Monday, 6 February 2012

Goth make-up and the natural look

This is a post that I promised a long time ago and am finally getting around to writing! I have noticed from my time spent lurking on forums and one or two concerned e-mails and comments I receive that often a concern amongst younger Goths and those new to the scene is something along the lines of, "I'm not comfortable wearing heavy make-up, does this mean I can't be a 'real Goth'?"

Of course it doesn't! Whilst quite a few Goths (for example Jillian Venters, Lady Lovescraft and Sophistique Noir) wear make-up from day-to-day, you may notice that such make-up looks, though skilfully applied, are not always as dramatic as the everyday make-up of, say, Joji Grey or Adora BatBrat. I would expect that very few people have the inclination, time or skill to apply such beautifully elaborate make-up every single day, although I'm sure I'm not the only one who wishes I could.

Most of us who wear make-up have a fallback 'basic everyday' look, which, if I may generalise, often consists of black eyeliner, a dark eyeshadow, black mascara and probably a hint of eyebrow pencil (a lighter eyeshadow is also sometimes used for shading, to add interest), possibly with red, brown or purple lipstick for the ladies and black eyeliner for the gentlemen.

One of the useful things about heavy Goth make-up is that it can turn 'normal' features into striking dark beauty; heavy dark eye make-up, red lipstick and false eyelashes have that effect! Some of our favourite Goth models would be rendered almost unrecogniseable without their intense make-up looks.

Goth make-up tends to exaggerate and emphasise the features all at once, which can actually be quite daunting for the first-time wearer, because you may well look in the mirror and find you don't look like 'you' at all. This may be pleasing or unsettling depending on your mindset; the first time I wore really heavy make-up I was so unnerved I washed it all off again - now you won't catch me outdoors without a faceful.

Personally, after this experience I've been building up my 'tolerance' gradually; going from just eyeliner and mascara (when I was fifteen-sixteen) to dark shadow (and an unfortunate panda-eye phase around the seventeen-year mark), learning application skills as I go and plucking up the courage to wear heavier macquillage for clubbing and other events. Sometimes, however, it's refreshing to wear a lighter look and be able to recognise myself in shop windows!

However, there are some Goths who don't wear make-up at all (I know, shocking, isn't it...). Not everyone likes to wear make-up, for various reasons, and this doesn't mean that you are a 'poseur' or a 'fake Goth'. I spent most of my 'early Goth' years minus make-up, except concealer and mascara. You don't have to wear make-up or dye your hair to be a Goth! Sod the people who expect you to wear black lipstick and six inches of eyeliner at all times; we're not sheep, we don't all need to look the same.

What if you prefer to wear natural make-up, e.g. neutral eyeshadows, nude lipstick, and even *gasp* a bit of blush? Nope, this doesn't automatically make you a poseur either. The make-up associated with Lolita fashion is often subtle, understated and natural; it creates an elegant or girlish look, very suitable especially for Victorian and romantic styles. If your style is punkier or more casual, there's still nothing wrong with a soft natural look - it adds a hint of extra femininity to a punk-tinged or deathrock style and emphasises the low-maintenance attitude of a casual look too. (Here's an example of a fresh natural look that wouldn't look at all out of kilter with Goth style. And another...)

Kristina of steampunk band Abney Park.
So if you don't want to create yourself a starkly dramatic new face with false lashes and vampish lipstick, fear not - the natural look has its own place in the Goth scene, be it dolllike, ethereal, Victorian-maidenish or simply because you're a guy who has no interest in wearing eyeliner.


Lady Lovescraft said...

I used to do eyeliner doodles, big eyelashes, dark lipstick-the works- every day...but it got to a point where I ran out of inspiration (and eyeliner) so now I save it for special occasions and looks that call for it so I can really go all out :D

Katherine :) said...

Thank you :) I never really wear much makeup, just eyeliner, lipstick and mascara :P

Under_The_Stairs said...

I agree that it is not necessary to wear make-up every day.In fact,99% of the time I dont even bother.Though it is fun to apply it every once and a while.

Amaranth L Rayne said...

A much as I love heavy makeup styles, I look terrible wearing them. I usually like to have colourful eyeshadow with black eyeliner and naked lips, but I've discovered that I look best with smokey black eyes and bright rose red lipstick. I'm also starting to use mascara to colour my eyebrows, as I naturally have blonde eyebrows but dark brown hair.

Jessie Aaker said...

