Is It Ever OK To Tell Someone She's Doing Her Makeup Wrong?

We've found that only nuns can get away with telling strangers they don't look good.
Publish date:
March 14, 2013
How-To, mascaras, bronzers, friends, tanning

We consider makeup an art, and art has its critics. The problem with criticizing people’s makeup, however, is that they often think you’re criticizing their actual face, which you would never, ever do. At least not to said face.

It can be a serious bruise to a person's ego, so when it comes anything looks-related, it’s probably best to keep your mouth shut. Maybe that woman who thinks that blush compacts are single servings genuinely likes how that looks.

But because we’re obsessed with and well-versed in beauty, we often think we know it all and find it hard to keep our mouths shut when we see someone who would probably benefit from a little makeup guidance. We just can't stand seeing a pretty lady stifle her own beauty because she’s apparently in the two percent of women who are colorblind; or a coed camped out on the train floor, curling her lashes over the course of a dozen stops. How does that not hurt, woman?!

We understand the concept of boundaries, and we’re actually pretty shy, but sometimes our unsolicited advice just comes flying out of our mouths and into unappreciative ears. It's just that if one of us were to go out looking like we’re just getting home from an all-night krumping orgy, we’d want someone to tell us.

After much research and soul-searching, we’ve come up with the situations in which it is and isn’t OK to speak up.


Our friend (we’ll call her X) likes to dabble in the extreme, from crazy hairstyles to clothes that look like they’ve been attacked by the possessed lawnmower from the 1989 horror masterpiece Blades. We love her for her individuality and often wish we could pull off the same “I found this in my closet, ripped it up, stapled it together, and won an award for being awesome” awesomeness.

Fun fact: This friend got assaulted by a nun on the subway for wearing her pants too low; the nun physically pulled up her pants and gave her an nun wedgie.

Anyway, X normally had a good beauty look, but what really bothered us was that she was into tanning--a lot. After years of yelling at her about the dangers, we were relieved when she took to bronzers instead. We noticed she started to pile on the bronzer a bit heavy, but we didn’t say anything for fear of sending her back to the tanning bed.

One day, she got into one of our makeup stashes, and what emerged was terrifying. See, X is white; we are brown. Brown face powder + white skin = a not-good, potentially offensive look. (Remember Ashton Kutcher’s Popchips brownface controversy?)

X thought she created a convincing tan. We disagreed and chased X around with makeup remover. Words were exchanged and makeup flew everywhere; it was basically one of those cartoon fight clouds with things popping out of it, except the cloud was tan.

Finally, one of us snapped a picture of her, shoved it in her face and said, ”Dude, you look like an Oompa Loompa.”

X started cracking up and accepted the makeup remover willingly. She never repeated the offense. Success!


Pia almost got bitch-slapped for telling some girl to stop pumping her mascara in and out of its tube.

This chick did not understand why a stranger was trying to give her advice--genuinely good, helpful, caring advice. Pumping mascara pushes bacteria inside! She was all like, “Whatever, I know what I’m doing.”

She’s probably got pink eye now. THE END.

So, yeah, it’s OK to be upfront when you’re dealing with friends because friends give each other advice they believe in, and they also forgive you when you’ve accidentally offended them.

Strangers, not so much. Whatever, let the nuns deal with them.

Have you ever tried to tell someone they weren't doing their makeup very well? How'd that turn out?