10 possible replies to men who comment on your makeup

The fact of makeup is that it’s on your face, and the fact of your face is that it’s usually the first thing the world sees, unless the world is looking at your breasts or your sweet new kicks. 


The world, deluded and strange as it is, will often see fit to comment on what you choose to daub on your gob, and in that case the world will most often come in the form of a man, a confused man, a man who has never been subjected to the delights of Ruby Woo, and probably doesn’t deserve it.

You can keep your head down. You can walk on by. Or you can reply.

10. “You look so different without makeup!”

“My foundation costs £40! My mascara cost £21! I spend more money on makeup than I do on food! I would probably have enough money for a deposit on a house if I didn’t keep buying bloody NAKED palettes! If I looked the same I’d be gutted!”

9. “You’re probably single because men like natural girls”. 

“I’m single because I like men who are non-judgmental and interesting and funny and YOU SIR are none of these things and are also MAYBE an actual alien if you think I’m single for any other reason than those I’ve chosen, like wanting to draw on my eyebrows and watch Netflix for 48 hours straight instead of pandering to the whims of an IDIOT, GOOD DAY SIR.”


*Stand really still and pretend to be a tree*

8. “I prefer less makeup”.

“So, wear less makeup. WTF does that have to do with me?”

7. “You know, I’d probably date you if you weren’t so high maintenance…” 

“I would probably date you, if you didn’t look like Donald Trump mated with a rat and ran his subsequent offspring through a blender, then stuck it back together with Prit Stick. Here, try some concealer. You might be surprised. You might. It’s makeup, it’s not f*cking magic”.

6. “Woah! Baby! Why all the makeup?!”

Lean in, whisper “Because of the voices”, lick his face, run away.

5. “Why do you always wear so much makeup?” 

“Because without it, I’ll die. Literally die. Men will stop noticing me on the street and trying to give me their number in bars, and when that happens, my sense of self will completely disappear, washed down the drain with my lipstick, and my mother will disown me for failing to win a man and society will offer me a cat and turn its back, and that is when I will waste away, reading Daily Mail articles and weeping, and eventually be eaten by that same cat. That is why.”

4. “When women wear makeup, they’re just lying to men”. 

“The whole world is a lie, David. Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams”.

3. “That’s a lot of face paint!”

“I’m a professional clown. If I don’t wear this much makeup, I’ll get fired from my job and cease contributing to the economy and then I’ll have to leave London because I won’t be able to afford rent and actually I can’t afford my rent as it IS, clowns are not very highly paid, DO YOU WANT A BALLON ANIMAL IT IS TEN POUNDS BUT YOU WILL LOVE IT LIKE A CHILD, STAND STILL WHILE I BLOW THIS UP WHERE ARE YOU GOING”.

2. “You’d be so much prettier without all of that on your face…”

*grab his shirt and slowly clean face, revealing engorged aspect of demonic creature, ready to feast on male flesh* “Thank you!”

  1. “Girls just wear makeup to impress men”. 

“F*** off”.

NB: The final response is adequate for all above questions. Alternatively, just fling a tampon and run away. That shit is like a GRENADE. 

The perfumes that remind me of people I’ve known

Your nose is physically very close to your brain, so it makes sense that your olfactory sense is closely linked to memory. That’s how I see it, anyway. Science. 

For me, the perfumes I’ve worn on my own skin have been interchangeable. I started out with Gucci Envy and now wear Black Opium; I have an attraction to rich and heady scents. But for me, perfumes have always been a dalliance and an enticement, rather than a commitment. I like to change and experiment, and while I envy those with signature scents, that’s not what works for me.

That said, in my life, there have been many people who wore very specific scents, to the exclusion of all else; people so close to me that when I walk by someone wearing the same, I’m transported back, and moved, and upset. How dare they?

My Choir Master – Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds

She was a large lady and a looming presence, a genius with a touch of the sadist, and her moods and choices dictated much of what I did for my five years of high school. She herself loathed false and sickly scents (she once threw a 14-year-old out of choir for putting on strawberry lipbalm) but moved everywhere in an almost-tangible cloud of White Diamonds. Years later, I worked in a kitchen where one of the dish-hands wore the same, and whenever I smelled it I stood up a bit straighter, arched my palette, felt a flutter of nerves. She was near, but not near.

My First Boyfriend – CK One 

There’s nothing quite like that first one, and even now when I smell CK One on a man, a tall man, a man with dark hair and white shirt, there is something that moves in my gut and sends heat racing forth. I was sixteen, seventeen, hormonally-savage, watching him from outside windows, and taking extra shifts in the restaurant to be a bit nearer, be a bit closer, convince him that the three-year age gap didn’t matter.

