Social Experiment: Street Makeup Mistakes


Don’t you hate it when you look in the mirror and notice smudged eye liner, food on your face, messy hair, or a huge dab of bright lipstick on your teeth? You might get annoyed that no one bothered to say anything, but if you detected a makeup mishap on a stranger, would you really speak up? During the past year, I’ve learned a lot about human behavior through my social experiments, and how strangers react to the unusual. When I’m rocking saturated hair, or purple brows, they have no problem voicing their point of view. But a common makeup blunder? That’s a gray area.

I see a few recurring characters in my day-to-day grind, and figured that a familiar face would be brave and kind enough to break the barrier and tell me what a fool I look like, smiling ear to ear with purple lip color all over my front teeth. I must admit, I’ve seen strangers with less-than-perfect makeup, and haven’t bothered to tell them for fear of embarrassment. Heading into this experiment, I already doubted whether anyone would even notice. Well—people did, and their reclusive reactions surprised me even more!

In the course of two days I encountered nine individuals (seven of them male). I intentionally met a girlfriend for lunch, and after speaking for a few minutes I exclaimed in shock, “Why aren’t you telling me I have lipstick on my teeth?!” She responded, “Oh I didn’t really notice, sorry.” Then, at the grocery store as I was paying for my breakfast, a man asked if I needed any help. I kindly informed him that I was just fine and flashed my bright white (and violet) chompers, to which he put his head down and quickly walked back to his station. As I walked out of the grocery store, I boasted a pleasant “have a great day!” and gave him another genuine grin only to see that he waved his hand in response and kept his head low. Later, taking a break from work with my colleagues, I headed over to the coffee shop. I asked the barista for a water and she stared at my face, puzzled. Her reaction was quite different than the males during the day. There was less apprehension, and more of a sense of comradery about the situation as if she had been in my shoes before—but I found it strange that she didn’t say a word. In general, most people seemed to internalize their embarrassment for me through lack of eye contact and curt, dismissive conversation. I’m afraid there’s only one answer to this dilemma: Check your teeth before you head out the door, and check them well! And for good beauty karma, rather than ignore the next person you see with food in their teeth, pluck up enough courage and save them from even more mistakes—wouldn’t you appreciate it, too?

Have you ever been told you have something wrong with your makeup today? Let us know in the comments below!