Men have no clue about make-up.
Don't get me wrong. They can guess at the basics, mainly because some make-up items have convenient suffixes attached, but probably because those are also the ones you see on TV when the female protagonist slowly and sensuously dresses up. Go ahead and throw an average man a makeup-y word other than lipstick, eye-liner, mascara and watch him flounder like a sea-turtle flipped on its back.
After all, how are you supposed to guess at what a concealer or bronzer is? Closest shots will be invisibility cloaks and metal tools.
And if that wasn't bad enough, most instruments used in the making up part are dangerously deceptive. Even if we were to assume that hair-curlers and most part of a manicure box weren't once medieval torture devices, there's very little in the way of convincing anyone that hair steamers are not alien pods or doorways to the Matrix.
“I'm convinced of it,” says a man. “Those have got to be communicators to the Mother-ship, my girlfriend comes back from the salon with all sorts of crazy ideas planted in her head, just after I think I've gotten her on my side.”
Maybe it has something to do with the sheer number of beauty products and methods. If you're an average man, the highest number of self-care products in your closet is typically four: soap, shampoo, shaving kit, and a battered old Axe (because Angels Will Fall, godammit!). Once a month, when someone points out that your nails look like they might host a small kingdom of fungi, you borrow the nail-clipper from your sister and occasionally, when your girlfriend complains about how 'kyabla' you look, you'll put on some hair gel that totally misfires without the pimples to go with it. That's about it.
Whereas women, we'll quote around twenty items of facial make-up to you, and that's while ignoring the pre-make-over and post-make-over stuff, the long-term self-care products and instruments that go with it. Additionally, women will have different brands of the same cosmetic item simply because of the difference in texture and aroma, which most male brains will just not register.
Colours are also a bit of a mess-up in most male minds. “My wife told me to get her a mauve lipstick,” says a haunted looking man. “The shop-assistant showed me three shades of mauve and another five brands that all looked purple so I came home and cried myself to sleep.”
Which only goes to show how some men try. They're often successful.
“I know the difference between cleansers and face wash,” says one Kabir, with a self-satisfied grin.
Most of them, like my friend Rafi, try to go with the flow and end up saying something like this:
“Hey, aren't you supposed to be getting your eyes manicured?”
To be fair though, some women have no clear idea about make-up either. Most of them stumble through their teenage years with a vague idea of it, until boom -- they have no time to sleep, no time to shower and a presentation ahead they have to look decent for. Then they go knocking at the doors of those few friends who are apparently born with the gift of looking fabulous. Putting make-up on is no different from trying to paint on a particularly bumpy canvas, and don't anyone tell you otherwise; Lord knows how many girls have turned themselves into pandas in the process of putting on liquid eye-liner. In some ways, make-up is to guys what cars are to women -- most women don't get cars and some men don't either.
That being said, if you're a man who is out to get a lady some make-up, don't go buying it alone. Ask someone close to them to help you out, or just take along the lady in question. If you are on your own though, stick to the classics -- strawberry flavour rarely goes wrong, and is rewarding to more than just the user.