Instagram Beauty: Inspirational or Exhausting?

Published in: Just For Fun

Instagram beauty

I was surprised by the response to a question I asked on Facebook yesterday about Instagram beauty — whether people found it inspirational or exhausting — and I honestly thought that most people would say, “It’s inspirational. I love it. I love seeing a glam face beat,” but there were a lot of different opinions.


Of course, some people said that they love that sort of look, but there were other people, too, who said, “You know, I’m kinda… It’s nice, but I’m kinda over it.”

One that really stuck with me was from a girl who had mentioned that she loves looking at the glam pictures because they give her ideas, and it motivates her to do her makeup every day, and in different ways, but at the same time she also recognized that when you put this one type of very specific look out there over and over and over again, and you put it up on a pedestal, it can alienate people who don’t look that way, or who aren’t that age, and I totally get that.

I mean, I feel that way sometimes. I wish that I could go on makeup pages or makeup accounts and see people in their 30s and 40s who actually look like they’re living real lives — you know, as opposed to these girls, who are beautiful; they’re glamorous — makeup done, hair done, dressed to the nines, and then they’ve got their girl squads, and then here I am, like, baby barf on my t-shirt, and I’m wearing stretchy pants.

I just was very surprised, in a good way, that there does seem to be people out there who are hungry for images of people who love beauty, but who may not necessarily be, like, hyper-edited and hyper-staged.

How do you feel about it? Do you find Instagram beauty accounts inspirational, or are you over it?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. Happy Caturday, my friend. πŸ™‚ I hope you’re doing something fun this weekend. We’re on our way out the door to visit my parents in the East Bay. Maybe — just maybe — they’ll watch her for a few hours so El Hub and I can sneak away to a movie.


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  1. Jacklyn says:

    Hi Karen! Happy Caturday to you!

    I find that as I get older (*sigh*) I’m more selective of who I follow on IG. I just get tired of seeing the same “beat” makeup look with techno music overlay over and over again. I like following a mix of IG accounts that cover different areas of the beauty spectrum, from ultra-bold and creative to minimalist. You never know where you might get inspiration from.

    Anyway hope you have a lovely weekend! P.S. hi Connor Claire!

  2. Becky says:

    Oh goodness me, I am in the a-little-tired-of-it camp. I posted a photo the other day and almost took it back down because it “wasn’t up to the standard” of Instagram makeup… then I thought WHAT?! What standard!? I feel like ordinary humans like me are worried that their unbeat-face isnt ok for a beauty blogger-which is crazy, right? We all love beauty and have different tastes and faces!

    I do love seeing super-amazing cut creases and flawless 21 year old skin, but I feel it can become all-consuming. Not everyone has lips/eyes/skin like that!
    Becky recently posted … The Ordinary – What’s all the fuss about?

  3. Allie says:

    This is a really timely blog post! I just unfollowed all my beauty accounts; I love watching videos and reading blog posts (like yours!) but it was exhausting to have it on the constant scroll. YouTube videos and blog posts I can “participate” in when I choose to!

  4. Most of the time it just makes me feel unsatisfied with myself, so yeah, not a fan of the whole super plastic super flawless trend.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … NOTD | MAC Berlin Studio Nail Lacquer

  5. I follow 6 people on my Insta – a shark girl (@sharkgirlmadison or something, check her out, you will love her), erica valente’s daughter’s nail blog (we old!), another hawaiian girl, traveler, and 3 plus size models. at one time i followed sabrina’s ig but it became too luxe too white too perfect, fast. nah, i stick to blogs. i don’t get ‘perfect’.
    TravelingBlush recently posted … Review: Revlon ColorSilk Permanent Hair Color No. 46 Medium Golden Chestnut Brown

  6. kwmechelle says:

    Yeah, I’m of two minds about it as well. I think some of it is inspirational. But so much of it just seems over done, super airbrushed, not a real life look for, like, everyday. And it’s so popular & so many people are on the bandwagon. I think you mentioned the other day that you’re ready for “real” makeup looks to return. And I couldn’t agree more. Sporting a Real Housewives of (fill in the blank) look on the daily just doesn’t seem practical. *shoulder shrugg*

