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News & Insight

The Power of Makeup? A Before and After Photo Sparks Debate on Reddit

By Hanssie on October 5th 2013

A Reddit user sparked some fierce debate earlier this week when they posted a side by side before and after photo showing the stark contrast of a woman with and without makeup. The photo on the left shows a woman without her hair and makeup done, while in the photo on the right, her hair is curled and she is heavily made up.

Captioned, “Make-up. That’s it,” the photo has garnered over 700 comments with opinions ranging from criticism to praise over the images. Arguments about posing, angles, lighting, post processing are mixed in with kudos over the work of professional makeup artists. Many deliberated over if women in general should wear makeup at all.

What are your thoughts? Before? After? Makeup? No Makeup? Photoshop? Angles? Does makeup really make a woman more attractive? Share your comments below.


(Via @Huffington Post)

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Alicia

    she looks amazing afterward, and I know it’s less editing time for the photog. And you cant tell me she did not feel beautiful.

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  2. Lea Sophie

    I just have to say, for everyone yelling photoshop, this particular photo may or may not be photoshopped – however, I know for a fact that this is possible with just makeup – I had a model just the other day who looked a lot like the before image, and once the MUA was done with her, her skin looked flawless, her face was contoured, her eyes looked bigger, and her nose looked smaller. Its done with shading, and I think its impressive as all hell.

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  3. Caroline

    Being a woman myself, I would be much happier with the second photo. Girls just want to look good on pictures and as long as the main features which make up a face are not changed too much, I don’t think it’s that bad. As a photographer, I want to bring out the best out of people and I think a little make-up and or photoshop can work miracles, on the condition that the client still recognises herself. In this case I think it’s make-up (f.e. by adding dark blush to the sides of the nose you can make a nose look slimmer).

    That being said, I believe the girl would have already looked much better in the natural picture if she smiled :)

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  4. Tosin Pedro

    Great job by the makeup artist. I believe this (and more) can be achieved quite easily with makeup and no photoshop. The slimness of her nose and face shape is down to great contouring.
    I do agree that makeup shouldn’t be excessive and the subject should at least still look like the same person however I think the makeup or no makeup debate is quite tiring. If a woman (or man) wants to wear makeup for whatever reason then they should do so freely.
    Personally I prefer time and effort to be spent in hair and makeup to save me time and effort in post processing/retouching.

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  5. Zoe taylor

    As a photographer an make up artist please let me reassure you that this can be done without Photoshop ….. I could make you up to the point you would hardly recognise yourself however, what is the point? I much prefer to enhance a woman’s features rather than change them entirely so you can’t recognise them.

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  6. Gorky

    I truly believe that make up and lighting (and a little bit of alcohol) can do wonders no photoshop expert can do. I once went home with a hot, hot, hot chick I met in a club..but in the morning when she came out of the shower…I almost jumped out of the window like a frightened kitten

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  7. Judy

    that nose is NOT the same.

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  8. oldziniex

    fu*k about nose, how about ear? I think it’s too small

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  9. Clark Linehan

    That could definitely be done with make-up only as the before and after’s don’t exactly match angle. The after also looks to have been shot with a longer lens based on how much less of the background is visible though the heads are about the same size, so that may well have changed the shape. You’re also looking at photographs that have the maximum amount of difference given that the first obviously has no make-up to maximize blemishes and skin reflectivity. There are plenty of us who proceed Photoshop who used lens selection to expand or compress the apparent image.

    As to the make-up or even if it was Photoshop, so what? Beauty is in the eye of the checkbook holder. I’ve shown any number of portrait clients a “natural” vs. retouched final image and I have yet to have anyone say they didn’t want some retouching.

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  10. Crystelle Carrick

    I follow a few make up artists on YouTube and they most certainly can change a face and nose like that with just make up. I say good job.

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  11. Tyler Brown

    stop debating and go shoot!

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  12. Venessa Baez

    I’m pretty sure this debate has been around for centuries, in a variety of different countries, in different forms. Whether it be how women would powdered themselves with flour in the middle ages or how the royal Egyptians would wear their excessive eyeliner, people always have and probably always will prefer women (and men as well), with makeup.