I really hate eyeliner doodles. No offense to those who do, it just never looked good from my personal perspective. And with how sensitive my skin is, unless I want my face to look like a bumpy pizza everyday, heavy make-up is a huge NO. So I'm glad to hear that others agree that 3 inches make-up shouldn't be considered a gothic requirement.

kakuidori said...

totally agree, some people have enough time, money and creativity and like to do heavy makeup everyday but its not a 'must do'.

i usually wear complete makeup but only because i like to play with it and have a baaaaad skin that i dont like without makeup at all XD whenever i compare my everyday makeup with others it still is kind of 'natural/medium' i think...

Chloris said...

Refreshing post idea Amy! I'm very relieved to hear that we don't need to be as elaborate as Adora Batbrat (god bless her) to have "real" goth makeup. I've never considered myself to be overly skilled at makeup application and I feel my features don't suit strong colouring. I think I'll set myself a challenge to find beautiful pictures of minimally-makeupped goths and pin them up as inspiration :)

Daniel_8964 said...

Just simply true, Amy. Putting make up on all the time to be 'goth' isn't a requirement and can be limiting and stressful. I have some days without makeup and nail polish, feels a bit more liberating at times and I preferably like my make up on most of time. I used to do it non stop wearing to places and even wore black lipstick at home, never publicly. I was uncomfortable showing it to my mum, it doesn't suit me and its not my thing, but I like how others pull it off well and I cared about my 'cred' seriously in the past. (2010 and early 2011 in my babybat years. I was trying too hard back then, I've developed over time like anyone else in the scene)

Jessica said...

Thanks Amy. I'm not really into make-ups and everything. So, I'll wear Lolita dresses in the future.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear! I don't wear any makeup, ever (and when I say I don't wear makeup, I don't mean it in the way people do when they say "I wear no makeup! Only eyeliner and mascara, sometimes" Because...eyeliner and mascara are still makeup? lol)

I have nothing against it on others, it's just too much trouble to me personally, I'd always have to watch that I didn't mess it up and I'd have to remove it every night. Ugh. I also have naturally dark hair and eyes and pale skin and I feel like makeup doesn't look very good on me, kind of like it's overcomplicating things that speak for themselves in the first place. If that makes sense lol

Nightwind said...

I use a natural hair dye. The way I see it, I'm fortunate to still have a good head of hair at this stage of the game, so I try to take care of it. While the coloring definitely turns my otherwise brown hair to black, it still looks natural.

It's probably a bit more work, as I have to re-dye every two or three weeks, but it's worth it to me.

Bane said...

Heavy or unnatural-looking makeup totally works for some people, but it is not a requirement of the goth aesthetic. The TV character Abby Scuito, for example, looks plenty goth with just a touch of eyeliner and darkish lipstick.

Eurofighter said...

I stick to more or less natural images even for stage performances. It's a way to stand out among goths ^___^

My jobs sometimes require traveling, a full goth makeup wouldn't be too comfortable while on a trip, so I developed a light version of it - still of a goth mood(and matched with everyday goth clothes of course: white BB cream (I like Missha of the 13th shade), some light grey eyeshadow along the upper lash line and just the beginning of the lower lash line; black mascara and Tony Moly cherry lip tint sealed with something that prevents drying of lips.

I got used to this plain yet not too bad look even for work in case I oversleep :))

Mostly Asian makeup things are used since they're not as "heavy" as the others and are often a blend of skin care and actually makeup. Another reason why I don't do heavily goth looks too often is that I literally feel makeup on my face and hate the feeling))))

Scyrith said...

Personally, I feel that makeup is unnecessary. Elvish characters in fantasy are often makeup-less or have very light makeup, and are some of the most beautiful and enchanting characters. I never wear makeup- that includes nail polish- and prefer to let gothiness be expressed simply through clothing (light on the accessories, even!), but that's just me.

Tenebris In Lux said...

Interesting article. I still don't really wear makeup -- no one really taught me how to, and I can be too damned lazy to buy some and learn how to use it. Or wake up early enough to apply it. It's usually a special day if I'm wearing mascara :-P

Tenebris In Lux said...

And also, while I am familiar with my face, I'm not really sure what would work for me. Since I dyed my hair black, my small and sharp facial features have really stood out (in a good way, I think).

All I can say is .. thank Gawd I'm no longer in the black lipstick phase! Gah. >_<

Kitty Lovett; The Unadulterated Cat said...