  7. Dollie says:

    I’m quite fed up, to be honest, of overly made-up, perfectly flawless like, all of which look so monotonous after a point. The same old “perfect” eye makeup with false lashes, contoured and sculpted cheeks and inflated lips. It’s not real. And it’s getting out of hand, setting wrong standards for the younger generation.
    Perhaps you’d like to follow me on instagram – a perfectly real 37 year old mommy of 2 πŸ˜‰ (handle indianshringar).
    Dollie recently posted … La Roche Posay Effaclar Astringent Lotion Micro-Exfoliant Review

  8. Lulle says:

    Great subject!

    First of all I don’t follow the accounts of these girls you describe who always look perfect and have a perfect life. I don’t know, I’m not attracted to these types of feed. I realize it’s staged and in a way fake, and I’m really not into that. Plus to be honest they make me feel bad about myself! So the beauty accounts that I do follow, I usually find inspirational. They post beautiful product shots, pics of their pets, and interesting makeup looks.

    But I am exposed to the type of images you’re referring to through the brands I follow, the regrams, etc. It’s also the type of makeup look and approach that dominates on Youtube. In general I would say that I don’t like the “Insta-face”. It looks fake, and the trend is incredibly conformist (is that a word in English?). Instead of encouraging originality and celebrating the diversity of women’s faces, the Insta-face trend is pushing everyone to look the same. Flawless skin with the help of heavy-duty foundation, chiseled features thanks to extreme contouring, metallic cheekbones, false lashes on a daily basis, nude matte lips. That’s what you should look like if you base your choices on Instagram’s most popular accounts. Basically the idea is that women have to transform themselves to look as much as possible like some ideal standard face. I really, really don’t like that. I think that people are most beautiful when they look different from each other.

    Another problem with the IG/YT current beauty scene is that it’s creating new rules that quickly become accepted as if they were set in stone. Thou shall apply thy concealer in a triangle shape. Thou shall bake thy concealer. Thou shall contour thy nose and apply highlighter to the tip of it (Hi Rudolph the reindeer with a metallic golden nose!!). When doing your eye makeup thou shall always start with thy transition shade. Eeehr… why? Just 2 years ago nobody was doing that this way, so why is it that it how you MUST do your makeup now, if you don’t want to be labeled an ignorant who doesn’t know how to apply her stuff? What if that doesn’t work for me/my skin/my facial features? Techniques are just that: possible ways to do things. Not rules that can’t be broken.

    On the other hand, this trend that I otherwise deplore has pushed me to try some techniques and products I would probably not have looked into. I’m not using them the way the Instagram influencers tell you to, but I make them work for me. For example: higher coverage foundation was something I shied away from before, but I’ve tried a lot and found some that look good on my skin. Now I appreciate that they really hide my redness issues. I’ve also discovered some really pretty highlighters.

    So I guess the Insta-beauty can be inspiring for me as well. Still, I will breathe a sigh of relief when the trend eventually turns away from extreme everything to more natural, fresh-faced looks that embrace personality. I hope it happens soon.
    Lulle recently posted … #FrenchFriday : Guerlain Meteorites Perles de Legende for Holiday 2016 – 1st Impressions

  9. Liliana says:

    Being in my mid 30s, I like looking at the fancy glossy pictures and can appreciate them for their own beauty and artistry. But for day-to-day life I like seeing people that are like me. I don’t have a lot of time for make up because I have family things, work, life etc., I’m not 19 years old anymore with so much time on my hands to do all these crazy looks. So I appreciate your type of posts. Plus there aren’t that many bloggers with my skin tone so one more reason why I love you

  10. Chris25 says:

    Lulle basically said a lot of what I think. To add my makeup artist experience into this, Instagram makeup has evolved into a beauty standard, and I think this is where problems arise. It can be fun to gain inspiration from the pics, but a lot of people starting out in makeup see that and think it’s the norm when it is definitely not. Instagram makeup needs not be the beauty standard. It should be just one example of beauty application out of several examples.

