A Meditation on “Instagram Makeup”

I don’t know about you, but (surprise, surprise) my Instagram feed is one large makeup advertisement. I’m constantly inundated with updates on new launches, old favorites and collaborations from brands like Lancome, Benefit, ColourPop & Kiko Milano (just to name a select few). I wouldn’t have it any other way, but with every scroll it drives the point home that “Instagram makeup” is not something that I will personally strive to master.

So what does “Instagram makeup” signify to me? It signifies something that goes well beyond enhancement; it’s exaggeration of not just one or two features but of nearly every feature on the face from lips, eyes, lashes, cheeks, to brows. It signifies a drive for utter perfection – perfectly sharp winged liner, perfectly highlighted skin, perfectly shaped brows – that is simply not part of my personal beauty philosophy. While often “Instagram makeup” is created purely for photographic purposes, I still much prefer either a pared-down, everyday aesthetic or a slightly edgy, undone look even in photos. If you take a look at any of the ad images from Glossier, Milk Makeup, or RMS Beauty you’ll know what I mean. Or if you subscribe to the makeup philosophy of popular artists like Sam Chapman (@Pixiwoos) or Katie Jane Hughes (@katiejanehughes) you’ll know what I mean.

(Interesting to note that it’s mainly independent brands that shy away from more stereotypical “Instagram makeup”).

To be honest, I’ve gotten a bit weary of beauty gurus on both Instagram and YouTube using what seems like half a tube of Tarte’s famous Shape Tape Concealer, for example, under their eyes in one look. Or using several pumps of the fullest coverage foundation when there’s barely any imperfections to cover. Now I regularly use Shape Tape and I love it dearly, but that stuff is potent! I generally use two to three small dots under each eye, and even then I feel it can sometimes look thick and cakey.

I do want to be clear about two things here. Firstly, I’m not trying to denigrate “Instagram makeup.” It certainly takes a lot of skill, talent, and patience to achieve these looks, and there is a beauty in striving for perfection. These are just my thoughts and preferences. Beauty to me is driven by our desire to self-express and be creative; beauty is about creating an enhanced version of ourselves. This can take endless forms that range from “no makeup makeup” all the way to “Instagram makeup.” If you feel good in something, go with it. After all, this is the ethos behind the title of this very blog, We are glamerus. In whatever forms it takes.

Secondly, I’m not getting into the issue of retouched or airbrushed advertising images on Instagram in this post; that is a whole other subject. We know that all brands do it – from uber corporate to independent, smaller companies – in order to sell consumers on their brand of what is “perfect.” I’m just speaking to overall makeup philosophies in this post.

What are your thoughts on “Instagram makeup”?

Author: Erica

Hi! I’m Erica, a makeup enthusiast based outside of NYC. I discovered my love of cosmetics back in 2011 when I started watching simple tutorials on YouTube. It was a revelation to me that with just a simple few swipes of mascara or dabs of blush, you could transform into a more enhanced version of yourself. My obsession has not abated over the years, but instead has grown stronger as the beauty industry has gone from strength to strength. After graduating from business school in 2018, I decided to finally share my thoughts and opinions on all things cosmetics and this is where ‘We are glamerus’ was born. I share my musings on a bi-weekly basis on everything from my holy grail products and preferred application techniques, to the latest trends overtaking the beauty world. I hope you enjoy! xo

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