Are "Back To School" Make-Up Tutorials Damaging?

1 September 2015, 11:58 | Updated: 17 July 2017, 12:11

We the Unicorns

By Hollie-Anne Brooks

It’s the first week back to school for most teens in the UK and this weekend, by no coincidence, we saw an influx of a particular type of video land in our subs box. “Back To School” make-up tutorials have been a staple video in the lifestyle vlogging calendar since YouTube began. In the UK, at least, these videos are guaranteed hits for the big name creators as pupils try and push the bounderies of often strict dress codes.

In an age where we’re fighting between constantly being Snapchat ready and showing the world our true selves, are these videos actually harmful to teens’ self esteem?

Whilst creators often state their back to school make-up tutorials are “natural”, we frequently see layers of foundation, powder and contour that certainly can’t be done on the back of the school bus. Brow pencils and gels, lipliners to get the Kylie Jenner look… Has the YouTube beauty world lost the idea of creating a personal identity? Without making us sound ancient, we remember our schooldays where goths applied lashings of black liner in the toilets at break time and another sub-set of classmates whacked on orange foundation and popped in gold hoops a la Lily Allen. Whilst we all wore make-up, we were encouraged by the fact we all had a sense of personal identity and looked different. We look to YouTube now and see yet another gold eye, nude lip and bronzed look.

Of course, most schools in the UK are strict when it comes to wearing make-up but we all know we sneak in a lipgloss in our pencil case and never leave the house without three layers of mascara, it’s a routine pretty much every woman (and some men) will see themselves doing for the rest of their lives. When we did a quick, scientific* poll of whether make-up was allowed in schools, the resounding answer was no but we all wear it anyway. But should we be encouraging young people to spend 20 minutes on a morning perfecting their brow routine? Just so they can look like everyone else?

On the flip side, make-up is a form of confidence. At an age where acne is running wild, a mean comment from a cyber bully is only one click away and we’re constantly trying to impress, several swipes of Collection Lasting Perfection concealer can be a Godsend. Whatever it takes to feel comfortable and happy within oneself should be encouraged and this is why we’re firm believers in the power of make-up and actively fight against the concept that having an interest in cosmetics is highly superficial. We’d just like to see a little point of difference in each of these tutorials.

“I think in some cases “Back to School” make-up tutorials can put pressure on students to look perfect, especially when using ridiculous amounts of product. I believe that you don't need to be wearing a face full of make-up…I know a lot of girls feel pressured because of covering up break-outs and things like acne, but it's all natural” says 15 year old Tolly, of fashion blog Tolly Dolly Posh. “It would be nice to see a good balance between confidence boosting videos, and videos that promote creativity within make-up, rather than "How To Cover-Up Blemishes" etc.”.

Join in the debate- do you think these tutorials are harmless fun or put further pressure on young people to look perfect? Tweet us at @WeTheUnicorns

*We asked out friends on Facebook.