Many people see this trend as a positive liberating movement. “Both men and women reveal their real selves,” the Huffington Post explains.
Other people, however, think the trend may not be as big as it seems at first glance. “This no-makeup version suggests that taking meticulous care of your face is somehow more virtuous than using a bronzer or blush because it’s more authentic,” Jessica Teas explains in an article for The Cut.
Whichever side of the debate you are on, the data is clear. While the popular social media trend is encouraging women to embrace their natural beauty and post makeup-free selfies, new research from the University of Georgia suggests that the natural beauty movement is not freeing women from cosmetics. In fact, cosmetics sales have increased alongside the rise of the no-makeup movement.
The #NoMakeup paradox
Search Google for the “no makeup look” and you’ll find countless how-to guides, all of which involve using makeup to achieve the style.
“We always want to look dolled up, just a little more natural makeup compared to the glamor of the red carpet, that’s where makeup-free makeup comes in,” one popular Ipsy guide read.
Brands like Perricone MD and Glossier have even managed to capitalize on the trend.
“No-makeup makeup sounds like an oxymoron. But ask anyone in the beauty industry, which is valued at $ 445 billion, and they’ll tell you that a good chunk of those #nomakeup tagged photos online actually require multiple cosmetic products to get them. ‘looks so “natural,” says Leigh Beeson of the University of Georgia. .
Published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, a recent study from the University of Georgia examined the relationship between the rise of the #nomakeup movement on social media and cosmetics sales in the United States. The researchers found that the move was associated with an overall increase, rather than a decrease, in sales in the majority of cosmetic product categories.
Despite its name, the #nomakeup movement has been great for business. In recent years, consumers have spent higher levels of disposable income on cosmetics than in the past, says Statista.
In addition, although the global pandemic has put a damper on the market, Precedence Research claims that the size of the global cosmetics market was valued at $ 341.1 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $ 480.4 billion by 2030. with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1%. from 2021 to 2030.
How #NoMakeup affects women
“The movement claims to be focused on empowering women,” says Rosanna Smith, lead author of the study and assistant professor at the Terry College of Business. “But our research has shown that the no-makeup movement actually exacerbates a key tension that women often have to deal with: They are forced to look attractive or maintain a set of beauty standards. But they are also punished or ridiculed for making an effort to maintain these standards by wearing makeup. “
The researchers wondered if the no-makeup movement may have encouraged consumers to present their appearance as natural, when their appearance actually involved “artificial” enhancements like makeup.
They analyzed 784 selfies tagged with #nomakeup on Instagram and categorized them into two groups: “real natural beauty selfies” that actually appeared to be makeup-free and “built natural beauty” selfies where the person in the photo appeared. be made up.
They wanted to see which look is awarded the most by others: true natural beauty that is truly makeup-free or an appearance that has been enhanced with makeup in a way that feels natural.
The results suggest that people may be motivated to say that they are not wearing makeup when they actually are. According to Smith, “By doing this, they have the advantage of having an attractive appearance without the punishment that can come with others knowing that you are trying to get it.”
In addition, the results show that knowing that a woman is wearing makeup can lead the woman to be judged less positively. Smith says women are bound to look good but not the way they tried. This leads many women to hide their efforts.