I Tested My Guy Friends To See If They Preferred The Natural Makeup Look Or Barefaced. Here’s What Happened

Some of us have enough cosmetics to fill a closet while others stick to a couple staple products, but whatever level of occupation that makeup has in your life, I’m almost certain that you have your own take on the minimal makeup look.

By Andrea Mew4 min read
shutterstock 1753123268 (1)

Without a doubt, mastering “natural makeup” is no easy task, but many women find it to be an important skill so they can enhance their natural features and look more refined than they normally would moments after they roll out of bed.

The cosmetics brand Japonesque eloquently described how beautifully transformative makeup can be for a woman to look and feel her best, but “sometimes less is more. Even when it’s not” – which is where “natural makeup” comes into the picture.

While it goes without saying that many women get ready for the day for themselves as opposed to for a man, we'd be lying if we said we didn't care what they thought at all. With many men claiming that they don't find heavy makeup on women attractive and would prefer them to wear no makeup at all, it lead us to wonder, do men know the difference between a "no-makeup" look (cue: minimal, glowy makeup) and being totally barefaced? If so, which do they truly prefer when put to the test?

I gathered pictures from around the internet of women baring their natural face next to their signature minimal makeup look and asked guys which look on each woman was more attractive. Honestly, their preferences took me by surprise.

Let’s Dive Right into the Experiment

Woman #1

barefaced natural makeup test 1
Image Source: Reddit 
  • 56.3% of men preferred her with makeup

  • 43.8% of men preferred her barefaced

Woman #2

barefaced natural makeup test 2
Image Source: Reddit 
  • 62.5% of men preferred her with makeup 

  • 37.5% of men preferred her barefaced

Woman #3

barefaced natural makeup test 3
Image Source: Reddit 
  • 56.3% of men preferred her with makeup 

  • 43.8% of men preferred her barefaced

Woman #4

barefaced natural makeup test 4
Image Source: Reddit 
  • 68.8% of men preferred her with makeup 

  • 31.3% of men preferred her barefaced

Woman #5

barefaced natural makeup test 6
Image Source: Reddit 
  • 75% of men preferred her with makeup 

  • 25% of men preferred her barefaced

Woman #6

barefaced natural makeup test 7
Image Source: Reddit 
  • 93.8% of men preferred her with makeup 

  • 6.3% of men preferred her barefaced

Okay, So Let’s Unpack Their Reasoning

Based on the survey results, the large majority of the men preferred how the women looked when they wore light and natural makeup versus the same woman actually barefaced. Of all 6 tests, the makeup version won the vote every time – as well as one shocking result where almost 100% of men preferred the woman in question to wear light makeup – but overall the results are in: men like a more polished look. Many of them who claimed initially to prefer a woman who wore no makeup at all were clearly mistaken.

From what I can see with this visual test, men prefer when the key features of your face are defined and when your complexion looks even.

“It doesn’t hurt to make your eyebrows more visible if they’re too light, for instance,” explained one guy. Many “no-makeup” makeup looks will use quick brow tools like Anastasia Beverly Hill’s Brow Wiz, Glossier’s BoyBrow, or NYX’s Tinted Brow Mascara.

Especially in recent years, big brows have been all the rage. If you have naturally full eyebrows like Cara Delevingne, more power to you. That being said, a few men raised red flags for women who “create unnatural characteristics” like overexaggerated brows.

“I don’t like it when women wear a whole lot of makeup to the point that she’s basically sculpting an entirely new face,” one man admitted.

Men want to know what you look like underneath your makeup, or at least know that you’re feeling comfortable in your own skin. “Too much makeup is alarming,” another man expressed, “I perceive it as a woman trying to hide what they really look like.”

“Too much makeup is alarming. I perceive it as a woman trying to hide what they really look like.”

Confidence is sexy, and to some men, if your makeup seems like a way for you to hide what you think are flaws (small blemishes, birthmarks, freckles, discoloration, scarring, you name it) then they might assume you lack confidence.

A few other men shared that they really don’t care if a woman wants to wear makeup, as long as she matches her confidence with a good personality. 

“I love a girl who can go all natural and embrace not looking like a completely different person,” admitted one of the guys.

There’s no “one size fits all” advice for a woman when it comes to makeup, but I’m certain that these results show that men appreciate when women highlight their natural beauty with subtle makeup – not too much, not too little. Easy, right?

Too Much Makeup Can Be Bad for Your Skin

Here’s the thing: If you’re packing on products, you might be adding to what you perceive your “flaws” to be by inadvertently creating more blemishes or dull skin texture. And some guys are looking out for you with their preferences…I’m serious!

One man explained that he prefers a woman to not wear makeup at all because he says that “putting anything on the skin has a chance of causing problems, ranging from cosmetics that have carcinogens in them and nobody is aware of the nature of those ingredients yet, or at best they can be 100% clean, but still, stuff is going on skin and potentially clogging pores and causing other issues.” If we thought men didn't pay attention to the beauty industry, this guy alone proves we were mistaken.

Another guy felt similarly, sharing that he thinks that “too much makeup looks like a clown and probably destroys your actual face, but light applications of makeup are okay.”

“I love a girl who can go all natural and embrace not looking like a completely different person.”

The trick to painting on a perfect “no-makeup” makeup look is starting with the best canvas. It’s not a lie when people say that beauty comes from within. Eating well, sweating regularly, staying hydrated, getting sufficient sleep, and a skincare routine appropriate for your skin type all contribute to your skin’s health and texture.

Makeup is a wonderful tool, but as one of the guys wisely explained, “Makeup only covers the problems.”

Makeup Can Signal You Care About Your Appearance

A few of the men pointed out how makeup is a resource for a woman in her daily beauty routine to amplify her confidence, since “it shows she’s putting in effort the same way that clothing, hair, etc. does.”

Makeup is one of our tools to, as one man put it, “signal someone is putting in effort to make themselves presentable.” In his opinion, he thinks that men are “drawn to the ones that are showing effort since it indicates that they hold themselves – and other women – to a higher standard.”

He wasn’t alone. Many of the men surveyed admitted that they’re put off by women who adopt the mindset that beauty standards are sexist, racist, ableist… the “ists” went on.

Clearly, men love a look that can actually be more easily attainable, cost you less money, and save you a bunch of time when you’re dolling up for the day. So for your inspo? Think like the French, and embrace your (almost) effortless beauty with an iconic, simple makeup look. 

Closing Thoughts

As we noted previously, we're not insisting that you shift your makeup preferences to serve what men like most. However, if you're currently in the dating scene and searching for a mate, this little experiment may come in handy. While many of us have been raised and influenced by social media to believe that more makeup is better and that contouring, over-lining our lips, and perfecting the art of the smoky eye is the key to appearing more attractive, the mens' thoughts here clearly contradict that.

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