I’,ve always been super into makeup. I have a carefully curated collection worth about $3,000, the result of nearly five years of hoarding pretty pieces (ooh, another eyeliner…,add it to the nest!). But my passion extends beyond discovering new products or attempting the latest trends. I could spend hours researching the history behind certain looks. I beauty makeup.
Not everyone shares my fascination, though, and certainly not my close friends. When I go on about makeup, it’s at them rather than with them. So you can imagine how I felt when I stumbled onto Reddit, the Internet’s most popular discussion forum, and discovered that the 26th most visited website in the world has some of the nichiest digital communities dedicated to beauty I’d come across on the web.
For the uninitiated, entries on Reddit are categorized and divided into areas of interest (a.k.a. subreddits). Redditors post links, questions or images within a specific subreddit, and based on interest among other users, they’re either upvoted to prominence or downvoted into relative oblivion. There are almost a million subreddits, and a small but active fraction of those are dedicated to beauty. The most bustling beauty forum, /r/MakeupAddiction, was created six years ago and now counts more than 320,000 subscribers, each with incredibly strong opinions on eyebrows.
I joined /r/MakeupAddiction four years ago, but I’ve logged on practically every day since because it was there that I found my lipstick-obsessed people. Well, sort of. Much like any corner of the Internet where folks can comment anonymously, beauty subreddits are a bit of a paradox. They can be supportive, yet hostile. They’re filled with some great people and some truly terrible people. But even on their worst day, beauty subreddits offer something you can’t often find on platforms like Instagram or Twitter, or even websites dedicated to beauty: open, accessible discussions, some of which can be pretty thoughtful. I remember how awesome it felt the first time I posted something that resonated with my subreddit community. I’d asked the group to name their first makeup purchase. It sparked a multi-generational dialogue with people calling out products from way back in the ’90s to as recent as 2010. We may all be anonymous,but here was my beauty tribe at last.
If you’re ready to join the legions of Redditors, you’ve got to abide by the right Reddiquette to make the most of it. Here’s my best tips.
Even once you’ve identified your niche (see below), it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out where to begin. Organize posts by clicking the option to see the top posts of “All Time” or the “Past 24 Hours,” or just choose “New” and start scrolling. By reading posts with the most upvotes, you’ll gain insights into different subjects and what the group’s interested in these days. It’ll feel like eavesdropping at first because many posts are strangely intimate. Go ahead and lurk. I’ve learned a lot by perusing topics foreign to me, like how to navigate makeup while transitioning. Plus, it’s heartening to witness strangers troubleshooting problems together to improve a look. In 2014, a Canadian makeup artist posted a tutorial on how to do halo eyes. It gave a basically unknown look a lot of prominence and prompted Redditors to post their own takes on the technique, which involves strategically blending very light and dark eyeshadows on upper and lower lids to make eyes appear larger and rounder. A trend was born—and Reddit allowed it to grow organically.
One of my most popular posts was actually a response to someone’s attempt at a 1920s flapper look. She had used liquid eyeliner and lipstick—neither of which were really around back in the ’20s, so I decided to read up on the actual history and write an informed response. People loved it because they were learning something new. Plus, it was a chance for me to share my interests with a highly receptive audience. I actually credit Reddit with launching my career as a beauty writer because of posts like that.
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Makeup as a community activity is way more fun. I don’t know many people who can wear helix eyeliner to work (think: winged liner that looks 3D with a colourful DNA-inspired twisted ladder), but on Reddit, anything goes. You can test out—and show off—truly experimental looks and receive constructive criticism. Or someone might just encourage you to try a warmer shade of lipstick, or suggest a different colour of eyebrow pomade. For the most part, comments are helpful and nice. Make sure you post raw photos, excessive photo editing is not permitted and will get called out.
The glut of posts can frustrate even the most experienced user trying to be heard against the din. If your post is overlooked, don’t share it again. That kind of attention grabbing is frowned upon. Instead, I’ve found that the stuff that performs well tends to be honest reviews, interesting topical discussions—one recent chat involved crowdsourcing current beauty products that could feasibly be deemed classics in the future—or historical tidbits, like how trends from different decades influence today’s looks. Time your posts, too: peak hours are midday during your lunch break and in the early evening, when people are getting ready to go out.
DON’T BRAG ABOUT WHAT’S IN YOUR MAKEUP BAG
When something gets popular on Reddit, it’s easy to fall for the hype and just buy it because the recommendation feels authentic. People love to share what they’ve recently purchased, those posts are generally well received. But I’ve seen some crazy hauls posted, with people listing 30 or so products they just bought, and the response isn’t as kind. Heavy cosmetic consumerism is met with heated commentary, often in ALL CAPS. In what’s now known as the Makeup Room Incident, users lost their minds after one woman shared pics of her mammoth collection that, yes, required its own room.
Posters are discouraged from saying things like “You look better without makeup,” or giving unsolicited acne advice. Still, comment threads can get ugly, and I’ve seen users lash out at posters earnestly trying to draw attention to important topics like cultural appropriation or issues faced by marginalized communities. After posting my review of a new Christian Louboutin lipstick (spoiler alert: it was nothing special), one commenter wanted to make sure that I knew my lips looked “weird” and that I should do “lip exercises” (sure, buddy). Remarks like that can hurt, especially after you’ve taken a risk and shared. My best advice: ignore it, or move on to a new subreddit. Lately, I’ve found that smaller, text-only beauty forums focus more on products and less on the people posting—and that’s more my speed.
There’s a beauty subreddit for everyone, but one of Reddit’s flaws is its useless search function. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular subreddits
/r/MakeupAddiction: An endless makeup convention, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Usual posts consist of daily makeup looks and product reviews. More sensitive topics, like foundation shades to suit all skin tones, pop up with some frequency. Most users are kind, others dive into fights, coffin nails at the ready.
/r/SkincareAddiction: For everything skin related, with a focus on reviews. Buyer beware: you’ll also find people playing
Dr. Unlicensed Dermatologist, proffering haphazard diagnoses.
/r/AsianBeauty: New discoveries in Korean and Japanese brands before they come to Canada. Posters here are incredibly helpful and *really* into sheet masks.
/r/RedditLaqueristas: For nail polish enthusiasts and looky-loos (like me) who can’t paint their nails whatsoever but love nail art. Handy tutorials are available, although popular posts tend to focus more on impressive after pics, rather than how-tos!
/r/IndieMakeupandMore: For those on the hunt for unique small-run makeup and perfume brands that you won’t find in Sephora or Shoppers Drug Mart. It’s historically rife with minor dramas (so grab some popcorn), mostly when company owners try to interact with posters one on one, as if they’re customers.
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/r/BrownBeauty: A space for people of colour to discuss makeup in an environment that’s not predominantly white. It has a smaller active user base, so it can appear empty at times, but it does support quality conversations about navigating different shades of makeup—something often overlooked in larger subreddit communities.
/r/Sugarfreemua: Mua is the short form of makeup addiction, BTW. For people who want constructive criticism on their look, rather than the standard “YASS KWEEN.” Polite yet firm (and rarely mean-spirited), like your aunt after a few sherries.
/r/Muacirclejerk: A real-life Mean Girls burn book, where /r/MakeupAddiction posts are mocked. Generally funny when users zone in on general trends (like a takedown of endless posts about Halloween deer makeup), but occasionally it’s just folks being jerks because they can. My advice: approach with caution.
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