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Makeup Wearing

Updated: Dec 30, 2019

An ethnography research on make up using the method "AEIOU".

AEIOU is a research method for understanding the world through observing and documenting the activities, environments, interactions, objects, users, and emotions (“Y”) that comprise a situation. This research used this framework to create a comprehensive study of one of our routine -- Wearing makeup for students.


Research Goal and Method

During this research, I am curious about the question:

What motivate people to wear makeup?

To answer this question, I used the "AEIOU" Shotlist and Observation Guide to plan and organize my study.

Research Toolkit


How do people wear makeup?

Going out to the field, I studied Yvonne and Zoe's makeup behaviors to understand how do they wear makeup and why.

Here is Yvonne's makeup study

The area for skin care, making up, and dressing in Yvonne's living room

She arranged this area near her wardrobe for making up. With all tools in front of her, she can easily get access to them to quickly wear makeup. She has different section for different tools but this area is not perfectly organized because she rarely gets time to organize them during weekdays.

Then she starts with skin care before making up.

She is always in hurry during the process to avoid getting late. After repeating the same process day by day, she can complete everything in a fast speed by following the same route and steps.


Yvonne usually keeps her makeup to the minimal steps that can make her look good but will not consume too much time.

The first step is always applying foundation. She pays more attention here because foundation plays a key role in setting make up for the whole day.

She uses eyeshadow to apply eyebrow because the color match her hair. After this, she chooses colors match the clothes she plans to wear and apply them for eyeshadow.

If she still have sufficient time, she might use mascara, bronzer, highlighter to polish her makeup.

When it comes to the end, she always sets her makeup with finishing powder.

If she gets time or is in the mood, she will apply lipstick.

Finally, she is all set.

After making up


Here is Zoe's makeup study

Zoe has all her tools and cosmetics on this desktop. This is her makeup and entertainment area.

She started off washing beauty blenders to get the essential tool ready. Her moves are fluid and skilled.

She wears contact before starting making up. It takes her less than one minute.

Then Zoe starts applying concealer and foundation using beauty blenders.

Before applying eyeshadow, Zoes sticks double eyelid stickers, and then applies makeup for eyes and eyebrow. Her fingers collaborate well to hold, move, and stick stickers.

Before applying eyeshadow, she cleans her brush on tissue to remove left powder from the last time.

Then she uses blusher to add color on her check. And she applies highlighter on eye crease and check.

She already formed many tips which can help her streamline the process.

If she still has enough time, she will apply eyeliner. Before using the pencil eyeliner, she utilized the tissue to remove dust left on the pencil.

At the end, she folds the multifunctional tissue and throws it into trash can. And then switched off the light on her mirror.

At the very end, she applies the lip balm and lipstick on another table. And then checking in front of full-length mirror to ensure her outlook is ready to go.


Making up is a routine to please yourself

Yvonne and Zoe are both graduate student, sometimes they get busy on their academics, some other times, they have more flexible time. For them, making up is not a luxury nor necessity, but just a way to refresh, relax and present a better look.

Although there are many steps during making up, they are able to complete them while skipping some and end up spending a short amount of time on making up. They built they own efficient way to wear the makeup that suits their needs.

I used AEIOU board to record and classify observations and information about Activities, Environments, Interactions, Objects, and Users during Yvonne and Zoe's makeup process.

AEIOU board

Here are my key findings after studying Yvonne and Zoe's makeup process.

1. They all have fixed steps and sequences during wearing makeup to ensure they can complete it on time.

2. When makeup became a habit they repeat a lot, they do not think about making up during making up.

3. They strive for balancing beauty and efficiency.

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