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  13. Ellie

    I really don’t see the debate – whether you like the final image or not all women know that they can look better with a little bit of makeup, and this shows the extreme; whether to your taste or not.

    CY Pennick makes an excellent point; no-one wants to be captured in an unflattering picture and as a professional wedding photographer, the number of people who are caught up in ‘how do I look’ in the image as opposed to ‘how does this make me feel’, that at least professional make up allows the protagonists in the story to relax and enjoy the way they look, regardless of the pose.

    I think as long as we are all aware of the true nature of ourselves and the transformative nature of all of the above, and particularly teenagers are aware, then why is this a debate? Isn’t it fantastic that the woman who looks perceivedly ordinary can look fantastic with a bit of trickery?

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  14. brady

    definitely looks better with makeup, but natural is best. the trick is to use makeup so it looks natural. coming from a photographers standpoint, looks is everything we don’t shoot personalities, LOL, but as a person, you should be who you are, natural is best but, if they feel better covering it up with make up works for them, than do it. no wrong or right, just my opinion. at the end of the day F-everyone, do what you think is best, you only live once.

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  15. Jenny

    I say who cares :P

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  16. C.Y. Pennick

    This will be a topic for debate forever…make-up or no make-up. But the reality is no one wants to be captured badly in a photo. And a photo is forever.

    Clients don’t come up to you and say, “I want you to take my portrait with bad hair and a pimple in the middle of my forehead.” Most clients spend the time and money to look their best for a photo session, and it is our jobs as photographers to make the subject look their best. And even if their photo looks “ok”, clients usually ask for a little retouch work here and there. Again, it’s our job to fulfill the request while retaining the essence of the subject.

    I think the important point to maintain, is to inform young children and teenagers that this is make believe. I’m a Baby Boomer and that’s what our parents said about television.

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  17. Noone in particular

    No, that’s photoshopped. Her nose has changed shape, it’s thinner on the “after” than it is on the “before” Makeup can’t do that.

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    • Eldad

      i disagree. The angle on each shot is a bit different, and on the “after” shot her nose is casting a shadow which makes it look thinner. Plus, yes, MU can make a nose, or anything, look thinner, if shading is applied in a good manner.

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    • brady

      make up can do it, it about the shadows and lighting and angels. pretty cool, right?

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    • Lauren

      Make-up can change an entire face. For extreme examples, watch what the contestants of Ru Paul’s Drag Race do with make-up. They transform themselves from manly men, to beautiful ‘women’. It’s amazing.
      I’ve tried contouring on myself and in photographs my nose turns up visibly narrower.
      You really don’t need Photoshop if you have an amazing make-up artist such as the above photograph.
      It’s much more pleasant (and a time saver) when I’m retouching and don’t have to use burn and dodge methods because the MUA has already done that in real life. A good MUA is key. :)

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  18. Ronnie

    I came from old school photography when there was NO photoshop. The make up artist had to do a flawless job on the no so perfect models. So with good makeup work there is no need to retouch

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  19. Melissa

    I don’t think it is Photoshopped, I think it is great contouring with makeup. Julie Chen, who just opened up about her plastic surgery, had a video posted to show people that she didn’t have her nose done, only her eyes. Here is the video, and it really shows was makeup contouring can do.

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  20. Houa Vang

    If you have a good makeup artist you don’t have to photoshop much at all. there’s nothing wrong with makeup

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  21. Ederson Novacki

    It is not necessarily photoshop. I can assure you that makeup by itself can do that easily, if its used by a professional.

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  22. Tucker

    A good MUA can make a transformation like this possible without photoshop. I will say it’s quite the transformation.

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  23. Spicytee

    Makeup does makes a woman more attractive when it is done in moderation. There was a clear difference with the before and after. But the image was extremely Photoshop, a little could have been better.

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  24. M

    Looks like a Photoshop retouch to me…

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    • Eric

      Makeup, lighting and angle. Doesn’t take editing when done right.

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  25. Kat

    I love that the person had to point out which photo was the ‘before’ and which one was the ‘after’.

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  26. s.j.

    too much makeup, too much photoshop, too much of everything…exept facial expression…just a little bit of makeup to make her skin less shiny & a smile would have done a much better picture in my opinion…

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