    I also have a problem with people heavily Photoshopping their pics. It defeats the purpose of doing all that makeup because no one gets to see what the makeup actually looks like. Don’t tell me a concealer is great when you won’t even show me what it can do.
    Chris25 recently posted … Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bons Eyeshadow Palette Swatches

  11. Indya says:

    Heya Karen,

    There are only a few people I follow that I get inspiration from on instagram, although I follow a lot of accounts (makes me think I should get rid of those I don’t get inspiration from) but any-who! I would say it’s more exhausting than inspiring between the photoshopped-to-death photos and the awful comments. I do love the photography, parody, and animal accounts I follow, though!

  12. Robyn says:

    I’m torn with it, too. I do like the looks and have been trying to practice, but as a mom of 2 young kids I just don’t have a lot of time. I like it more as a “here are some ideas of how you can do your makeup” rather than “here’s THE way makeup should be done.” I’ve been wanting to blog and do YouTube but haven’t been consistent about it partly because I’ve been struggling with my mind of how I want to balance it with my direct sales business, but also because it seems like people want those super beat faces. Seeing this gives me desire to give it a go! It sounds like people want more of the “real life” women in mid 30s type of beauty posts out there. I’m so glad I discovered your blog. <3

  13. Kalli says:

    I’m of the same thought of the girl you mentioned – I get ideas and inspiration, but it really is too much and it’s not based in real life. Sometimes the pictures are so photoshopped and filtered, that the women in the pictures don’t even look human anymore. It can be really disconcerting. I wish some would show a little more variety, some accounts I’ve seen and it’s literally the same shot/look over and over, just with a different lip color or eyeshadow!
    Kalli recently posted … Influenster Review: Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid Matte Liquid Lipsticks

  14. Nati says:

    Those Instagram accounts of people 30-40 with real makeup looks, sometimes fancy, sometimes less so, not edited, not perfect, but pretty in their own way… THOSE EXIST!! I’m shameless coming here to make blatant self-promotion, my own IG account is exactly like this. I do not have professional lighting for my photos, and I am not a professional makeup artist, I am not perfect (in any way) and I do not edit my pictures (apart from some slight light correction when is terribly gloomy as I only use natural light). As I say I embrace my imperfection and try to beautify it instead of photoshop it. Which is what I think is right. Of course, to each their own, every person has the right to feel or to think what they want and do their makeup how they want. I just want to pass my own message through my IG account! We are real women, with real life and real problems. Ok, we all have good and harsh times and we can’t be ALWAYS great!! That’s too oppressing for any gal, and it is around 30 that you actually get it! So yes, it takes a little growing up (usually maternity kicks you in the butt into it, no matter what’s your age) and one starts being more indulgent, appreciating the things how they are, especially our own appearance!
    So, yes, I agree with the idea you’re expressing and if you believe in what you said, maybe you could list the IG gals with this kind of profile and share the love!! πŸ˜‰ β™₯ β™₯ β™₯
    Nati recently posted … Preview β”‚OPI Launches Breakfast at Tiffany’s Collection for Holidays 2016

  15. J says:

    I like Instagram for seeing what certain products look like on the face, even to get ideas for my own makeup – but generally I do not think that level of makeup is appealing. I think it’s a good form of creativity, great for editorials, just not great for real life. I also don’t understand why people with good skin would want to cover it up with full coverage foundation!

  16. Tatiana says:

    Oh gosh, I am so old. I don’t even have an Instagram account or follow anyone. The looks I’ve seen from Instagram all look so similar. All these girls have huge eyes, with deep eye sockets. I have little, tiny, squinty eyes with heavily hooded lids. Not much room to do a multi-color look. At my age I’ve had to figure out a certain way of applying my color to try and make my eyes look more open and lifted.
    So no, I’m not inspired by Instagram. Sorry, not sorry.
    I do love to watch demos and tutorials on YouTube though. Mostly because the gals I watch have such sweet personalities. They’re folks I would want to get to know in person. BTW, if you ever have time again, I will be looking for YouTube videos from you.
    Just a reminder… You won’t always have spit up on your clothes and you will get more sleep again and when Connor Claire starts school you will find yourself with more time again (that is until you start driving her and her friends around to all their after school activities).

