Maquillage or Make-Up?

Maquillage, also known in English as ‘make-up.’

  • Make-up: commonly known as facial cosmetics
  • Cosmetics: from the Greek word  kosmētikós, meaning ‘adornment’ or ‘arranged’
  • Make: to bring into existence by shaping or changing material
  • Up: to, toward, or to a more elevated position

(all definitions from

That all makes sense, right? But what about the French etymology for maquillageMaquillage can be traced back to the old French verb maquillier which means to blacken or to smear. Maquillier was slang among the 19th century theatre for applying stage make-up. The word can also be traced to the word masquerade, which is a masked ball, which although is an elaborate luscious event is also full of mystery.

Interesting, isn’t it? The word make-up is derived from mainly positive connotations while  maquillage originated from the concept of becoming someone else, or hiding your true self (in the case for its relation with masquerade).

Personally, I rarely use make-up. By myself, I can apply only lipstick and maybe foundation (that’s the thing with the brush thing that you put everywhere on the face right?-). So I don’t have as much firsthand experience with make-up. But every time I have used it, it was for important or elegant occasions.

I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority, though. A lot of people wear make-up on a daily basis. Now I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing, it’s just interesting from my perspective as a bare face. Cause, I mean, it takes time to apply all that make-up every time you go outside (or almost every time). That, my friends, is what I call dedication.

One thing that always made me curious about make-up wearers is why. Why wear make-up? (Besides the obvious of wanting to look good). Are you insecure in your bare face? Are you trying to impress someone? Do you want more confidence in your image?

One reason why I’m hesitant to use make-up is because once I wipe off all the cosmetics and look at my own face, I’m kind of like…oh,right, this is my face. And I usually feel a bit discouraged looking at my bare face, although I don’t have to be; before I applied any make-up, I was perfectly fine with my appearance. And I have every right to be, as it is the face God gave me.

In other words, I am worried about letting make-up align itself with maquillage. I don’t want to be ashamed of my face or try to cover over it by making myself look unrecognizable. But at the same time, I want to look good for certain occasions (doesn’t everyone?). In which case, I am okay with a little make-up to accentuate my God-given features.

But what about other people? (note: these are my opinions and observations)

In Korea, make-up is more like a norm from what I’ve seen.  A celebrity on a show didn’t want to be filmed without her make-up on because she was worried that people wouldn’t like her face. And of course, there are the bare face/make-uped face pictures of celebrities, usually followed either the ‘she’s still pretty’ or ‘who is this?!’ comments.

In this type of ‘extreme’, I worry for the girls in question. I think it’s dangerous to have such a heavy dependence on make-up as maquillage, because as soon as the cosmetics are gone, where will your confidence go? For me, it’s concerning when I see people tying so many aspects of their life to their masquerade faces to cover over their natural beauty.

Should make-up not be used then? I don’t necessarily think so, but I think that even when people use it, they shouldn’t be scared or ashamed of their bare faces. I think that make-up should be used as it’s defined, to adorn and accentuate features, rather than to cover over or hide a perfectly fine face.


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