I love my makeup. I do wear the whole kit every day, it isn't neccessary, but it's how I get to work up the courage to face the Horror of the Daystar. I feel alone in the world. If I watch TV, and there's an infomercial on (I love infomercials. I get excited to see a new one), for example, *shudder* Sheercover, they always go, "I don't like wearing heavy makeup, so [insert product here] is perfect for me!" even though they're clearly wearing airbrushed liquid underneath (derp!).

I love BB cream, so even for a light look, I go Illamasqua primer, BB cream, powder, blush, eyebrows filled in and a bit of eyeliner and mascara. And lippy! I always wear lipstick. I can't not. I feel so strange without it! Shaun calls my collection The Unidentifiable Reds.

I do tend to go for a more natural eye look unless I just feel like liner and shadow - I usually use a tiny touch of black shadow just to add some depth, in any case. I have an Illamasqua liquid liner and pencil liner now too, and let me tell you, the liquid brush? Precision Ink indeed! It's so awesome. A bit hard to get off though. As of yet the only thing I've found is the Lush 'Ultra-Bland'.

/end large comment about makeup love!

Cherish said...

Great post, Amy!

Gave me some great ideas. In order to get myself (and my family) used to me wearing 'everyday' makeup, I think I'll start out with mascara and lip gloss.

Yay! :)

katysioux said...

I have an "everyday look" of foundation, eyeliner, mascara, and red lippy. I know what you mean about not feeling comfortable with makeup, I didn't wear any for a long time in my early teens because I didn't feel quite "myself" with it. One of the best things about being an older Goth is learning better makeup skills!

Anonymous said...

Makeup (or lack of) should complement ones clothing. If I am going to an event dressed in full corseted, trad goth regalia, then it is full on makeup, hair and jewelry. Conversely, if I am running errands or my daughter has a school event, and I'm in a t-shirt and track pants (typically in black), then I just throw on foundation (with SPF), mascara, my Korres lip butter (a must have!), and eyebrows (years of over tweezing). On the rare occasion clothes and makeup are somewhere in between.

By the way, I have an unhealthy addiction to cosmetics! I have an obscene amount of lipstick and an even more obscene amount of eyeshadow and eyeliner, so unless I am home alone, I am never without something on my face.

Maggie said...

I must say I quite like the "minimal" make up. I rely on good foundation, a hint of blusher and dark brown eye shadows. As for false lashes, I tried to apply them a couple of times and failed miserably. But then I'm one of those lucky people who have long, thick eyelashes and a touch of good mascara does the trick for me :) I admire people like Adora, who wear dramatic, elaborate make-up every day, but it's not for everyone.

Victoriomantic said...

Thank you so much for this article, it's very true. I personally very rarely wear makeup (and when I do it's only EVER eyeliner and mascara, I can't stand foundation). It's nice to know that someone else is of the opinion that Goths don't have to wear makeup.

For a long time I've struggled with insecurity of whether people on the street would realise the subculture I happily identify with, because I wear white a lot and no makeup. It's wonderful to know that other people can accept that it isn't just makeup that makes a Goth.

Also, I am a Victorian/Romantic Goth, which is why I have the username that I do. It was nice to see that you think little to no makeup does suit these styles.

Hexotica said...

I always think thank GOD not every goth does the heavy make-up thing or we would all look like each other! Variety is what makes a culture strong!

Babybatdanielle said...

I never used to wear make-up, until I turned 13, when I wore a tiny bit of mascara. After a while though, I went back to not wearing make-up at all (stupid reasons, really) and it was only until recently that I started wearing it again (not regularly though, sadly, due to school policy and such.....*sigh*).
I went back to it mainly because my step-mum and I had a bit of a discussion about how I didn't wear make-up and why. She was totally right by saying that make-up looks nice if you enhance your best features, as you said. I, however, was being more narrow-minded and thought that make-up in general made you look like you had something to hide (I'm not that narrow-minded about it anymore luckily!) and that people would think differently about me because I had the guts to face each day without make-up.
Sadly, however, it did not have the desired effect, and people at my school just assumed that I hadn't 'grown up' yet and worn make-up.
Now, however, I do wear make-up a bit more regularly, and I wear it to what suits me and what I like!

Sorry for going on for so long, I just thought you might be interested in this story.

Danielle xo :-)

Jessica said...

Here are more fine examples for natural looking goth.

