If you’ve tried searching for advice on how to make yourself attractive, you’ve probably noticed a common theme: it’s useless. Here’s why:
Beauty gurus provide entertainment through variety, not perfection.
There are a few reasons why most beauty bloggers have a “quantity over quality” content strategy.
First, most beauty bloggers are addicted to makeup. They’ll always love testing out new products, even if their old ones are perfectly good. It’s good for business too: they can make money by doing paid reviews, selling products through affiliate links, and racking up views on their channels from all their makeup-obsessed fans.
Second, beauty bloggers generally act as their own models. Instead of showing the perfect looks for various people, they have to show a variety of looks for one person: themselves. Unfortunately, out of the various “interesting” makeup looks, almost none will actually make you more attractive.
Consider the following examples from three of the most popular beauty gurus on YouTube, Carli Bybel, Tanya Burr, and Lisa Eldridge.
I hope it’s obvious enough to you that the looks in the right-hand column are much better than those on the left. So why do the looks on the left even exist? Because if these ladies only made videos on how to do soft, flattering makeup, they’d run out of things to discuss.
Now, I’m sure some people would look good in the makeup from the left-hand column. Maybe these beauty gurus know it’s not ideal on their own faces, but just wanted to demonstrate the techniques for people who can pull it off. The problem is that there’s no guidance on how to know whether you’re one of those people.
Assuming you want to look more attractive (as opposed to just looking like you love makeup), are you supposed to resort to trial-and-error? Currently it would seem the answer is yes — but that’s something I hope to change through this blog.
Magazines exist to sell you products.
That’s how publishers make money — not from subscriptions (they’d give magazines away for free if they could still get people to read them) but from the companies who pay to place advertisements on every other page.
And the advertisements are never completely separate from the content. Have you noticed how magazines will carry one brand’s ad, then feature another product from that brand (sometimes the exact same one!) in the “beauty editor’s picks” section? Quelle coïncidence. Not.
Remember, few beauty editors are downright liars — but none of them are paragons of journalistic integrity.
I once attended a “Confessions of a Beauty Editor” event at a department store (not that I was invited to the event, but I happened to be browsing the nearby clothing racks and managed to overhear most of it). The editor explained how brands get their products mentioned in magazines. Hint: it’s mainly through networks of relationships, mutual favours, and not-quite-bribes.
One example was a gift given by a brand’s marketing team to someone she knew in the beauty editing industry: a bottle of chilled Dom Perignon packed with ice in a silver Tiffany & Co. champagne bucket. Who do you think raved about the product in her next column?
Just because you read about some miracle product in a magazine, doesn’t mean it’s going to make you more attractive.
Makeup artists create makeup looks, not beautiful faces.
Makeup artists call themselves “artists” for a reason: most of them treat makeup application as an art form. When it comes to art, creativity, innovation, and self-expression are more important than mere beauty (as exemplified by the cover of this book).
Perhaps you share this manifesto:
If that’s the case, keep doing you. But you won’t find editorial looks like these (cool as they are) on this blog.
Why not? Because SoA (SoA being the abbreviated name of this website, obviously) is about making people see you as an attractive human, not a painted sculpture.
Beauty books are a mixed bag.
So many books pretend to be about beauty when they’re really about makeup. These books are great for learning how to apply makeup, getting inspiration, or following the lives of your favourite celebrity makeup artists. But do they help you become more beautiful? 99% of the time, the answer is no.
For example, Makeup Your Mind by Francois Nars shows you how to use up an entire pan of eyeshadow at once:
The Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual includes these gems of wisdom, in case you don’t remember them from kindergarten:
(Am I the only one who finds it super annoying when you’re looking for beauty advice and get sermons about “inner beauty”? We all know that appearance is distinct from character, so let’s treat them that way, instead of pretending that nurturing your inner goodness will make you more physically beautiful… To be discussed in a future post.)
Makeup books contain tons of advice on stuff to buy.
Thanks, but how am I supposed to know which tools I really need? And spare me the sermons about how often you should clean your brushes and throw out old makeup. Hello, I don’t want to become a makeup artist or open a beauty salon, I just want to look good.
If you really want to get a book on makeup though, I highly recommend the ones by the late, great, Kevyn Aucoin. He sounds like a lovely person from his writing, there’s a great diversity of models, and you might pick up a few useful tips.
Another helpful resource is The Original Beauty Bible by Paula Begoun. She always offers rational, no-nonsense advice.
My one issue with this book, though, is its focus on how to remove flaws rather than how to add beauty. She details all the ways to take care of wrinkles, acne, excess body hair, etc., but doesn’t say anything about which hairstyle to choose or lipstick colour to wear (or even whether or not you need lipstick — she just assumes you do and then tells you which ones to buy). If you follow her advice, you might prevent any egregious beauty mistakes… but you’ll probably still be a plain Jane.
Men have nowhere to turn for advice.
The women’s beauty market may be clogged with misguided advice, but at least some good information is out there. In the market for men, it’s nonexistent. Sure, there’s tons of advice on men’s clothing, grooming products, and fitness. But what’s missing is a trustworthy guide to improving all aspects of your appearance with the goal of attracting women.
Why do men need an all-encompassing guide? You might think they could just piece together the clothing/grooming/fitness advice and work the rest out for themselves. But the problem is that conventional guides don’t treat attractiveness as the main goal.
For example, a fitness magazine’s goal might be teaching men to build muscle — with no consideration for whether readers will look more attractive as a result. This is useful for men who share the same goal (building muscle), but it’s less helpful if you just want to know how to look better.
Similarly, stylists’ main goal is to make their clients look “stylish” (which just ends up meaning “fashionable”), not attractive. Since fashion depends on the trends of the moment, you end up wearing stuff because other people have decided it looks cool right now, even though it might look terrible on you.
If you want to dress to attract the opposite sex, you’re better off in clothes that suit your appearance and lifestyle, even if that means ignoring fashion. But lots of stylists think you should do exactly the opposite: prioritize fashion over your personal characteristics.
Here’s an example from the popular men’s styling service Style Girlfriend. The site recommends this look, featuring a bright yellow jacket:
It doesn’t say anything about why you would need a yellow jacket. Presumably, every man needs a jacket, and yellow ones are cool right now, so that’s what you should wear.
And sure, there’s a chance you’ll end up looking as good as this guy:
But if you’re an average-sized middle-aged man, it’s more likely to turn out like this:
Obviously the second guy’s jacket has a baggier fit. But I doubt he’d look much better in a narrow bomber style. The overall effect would still be that of a portly, aging fisherman.
As you can see, the stylist’s advice is useless for anyone other than a young model-esque guy in an urban area with a moderate climate who wants to look trendy yet casual. (So that list of “men’s wardrobe essentials” should really be named “young model-esque guy in an urban area with a moderate climate who wants to look trendy yet casual’s wardrobe essentials”.)
Here’s how to wear a yellow jacket, for a more general demographic:
(Or at least proceed with caution.)
The bottom line:
Why is it so hard to find decent beauty advice? Here’s the simplest answer: there’s more money to be made from telling people how to look fashionable/cool/trendy/normal than there is from teaching them how to be attractive.
Eventually, you'll have nothing left to buy that could make you look more attractive — but you'll never run out of things to buy to look trendier.
That’s because when you’re obsessed with being trendy, you constantly have to buy the latest stuff. When your goal is to be attractive, you just have to find out what works for you, and stick to it. So which one will you choose?