  17. Christine says:

    Exhausting in its detachment from reality. I prefer YouTube over Instagram because I find Instagram too contrived, too filtered, too uninspiring. If I seek true inspiration, I’ll watch artists like Jordan Hanz (professional body painter, special effects, beauty) because it’s the extremes, and the techniques used to get there, that are more useful for a 45-yo-day-job-person-who-performs-on-the-side such as myself.
    I watched a video by another Jordan (Jordan Liberty), a beauty/fashion MUA who actually attempted to use IG techniques to his models and the results were mixed. I prefer the subtlety and adaptability of high fashion makeup over IG.
    Great question, Karen!

  18. Heather L. says:

    Alas that is one of the reasons I am running my own beauty site. The products that work for people who look like supermodels do not necessarily work for the rest of us! I wanted to cater to “the rest of us.” I don’t like to give my age, but I have two sets of twins so you can probably imagine, and I appreciate products that offer solutions to imperfections, and vloggers and bloggers I can relate to. I still enjoy the other posts too, but they are definitely less practical and often less helpful. And given my busy lifestyle, the time I can devote to Instagram is limited so I have to prioritize! My kitty Shakespeare says he doesn’t have that problem though – he is a supermodel!(and he can relate to supermodel Tabs!)

  19. Rebecca says:

    I don’t care for IG makeup at all. I know how it looks in person minus all those filters, and to me good makeup means it looks good in person–not like a pound of makeup using 20 products. I don’t think it gives young girls a good idea of how to do their makeup. All those lines and harsh amounts of color. There is freedom of expression and then is copying what everyone else is doing. IG and Youtube are the worst for that.

  20. Katie says:

    I’m not a big fan of the looks that are popular on Instagram right now, but I like seeing the products that people have used to get a certain highlight, eyeshadow look, etc. It all starts to look the same after a while to me.

  21. Jessica says:

    I really follow 2 beauty blogs- yours and Melissa’s…I’m pretty full up with painting and art stuff.

    Instragram etc is ok I guess, but I need to take frequent breaks from ALL social media because it is visually assaulting and my brain gets overwhelmed and then I can’t paint. Our brains aren’t meant to handle so much visual information at the current pace. It is exhausting.

    I do the majority of my living offline with real people.
    And all these girls are in their 20s which I don’t relate to at all, because I’m at a different life stage and my 20s were just so vastly different than their lives today.
    Jessica recently posted … I might be wrong but…..

  22. Suzanne C says:

    You may have barf on your t-shirt, but you’ve got your very own built-in girl squad. πŸ˜‰

    I have no idea what this Instagram Beauty is. My niece asked me if I have an Instagram account yesterday. I said I did, but it had been so long since I logged on that I wasn’t sure if they had deleted my account from inactivity.

  23. Insta-beauty is at the opposite end of the spectrum of the makeup style I like.
    My ultimate beauty inspiration is Lisa Eldridge. I love her pinpoint concealing technique where skin always looks like real skin and just how well-balanced and natural her makeup looks, even when she uses blue lipstick or green eyeshadow.
    Carolina Braina recently posted … Yase Cosmetics: My First Experience With Skincare So Natural It Needs to Be Kept in the Fridge

  24. Pj says:

    If I’m being completely honest, I find IG beauty exhausting.

    I don’t doubt that it takes skill to apply makeup in that manner, but we’ve moved towards this trend of people looking like dead-eyed mannequins. I find it kind of disturbing how everyone is starting to look the same and I worry how it will be perceived by the younger generation who grow up thinking this is the norm.

    This is why I prefer to follow people like you, Karen. You’re beautiful and do makeup exquisitely, but you always look real. There is life and personality in your photos 😊

  25. Erin says:

    It’s both for me. Honestly, I’m tired of cake face and insta-brows though. I never use really editing on pics. I’ll use a filter or or if it goes on my blog, I’ll edit out this dark scar on my chin that looks like a weird makeup gaffe in most pics that’s barely there in real life. I feel we need to start accepting ourselves more and airbrushing less.
    Erin recently posted … Grifone Organic Pinot Grigio

  26. Rachel R. says:

    I could never really get into Instagram as a platform for anything. I prefer Pinterest. I am not personally fond of the over-photoshopped, over-contoured, “Instagram face,” personally. I think it’s too heavy of a look for the real world, and it’s unattainable without photo filters. But to each his or her own, you know?

