As a guy, my understanding of makeup is admittedly limited to the way that I notice and encounter it on the faces of the women around me.
Over the years, I've probably too often tended to be the sort of unrealistic and willfully unseeing guy who would say unhelpful things to women like "I don't think you should wear makeup at all." This line of thinking -- often held by guys who think they are being enlightened and respectful -- seems to presume that the application of cosmetics is done by women solely for the benefit of men. But I've lately, and perhaps quite belatedly, learned that makeup can often be far less important for the way that it makes me feel than it is for the way it makes the woman wearing it feel.
In these cases, cosmetics can make a woman more comfortable in her own skin, enabling her to be more herself. Makeup can help reveal something inalienable about a woman's personality. Or simply express something that is fleeting but absolutely true about her mood or intentions on a given occasion. It would certainly be hard to argue against makeup under such circumstances.
Bearing these things in mind, I think that perhaps makeup is best deployed like punctuation -- a bold, crimson exclamation point of lipstick or perhaps some smoky, coy eye makeup operating like a question mark -- insofar as it adds meaning and emotion to prose. Like punctuation, this sort of makeup can clarify and emphasize rather than distract.
Bad makeup, on the other hand is like receiving correspondence in ALL CAPS. It is rigid and without nuance. The reader feels like he's being taken for a fool while also losing some respect for the author of the note. An overuse of makeup can be as garish and intrusive as an addiction to tanning. In these cases, it feels to me that it obscures or misrepresents someone's true character. It seems like they are less at ease, less themselves.
Certainly there are occasions for glamorous deceptions and frivolity, so I'll exclude any situations in which I, if present, would feel compelled to wear a tie or cuff links from such statements. Rather these impressions are more about the daily interactions of men and women. In those cases, authenticity is attractive, confidence is beguiling and ease can be an aphrodisiac. If makeup helps a woman with these things then by all means ladies, to quote Bruce Springsteen, "put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty."
Chris Greenberg is the editor of HuffPost Sports. Be sure to also check out his reaction to super skinny models.