Comedian Nikki Glaser Has a Complicated Relationship With Makeup

Old-school beauty standards don't sit well with the standup stunner, but it seems like she is stuck with them for now. 

Nikki Glaser
Photo: Luke Fontana

Let me be clear: I resent feeling the need to wear makeup. Since I work in an industry that rewards physical beauty — especially women’s — I simply must have a beauty routine. But I’ve got other things to do, so I’m not letting the drill take up too much of my time.

During the week my schedule is tight. I go from filming my daily radio show in the morning to working on my new E! show, Nikki Glaser Is Obsessed, to writing things like this and trying to see a therapist every now and then. At night I do a couple of sets somewhere, like the Comedy Cellar. Then on weekends I travel the country for my Bang It Out stand-up tour, and I’m back in New York by Sunday night. So when it comes to beauty, I prioritize the two things that I can do as a pasty, overworked, dry-skinned, acne-prone, frizzy-haired basic bitch to elevate my hotness. No. 1 is get a spray tan. I hate to say it, but when I look tan, I genuinely feel more deserving of love. It covers up my acne scars, my uneven skin tone, and the bags under my eyes like nothing else. I go dark, which, I’ll be honest, by the third day makes me look like a lizard shedding its skin. But even then I’d rather look reptilian than unlovable.

The second way I go up at least three points on the hotness scale is by accentuating my lashes. Mascara is an obvious essential, but false lashes are a game changer. Every woman on TV wears falsies. If you don’t, you look like the only other people on camera who don’t wear them: men. Eyelash serum also helps give me length. I think it’s ruining my eyesight, so although I can’t always see through the blurry haze, I hear my lashes are incredible.

Nikki Glaser
Glaser onstage in St. Louis. Photo: Courtesy Nikki Glaser

As for the rest of my face, I like to get my eyebrows tinted to avoid the time suck of having to fill them in. I go really dark on those too, since the color fades fast. I usually look like Charlie Chaplin the first day, but by Day 2 I’m feelin’ like Rooney Mara, baby!

Lately, I’ve gotten my whole makeup routine down to such a science that I can look stage-ready in about five minutes. It wasn’t always this way. I used to devote so much energy to my eye makeup alone. But spending $90 on three different brushes and a palette of 78 colors to paint a Parisian landscape on an area the size of a postage stamp is a waste of my time, money, and talent.

The conundrum is that makeup works. It makes you look better. And when you look better, people treat you better. And that feels nice! It’s hard to opt out. Even though I’m a comedian and I pride myself on my sense of humor and ability to connect with others through my material, there’s still a major part of me that feels like, “Well, if I don’t wear makeup, will I be attractive? And if I’m not attractive, will anyone pay attention?” I guess I’ll find out with age.

I do know that there will be a day when I won’t feel the need to wear makeup — and that’s the day I die. Just kidding! They put makeup on you for your funeral, so even after death you can’t escape it. Truthfully, as much as I sometimes resent being a woman in this patriarchal, superficial world, I do believe that we are incredible. I’m so damn proud of us. We have the added pressure to look a certain way. We spend time doing all these extra things that men do not have to do. And we are killing it. In reality, guys don’t get mad if you aren’t wearing makeup. They won’t be like, “Put on some rouge!” And listen, if a man is going to love me based on my makeup, then he’ll probably leave me anyway because I can’t keep this shit up forever.

This article was written as part of our May issue, and went to print before the coronavirus social-distancing guidelines went into place. Nikki Glaser's tour has been rescheduled. For more stories like this, pick up the May issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download April 17.

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