The links below is Roger O'Donnell, the guy who plays the keyboard for The Cure. His outfits are quite nice. This gave me an idea that I don't need to put on make-ups neither wear sexy because Roger is very natural and modest. This is an excellent examples for the goths to dress very nicely and look natural.

This girl has a very beautiful hair and a beautiful dress too. This is a surly a gothic long hair.

lirit-arnauld said...

I like to keep it simple and don't wear heavy make- up. The most make up I do daily are my eyebrows (shadow and liner), with sunscreen and lip balm.

Caroline Carnivorous said...

I usually don't wear make-up for everyday, but when I bother, I wear:
- concealer
- PINK blush
- BRONZER (!!!)
- blue & black smokey eye
- drawn on eyebrows
- dark pink lipstick (varies)
That doesn't make me ''less a goth'' or anything, lolol.
I don't really see why this is an issue.

Essy Romaine said...

Yeah I'm one of those who doesn't wear make-up at all. I'm so thankful to you Amy and The Lady of the Manners for reminding me that just because I don't wear make-up doesn't mean I can't be goth.

Jo said...

Thank you so much for this post! I haven't worn makeup as much as I used to, and opt for a makeup free look most of the time. It's definitely realistic not to wear makeup everyday (it's actually pretty bad for the skin to constantly wear makeup!).

Loreia Lunatic said...

I love playing around with heavy make-up for special occassions or just for fun, but most of the time I just wear powder, eyeliner and mascara. I also love sleeping so there's no chance that I would get up 20 minutes earlier just in order to do my make-up on a normal working day.

But I have to admit it's kinda awkward when I walk around like that and other Goths somehow don't notice me being Goth too. Sometimes makes me feel a little lonely when hat happens.

InfiltratorN7 said...

I don’t like to wear make-up either. I went through a phase when I was younger of wearing make-up when going to goth nights but realised it wasn’t for me. I don’t like the feel of it and really don’t want to wear it on a day-to-day basis like when I’m at work. Nowadays at most I just wear nail polish. I find your story babybatdanielle sad in regards to that there are still people who define adulthood and maturity by what you wear, e.g. make-up (at my school this definition included dressing slutty, showing off lots of skin). No doubt those people will grow up to be the types who refer to goth as a ‘silly teen phase’ which you need to grow out of. :-/

Ria Rodd said...

Sincerelly, I find heavy make-up is something I am not a fan of when it comes to myself, at least not right now. But, I do look at it as something beautiful in its own way. I just think, "Wow. That person put an effort and, in his/her way, is just beautiful."
If the person wears it with cofidence, then I find it even more beatiful.

Make-up, the little I use, helps me feeling more cofident. And I assure you that you wouldn't find me out and about without at least a little bit of mascara and chapstick, and never, ever without black, dark pink or dark plum nailpolish. I look good without any of it, but it's something that lifts my spirits and think of myself with a more positive light. The same goes with clothing.
I am very thankful, being 16, to have parents that alow me to wear what I want as long as I don't do anything over the top. And, personally, I am not a fan of way over the top things when it comes to my appearance. I tend to go for a more softer and feminine look.

Personally, I stick to my skin color, being quite pale without any help (and, on this note, I must say: in my honest opinion, dark skinned Goths are just as beautiful as any pale skinned Goth), soft pinks and lavenders when it comes to eyeshadows, and just plain chapstick or a colorless lipgloss for my lips since they are already pink enough on their own. Black mascara and dark brown eyeliner is something that I would never go without and just a little every time. And I have foundation, but I normally just moistorize my skin and aply a little of powder that matches my skin tone just to get rid of some of the shimmer. (You would be surprise how a little bit of moistorizer makes a quite a difference.)
When I feel I need something a little more striking, I go for black eyeliner and darker eyeshadow, black, dark brown or a dark plum to bring out my dark green eyes, and dark red lipstick. On, and soft pale pink blush is something I like to use very much. I think if makes my face look a little more radiant, in a way.

Anyway, I agree. You don't need a full heavy make-up to be Goth.

In any case, I think you should use make-up if you feel comfortable with it. And personal choices are just that. Personal. You like a natural look? Go for it. Full make-up or none at all? Whatever floats your boat and makes you happy.

To wrap this up, I apologize for the lenght and if I made any grammar errors. English is my second language, and I love it, but I do make some mistypes. *blushes*

Warm regards,

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