An article in The Wall Street Journal last week reported that makeup bars—boutiques where women pay about $40 to get their faces dolled up by a professional makeup artist—are becoming a trend in big cities like Los Angeles and Atlanta. But it’s not just bridesmaids and homecoming dance attendees that are booking appointments at the shops. Women who want to look good for lower-profile events like business meetings, dates and parties are also getting in on the action. As the WSJ explained, “Women, more than ever, feel the need to be camera-ready at all times, thanks mainly to cellphone cameras.” So I wonder: Has the pressure to look perfect become so intense that an at-home makeup job doesn’t cut it anymore?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the power of makeup. Knowing you look your best can ease some of the anxiety that comes along with giving an important presentation or working the room at an intimidating industry event. But I’ve always thought primping for something other than a wedding or major night out could be accomplished simply by applying something extra—black eyeliner or a bright new lipstick, for example, rather than trekking to a beauty studio and paying someone to do it for you. What happened to flipping through a magazine for a new look to try and calling it a day?
What the growing makeup bar trend seems to suggest is that now it takes more—more time, more money and more help—to reach that damn-I-look-good, happy place. Social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr have convinced women that they too are brands—pseudo-celebrities who want to make sure that every photo that hits the internet is in line with their message. Even if it means shelling out a little extra dough for a flawless face.
Like the blow-dry bar junkies the New York Post wrote about recently, I worry that these next-generation makeup counters will create a new group of “addicts;” women who rely a little too much on pros to feel good about themselves in order to function in daily life.
True confidence doesn’t waver from D.I.Y. makeup or a bad hair day. And the best part? It doesn’t cost a dime.