  27. Paris B says:

    Hey Karen, it’s so good to see you back and juggling so many things with baby in tow too. Now that’s something to aspire to, not a perfectly made up face on Instagram haha! I honestly am in the exhausting camp. I’m tired of the perfection displayed on Instagram and the pretty much obvious push to buy more, spend more to achieve that perfect life. Honestly, I’m too old for all that LOL! The accounts I follow most are my friends and those relating to food. Now food, I can get behind πŸ˜€
    Paris B recently posted … Except for the Chanel Rouge Allure Gloss in Pirate, I’ve made my other glosses walk the plank

  28. Angie says:

    I don’t follow any IG beauty accounts. I used to watch youtube videos quite a bit, though. I loved the way it all came together on camera, the lighting, the editing and watching the technique. When I tried it on myself, I felt stupid for ever thinking it would be remotely the same. The amount of makeup used and the techniques were just too much for me – I’m in my 40s and there is no way I would leave the house, let alone leave my bathroom looking the way I did. I still liked watching youtube and even insta tutorials, much like the way I liked watching cartoons when I was a kid. I’m not being disrespectful here, I could fall down a rabbit hole just watching them. The process and the perfection of the end result is fascinating to me. I know it’s not real so I can enjoy the over-the-topness of it all.

    I’ve stopped watching most tutorials except for Wayne Goss, Lisa Eldridge and Pixiwoo (although Sam and Nic are starting to go the way of “look at me please, please look at me try to be sexy and ducklip”) because what started bothering me is the narcissism behind it all. I can’t stand watching the 3 minutes of someone trying to eyef*ck the camera and fake-laugh or fake-oh-hi-didn’t-see-you-there or fake-oh-my-gosh-I’m-so-excited looks before or after the tutorial. Also the videos (the “new product” or “reviews of monthly favorite”) where they are constantly stealing glances to look at the monitor to fix their hair while they are talking to you, instead of getting all that squared away before they start recording really irk me too. How much attention do you need and why do you need to keep checking yourself? Didn’t you just set everything before you started recording?!? It’s like having someone in your group of friends that is always checking their makeup or the whole time you are out together, they want to sit where they can see their reflection and are constantly angling a certain way because they’re certain someone is watching. Lisa Eldridge and Wayne Goss do it right – turning to each side and then center (with a neutral expression) is just fine and takes about 8 seconds. Don’t embarrass yourself by making stupid fake expression faces just so you can have an excuse to record yourself for 30 more seconds. It’s needy and exhausting.

  29. laura says:

    What an interesting topic to discuss!
    I honestly had no IG account until a month ago. But then I thought “ok why the hell not?”. I hate social media but I dived head first into this one.
    Mostly I just like stalking celebrities and keeping up with my favorite nail polish brands.
    But I see what the problem is with the beauty images you are talking about. Who has time to do that on a daily basis? NO ONE.
    I agree with a lot of people here. I wear a ton of makeup and I love playing with it. But I have a job and life just gets in the way AND I don’t wanna look fake. Girls at the office are already thinking I am “weird” with all my highlight and smokey eye.
    Those beauty pictures on IG are just overdone. And they don’t make me wanna look like that. Just have a look at kylie jenner photo on a sunday. Who puts that much on on a sunday? Come on that’s just so not real. Where ‘s her real face? Miles underneath?
    Do I get inspiration from those images? Yes but no, they are pretty to look at though. Do I wanna do that on me? Not really. I hate contouring. I have been over the winged liner for years. And don’t get me started on the nose highlighting.

    Real life people know best.

