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Why the No Makeup Trend Can Be More Expensive Than Buying Makeup

Lauren Dado

Lauren Dado

Last updated 07 September, 2016

If you’re not Alicia Keys or genetically blessed with flawless skin, wearing #nomakeup in Singapore can cost you thousands of dollars.

In a personal essay penned on 31 May, Alicia Keys said that going without makeup for her album cover photo was the “strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt.” She hoped it would be a “revolution” because she “doesn’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”

Nobody took much notice until last week, when the singer made a strong statement by going to the Video Music Awards completely barefaced. This inspired several women in Singapore to take on the no makeup challenge, albeit with mixed feelings.

While quitting makeup seems like it could save women time and money, the harsh truth is that most of us can’t afford it.  New research suggests that women who wear makeup tend to out-earn women who’d rather let their natural beauty shine. This might be due to the fact that wearing makeup at work makes you feel confident, which in turn makes you appear more competent to your colleagues.

See Also: 5 Surprising Ways Your Wardrobe Affects Your Income

For women who aren’t genetically blessed with flawless skin, building the confidence to go bare-faced costs far more than fancy foundation. Here’s why.


A Basic Set of Makeup Costs S$200 or Less

Before anything else, let’s determine our baseline by considering the cost of your basic makeup arsenal. We’ve listed the products you need for a light, no-makeup makeup look, and used Sephora’s in-house label as a frame of reference for price.



MicroSmooth Baked Foundation Face PowderS$30
Smooth and Bright ConcealerS$24
Long Lasting Brow PencilS$15
24-Hour Felt Liner (Intense Black)S$20
Outrageous Curl MascaraS$26
Rouge Shine LipstickS$22

Depending on the brand and product, you can get your look on for around S$137. Even if you use them daily, there’s a good chance you won’t need to replace anything for two months.

So even with a S$80 bottle of foundation, you probably won’t spend more than S$200 on basic makeup.

skincare regimen

Radiant Makeup-Free Skin Requires Expensive Prep

No-makeup doesn’t mean no-skincare. In fact, you probably need specialised products to exfoliate, hydrate, and dewy-fy your skin in ways your average skincare brand can’t.

An interview with makeup artist Dotti revealed what she uses to prettify Alicia Keys’ face. If you were to enhance near-flawless skin in a similar fashion, this is how much it would cost:


What It Does


Eminence Lip TreatmentRefines, preps, and hydrates lipsS$81
Eminence Rosehip Exfoliating MaskA light, exfoliating face mask that removes dead skin cells and refines the look of your complexionS$62.43
3Lab Healthy Glow Lip BalmKeeps lips hydrated while delivering subtle colour and shimmerS$74.65
Vita Liberata Self-Tanning Anti-Age SerumA foundation replacement that creates a very natural-looking tanS$61
Anastasia Brow PenUsed to bring out Alicia Keys’ frecklesS$28.50
Tarte Cheek StainAdds a youthful glow to cheeksS$40
MV Instant Revival BoosterUsed as a treatment to make skin glow beautifullyS$122.5

While you don’t literally have to use the same products, you can bet that high-performing alternatives will set you back several hundred dollars.

facial treatments in singapore

Effective Acne Scar Removal Costs Thousands of Dollars

It gets more complicated for women with acne and pitted scars from old breakouts. Unlike freckles, society doesn’t find acne very charming. Nor is society and the beauty industry very subtle about shaming women into covering up their “flaws”.

Before a woman with problematic skin goes sans makeup, she’d want to undergo expensive treatments to heal acne and get rid of scars for good.

The mildest of these treatments are facial extractions, which come as part of a facial spa treatment. Pimples and blackheads are removed by an aesthetician, which gives skin a temporary reprieve from acne. Prices range from S$88 for a first-time treatment, to S$374.50 for a full-blown procedure that includes deep cleansing and a custom-blended face mask.

Severe acne requires power tools and a skilled dermatologist. A variety of treatments are available in Singapore, such as the Q-Switch laser treatment (around S$150 S$300) and carbon laser peeling (around S$280 per session).

Only when acne is fully healed can you start getting rid of the depressed scars. While there are many ways to do this, the most popular and effective method is laser skin resurfacing. Tiny laser beams wound the skin to trigger the creation of new collagen, which fills up existing scars. In Singapore, skin resurfacing costs around S$650 per session.

These treatments aren’t a one-time thing. You’ll want to go for several sessions, depending on your skin’s condition. All of these easily adds up to thousands of dollars.

no makeup movement in singapore

You Do You

While many applauded Alicia Keys for being “brave” and “empowering”, not everyone felt inspired to smash their compacts and set fire to their makeup brushes. In fact, many women reacted with irritation and annoyance because she set the bar too high. While she clarified that she’s not anti-makeup at all, there’s no denying the subtext of her #NoMakeup Movement.

Looking as radiant as Alicia Keys without makeup has become yet another difficult standard among many difficult standards women feel pressured to meet. For women with imperfect skin, it’s an expensive standard to aspire to.

Whether you want to keep buying cosmetics or work towards a foundation-free face, you know yourself well enough to choose how you want to present yourself to the world. Just make sure to keep your spending in check. Be aware of the costs, compare your options, and budget accordingly

Pro-tip: use a credit card when you buy cosmetics or pay for skin procedures so you can earn points from what you spend. You can compare the best credit cards at

Read This Next:

The Broke Girl's Guide to Shopping Gigi Hadid's Beauty Must-Haves

What Carrie Bradshaw Taught Singaporean Girls About Money


Lauren is the Content Manager at When she’s not helping people save time and money, she’s doing yoga, hunting for bargains, and scoring travel deals.


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