What is beauty?

According to the Oxford Dictionary beauty is a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. This sparked an interest in me. We all know that beauty is subjective; after all beauty is in the eye of the beholder; but what is it influenced by?

It is in our primitive brain that our ideas around beauty are formed. This part of the brain is heavily influenced by culture. What we perceive as physically attractive is heavily influenced by popular culture. Take, for example, the massive explosion of contour kits now available on almost every make-up counter globally and the impact a few images Tweeted by Kim Kardashian West had on the make-up industry. This old-school stage-makeup technique which has been used by MUA’s for decades, implemented by the use of foundations, bronzers and concealers before these contour kits were available on the market, became a global phenomenon and is now the desired look by many. Using media tools, such as Twitter and Instagram, she has launched her own product range and is, by

many, viewed as a beauty influencer and pioneer. She has become the first-ever recipient of the CFDA’s Influencer Award. David Bowie had a similar effect in the 1970s, however did not have the added benefits or mass instant global coverage that is now available.

Terry Barber, MAC Director of Makeup Artistry, at The Beauty Insider Takeover Drag-matic Make-up event hosted by Selfriges, discussed how this “look” fashioned by Kim is essentially incorporating drag make-up application techniques into an everyday look. The essence of Drag make-up application is to restructure the male face to soften and hyper feminise the features though the use of light and shade, ergo contouring.

What is clear is that popular and celebrity culture shape and define our idea of beauty.

My 3 favourite “baking products”:

  1. Laura Mercier
  2. RCMA No Colour Powder
  3. La Mer The Powder


Scheel, J. (2014, April, 24) Culture Dictates the Standard of Beauty. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-food-is-family/201404/culture-dictates-the-standard-beauty

Shapouri, B. (2012, September, 5) Kim Kardashian Tweeted Out Pictures of Her Makeup Contouring Trick In Progress! Come See the Magic! Retrieved from: https://www.glamour.com/story/kim-kardashian-tweeted-out-pic

Shapiro, B. (2017, June, 9) Kim Kardashian West on Her New Beauty Line and Those Blackface Allegations. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/fashion/kim-kardashian-beauty-line-blackface-allegations.html

Armstrong, L. (2016, January, 11) Androgyny and psychedelic make-up: David Bowie’s impact on fashion can’t be overstated. Retrieved from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/people/androgyny-and-psychedelic-make-up-david-bowies-impact-on-fashion/

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