can tiptoe into the bathroom, do something with our bed-head nest of hair and then carefully reapply blush and lippy before lover boy wakes up.

In those early stages, you want your partner to think of you as a goddess who is flawless and blemish-free.

Few men know the secret machinations that it really takes to look this good.

It's the very quest to attain this so-called 'natural look' that sustains half the cosmetics' companies in the world – women want that Holy Grail glow, and if that requires applying three different kinds of foundation, false eyelashes and layer upon layer of nude lip balm then so be it. I'll happily admit that I rarely step outside the house without at least tinted moisturiser in case I should frighten the neighbours or small children, but behind closed doors it's a different matter. Most days, my poor hubby wakes up to the sight of me bleary-eyed, Sudocrem all over my mug, and I know he doesn't love me any less for it. At least I hope he doesn't.

Why should going barefaced in front of your partner fill you with dread? After all, you don't find most men tiptoeing to the bathroom to make themselves look pretty – at the beginning, middle or end of a relationship.

Nine times out of 10, they roll over, fart and then blast you with rancid morning breath because they're happy in their own skin. They ooze confidence about their bodies and they couldn't care less how they look – at least not at the crack of dawn. I firmly believe that we should all take a leaf out of their book and refuse to feel pressure to look perfect at all costs, regardless of the circumstances.

The vast majority of women feel this pressure and it's difficult to shake. It's why celebrities wear make-up to run marathons and why some women start a diet before they even leave the maternity hospital.

Sometimes it's just impossible to silence the toxic voice inside your head saying, 'You're not good enough just the way you are'.

I'm the last one to want to judge other women – so, if you feel better about yourself when you wear pan stick to bed, then go ahead and do it, I say. But if the only reason you're doing it is because you're afraid what your partner will say if he sees you without it, then I reckon you need to take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror. And him too.

And as for my friend? I'd love to say she finally realised the error of her ways and told her boyfriend that her 'natural' morning look was pretence all along and that he said he loved her regardless.

But the truth is that he woke before she did one morning and found that one of her false eyelashes had come unglued overnight and was lying adrift on the pillowcase.

Then he took a very unflattering photo while she slept on and posted it on Facebook for the entire world to see. Now that really was her wake-up call. She dumped him the very next day.

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