He brought his cologne to work and left it in the changing room, and when I saw it on the shelf, I sprayed it into my handbag, so I could smell him between shifts. OK, I was a giant creep. We dated for 11 months, and I broke up with him over the phone.

My University Friend – Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb

It’s a gut-punch of a perfume, one with the kind of sillage that stays in the room long after the wearer had left, and as someone who had never worn expensive perfume, I just thought it was her, something she did, her own warmth. Law school ties you together with long nights and long essays and doubt, and my law school, all wood and carpet and books, is laced together with that feverish floral waft. It’s a popular scent, it’s everywhere, and so I’m looking for her, almost everyday: on the tube, in the elevator, at a party.

My Mother – Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche

She’s worn it forever, as far as I know, constantly topped up by visitors passing through Duty Free from London to New Zealand, often accompanied with a nearly matched blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire. It’s a mellow, sweet scent, correctly named, and it is the smell of her neck in bed in the morning and her arms at night and everything she’s ever touched. Her wardrobe is full of it, lingering on collars and cuffs. This is one scent that I never smell anywhere else, maybe because it’s so entwined, in my mind, with her own body chemistry. Perfumes smell different on everyone, but it is only with Rive Gauche that I truly know this to be true.

I bought it for her myself this Christmas, for the first time ever, making my pilgrimage from London to New Zealand with the blue can that’s stood in her bathroom forever. I’ll go back again next year with the same.

A life in lipstick: From Snob to Black Cherry and beyond…

What was your first lipstick?

Not one you got in a babydoll palette for your seventh birthday; not one you snatched from a dressing table and smeared across your mouth; not even one applied to you before a ballet recital, too red, too sticky, too adult, still.

If you’re a lipstick lover then you’re bound to remember, because it’s caught up in so much more than purchase and progression: it’s growing up, it’s experimenting. It’s taking your look into your own hands, and it’s also trying something for you.

MAC Snob

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My first lipstick was Snob, because I loved the look that a chalky pout gave: coupled with bleached hair and black brows and eyeliner so thick it crowded out your eyes. Nevermind that I was a brunette with sparse brown brows and an investment in people not looking.

The first time I wore Snob I was walking up the stairs at lawschool. A girl I knew from years back stopped me, pointed at my mouth and loudly said “SNOB”. I thought she was insulting me. But she knew. Lipstick sisterhood, colour memory: it’s a real thing.

Revlon Fire And Ice

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I didn’t get bored of pink, exactly, but it didn’t show up in my smeary drunk snaps the way I wished it would, and so I looked for something a little more dazzling. Still a student, I couldn’t afford the MAC spectrum, and so I went hunting at the pharmacy.

I stole the idea of Fire And Ice from the Lovely Bones: it’s the lipstick that the rebellious grandmother puts on the granddaughter left behind before she goes to her sister’s funeral. I liked that it was in literary. I also liked that it was cheap. I still have that exact same tube (probably unsanitary). Lipstick goes a long way.

MAC Ruby Woo

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My end-of-year ball was masked, so my eye makeup couldn’t be the focus it usually was. I wanted a red that would glow beneath the gorgeous gold mask the girl I worked with at the coffee shop made me. My friend recommended Ruby Woo. “It works on everyone”.

I wasn’t sure that it worked on me, staring into the bright lights at the MAC counter, all chubby cheeks and cheap jacket. I bought it, though. Learned to love it. It’s still my favourite, and it’s still the one I trust to stay put through everything.

Revlon Black Cherry

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I was too old for a rebellious phase but I had one anyway, drawn out of me by men who told me I “didn’t need so much makeup”.

F*ck you, I thought, as I selected the darkest, vampiest shade and bought it without even trying it on. Men don’t approach me when I wear this shade, still. I wear it all the time.

LA Splash in Sirius

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This isn’t a lipstick you mess around with. A thick gloopy dark blue, gifted to me by a best friend who loves Harry Potter the same way I do. I’ve worn it out of the house once.

It gets on my teeth. I love it. I just wish I were braver.

Clinique in Sweet Pop

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It’s not a colour I would ever have chosen, but it was an expensive brand and it came free in a goody bag at a party where I was surrounded by the kind of people I wanted to be, so I wore it anyway.

Melon is not my colour. It makes me look very pink and pale and mottled. I gave it away, not that long ago, barely worn, at my little sister’s 22nd birthday party. All her friends are beautiful.

Limecrime in Cashmere

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This lipstick makes me look like I was murdered by my boyfriend and pushed off a pier, and floated up on the banks of the Thames two days later. Don’t be fooled by the pinky filter: it’s a grey-beige, a dead colour. It makes me feel like I might disappear.

There have been other lipsticks, obviously – a thousand MAC ones, a million Rimmel, others that have jumped out and stuck through colour or name or model or scent.

But that’s my timeline in lipstick. May it grow ever longer. What’s yours?