  30. Mickey says:

    Hi Karen! Awesome topic! I am an Instagrammer as well as a Beauty Blogger, but I do find that Instagram beauty at times isn’t realistic to what people wear in real life. We hear it all the time on You Tube, how vloggers don’t often wear that much make up. One time, I accidentally was trying out some make up and added too much blush. In real life, I’d look like a clown. However, on instagram, surprisingly, it looked great. It made me realize that as pretty and beautiful instagram pix may be, it’s slightly unrealistic. It’s why as a beauty blogger, I like 15 minute make up, why I do 5 on 5 make up series, or others that do natural make up that’s not overdone that may look plain jane to some by it’s real at least to me and others. I love instagram for new products and alerts on what people use as make up combos, but instagram beauty and all the pictures out there, if there are real pictures of women who use make up realistically, I’m down for that. πŸ™‚

  31. Kim says:

    I’m not a fan of social media in general and don’t have instagram. I totally understand why some people love it, though. I am familiar with the instagram makeup that you’re referencing and I think it looks awesome. It’s way too time consuming for me to do myself but I definitely appreciate it on others. That said, I only see it rarely; I’d probably be tired of it, too, if I was being constantly bombarded. πŸ™‚

  32. Vanessa says:

    Karen, are you kidding me? I’d much rather see your real glam makeup looks, which are the most beautiful in my book (no jokes) and totally inspire me. That’s why I follow specific blogs.

    Some people like that particular trendy look and that’s cool for them. But I feel way more creative and magical (the point of makeup to me) with you guys.

    I’m 27 and I’ve been creeping on you pretty much since the beginning, before bloglovin, when I would just type in your url. Heck, I still do that most of the time. Back then, I’d hide my makeup love because I thought it made me a sissy. We’ve come so far. Cheers, girlfriend! XD

  33. mandy says:

    Oooh everythong Lulle said! I don’t follow these glam IG/YT’ers. I can’t relate to them tbh. I’m 40 and my life is probably very different from theires. I prefer “real life everyday makeup looks and reviews with the occational datenight/going out for dinner/party etc.look” I just cannot deal with all the extreme contouring, baking, strobing and highlighting. It looks beautiful and amazing on screen and in pictures, but ridiculous in real life while picking up your kids from school! In my case “less is more”
    And can they please stop with the “tip of the nose highlight”?! In 10/20 years people will look at old foto’s and laugh at how they did their highlight, just like the “how i did my makeup in highschool” tag that’s going around YT now hahaha!;D

  34. Steffanie says:

    This is exactly how I feel! I’ve loved beauty and makeup probably since I was a fetus and although I love seeing the (mildly edited/not super edited) InstaGLAM looks, it’s not realistic for most. I personally created MY beauty blog to inspire and advise the everyday person to look and feel her best. The makeup looks I tend to do are wearable – even if they’re more dramatic – because that’s what I know my real life friends, coworkers and family would wear (if they knew how, had the right products, knew it was worth the $, etc). I think BOTH makeup worlds can exist because it’s important to be creative, but I definitely don’t believe people should feel they have to choose one style or another. Both are beautiful in their own ways and both can serve a purpose and audience. πŸ™‚ Thanks for bringing this up, Karen! <3
    Steffanie recently posted … September 2016 Beauty Favorites

  35. doroffee says:

    I’m having kind of mixed feelings. On the one hand, I do enjoy art and I see make-up as art. I love looking at nicely made up faces.

    But, on the other hand, it distorts beauty standards and expectations a lot. What I see most of the time is the following:
    – the pictures are filtered and retouched to a level when they do not even resemble the starting point, and who knows which product looks nice because of the lighting and the filter, and which is actually good… especially as more and more companies sponsor even Insta make-up artists. Or, the other thing, they alter their appearances so much that all of them are these Kylie Jenner clones with big lips… when in reality they might have thin lips overdrawn, which is only not visible because of the blurry effects and the filters.
    – a lot of the times, even for the professionals, these oh-so-perfect face looks need a) a lot of time, b) certain types and shapes of face, eyes to look like that they look in the picture. It is really devastating when you realize you cannot look like this, and not everyone understands the reasons… they are going to think that they suck at make-up or ugly, just because they only have 5-10 minutes at home to do make-up in the morning (when, with a lot of editing, speeding and jumping around, even for pros, it is at least 15 minutes, when I see Youtube… if not a lot more), or if they do not have a certain shape of face, a certain shape of eyes, they do not have more prevalent cheekbones, they have thin lips.

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