The Weird, Wonderful World Of Beauty On Reddit

Reddit, a forum site where users share links, photos, and advice, was founded about nine years ago. Since then, it has become an Internet powerhouse, garnering nearly 174 million monthly active visitors, and attracting A-list celebrities and industry insiders for its regular AMA (Ask Me Anything) series. The site bills itself as "the front page of the Internet," and calls its users "redditors." All of this is incredibly amusing to many new-media companies, considering that its minimalist design essentially mimics Craigslist — in our age of streamlined web design, Reddit looks like it was plucked from the '90s land of Angelfire and GeoCities.
The front page is a total hodge-podge — film reviews, funny videos, discussions about Kim Kardashian. Essentially, a redditor posts something or submits a link, video, or photo, and then (hopefully) engagement happens. Interaction within the community is uniquely intense, and redditors are quick to call bullshit if they sense anything that seems disingenuous or sponsored. But, any newbie to the site knows that it can be a bit, well, daunting.
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We spent some time navigating the makeup forums to see what all the hype was about, and were pleased to find that there's a whole lot of good stuff. In fact, it could be the perfect space for the very saturated, alluring world of beauty. Here's the lowdown on what you need to know.
MakeupAddiction, The Beauty Junkie's Haven
In the beauty space, we've seen the rise of the blogger and the YouTube star. This has spawned countless at-home experts — girls (and boys!) who have watched enough contouring tutorials to teach even the best makeup artist a thing or two. Many of these self-made professionals (in fact, 206,448 of them) find a home in the subreddit MakeupAddiction.
There, you'll find everything from a pretty damn spot-on how-to of Taylor Swift's makeup in the "Blank Space" video to an announcement of Tom Ford's new lipstick collection (which they managed to post before most editorial sites did). There are also countless threads of people seeking recommendations on filling in their eyebrows or applying liquid eyeliner. And, of course, there are product reviews, swatches of lipsticks and shadows, and sale announcements for the savvy shopper.
The subreddit essentially takes the term "beauty junkie" to a whole new level. Its participants are engaged with their products, passionate about what they're writing, and genuinely interested in helping their fellow redditors with skin issues, recommendations, and more. And, even though it can seem overwhelming to a beginner, there is plenty of comprehensive and thoroughly reported advice.
Case in point: An Excel spreadsheet of just about every makeup blogger worth following, sorted by skin tone and undertone, in order to help you find your beauty guru. Or, there's the handy guide of what to buy at Sephora, divided by price range — a list that would essentially yield you the same results as if you had a top-tier makeup artist next to you, selecting items for your cart. There's even a beyond epic guide for taking a selfie that will show off your makeup, including lessons in lighting, iPhone-camera resolution, and posing. Finally (and most delightfully), there are the "HG" lists, which stands for Holy Grail, of course. If you're smart (and broke), you'd be wise to check out the amazing guide to drugstore beauty products — even we were taking notes.
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Makeup Addiction has gained notoriety in the beauty community, prompting many websites to parody the more interesting threads seen there. It also inspired a rather hilarious YouTube video by Sharon Farrell, who recreated the subreddit's much-discussed "makeup pet peeves."
Some redditors pointed out in the comments that there are two additional subs worth mentioning: Indie Makeup and More and Skincare Addiction. They are, in short, exactly as they sound, and their followers are clearly very passionate.
Addressing Diversity In The World Of Beauty
A few redditors have even started subreddits that appear to be inspired by MakeupAddiction — sub-subreddits, if you will. These are more niche areas for users who may feel neglected by the typical beauty blog. There are 11,430 subscribers to Asian Beauty, which is a treasure trove of information about cutting-edge products and innovations that have yet to hit stateside. There's even a comprehensive guide to Asian skin care, which details each and every step for the ideal routine, and has an ingredients glossary and an FAQ section. On top of that, someone who clearly went to an Ivy League institution organized a list of 149 facial cleansers by pH level.
Additionally, there are almost 3,000 readers of BrownBeauty, and they have created their own "Holy Grail" list of products that work for deeper skins. They also go crazy when, say, Mindy Kaling posts a photo of her favorite foundations. This forum serves as a special space for women to talk about makeup techniques that address skin concerns unique to people of color.
And, Things Can Get Weird
Of course, this being the Internet, there is plenty of room for the bizarre. For example, a very popular thread on mortician makeup made the rounds six months ago, in which professionals chimed in on embalming tactics, how to make discolored lips look rosy and natural, using super glue to temporarily mend lacerations, and handling requests from the departed's family. There was also a rant about the racial implications of vaginal-bleaching creams, which are apparently quite popular in the Philippines. On the less disturbing side, there's the subreddit Male Polish, which is home to a whole lot of dudes who know the value of a good varnish.
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There's Major Team Spirit
The most incredible thing about makeup on Reddit is that it's a community. There's even a sub called Random Acts of Makeup, where subscribers are encouraged to "gift" a product to one another. There's the boyfriend whose girlfriend was diagnosed with arthritis, leaving her with poor eyesight and painful joints, who found an entire community of beauty addicts pointing him to products and video tutorials, in the hopes that he could eventually do her makeup for her. There's also the mom who took to Reddit for advice on how to conceal her daughter's acne scars, so going to school would be a less socially traumatizing experience. Women often engage in discussions about makeup shaming and other issues, empowering one another to make the choices about beauty that feel best. Reddit, it seems, has turned into a (mostly) safe space for the makeup lover.
It's What The Beauty World Didn't Know It Needed
In an odd way, Reddit is the perfect complement to what's already happening with beauty in the digital space. On one hand, you have candid product reviews and recommendations, which is similar to the wide world of blogging. On the other hand, you have an avenue of discussion about content that's already out there — this R29 story gained particular traction thanks to MakeupAddiction. And, finally, there's the element of open dialogue, which is something that's missing from so many beauty websites. One of the most challenging things about my job as a beauty editor is producing pieces that hit every mark. Recommending a product or a tip is, at best, a good intention — most things don't work on everybody. It's wonderful to see how the beauty fiends on Reddit challenge the status quo and, in turn, fill in the blanks. We could all stand to learn a thing or two from them.


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