Modern Witches Share the Powerful Link Between Makeup and Magic

Believe it or not, beauty products have the power to cast quite the spell.

Makeup, at its foundation, is simply meant for altering or enhancing your appearance. But any beauty devotee knows that it holds a much deeper meaning than its intended purpose, as it not only has the power to change your mood but unleash an unexplainable force inside of you.

The same can be said about witchcraft.

And if that sounds like hocus pocus, it’s actually quite the contrary, as a few modern-day witches explained to E! News just how closely the craft is connected to cosmetics. From glamour spells to contemporary beauty routines acting as rituals, the two practices complement each other like a sharp wing and bold red lip.

“Makeup and magick are meant to transform,” Sacred Sex author Gabriela Herstik exclusively told E! News, noting the spelling of ‘magick’ was popularized by Aleister Crowley and is used to differentiate stage magic from the spiritual practice. “Magick transforms you from the inside out and makeup transforms you from the outside in.”

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Herstik, who began practicing witchcraft after receiving a deck of Faery oracle cards in the sixth grade, further explained the similarities between the craft and cosmetics.

“Magick is all about power, bending reality, perceiving and being perceived in a certain way,” she continued. “This is true of makeup.”

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For Bri Luna of The Hoodwitch, there’s a forceful nature to face painting.

“The application of makeup is a form of creativity and creativity is a naturally occurring process in the brain,” the former professional makeup artist told E!. “You are transforming yourself, you are elevating your consciousness—Why shouldn’t you feel happy, confident or fully embodied in your vessel? That is magic!”

It’s a practice she preaches: “Self-love and confidence are the foundation of my magical practice. All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.”

Luna, who is known for tarot card readings and sharing her mystical wisdom on social media, said both acts can allow you to become “whatever and whoever you want to be.”

“Magic is infused into my beauty rituals with intention,” she said. “I love taking long baths with candles or sitting in front of my full-length mirror, playing music that helps me channel my energy into the look I’m creating.”

She continued, “I have a large lucite statue of the goddess Venus on my vanity, and she reminds me that there is power in self-love, adornment and self-worship. It’s very empowering.”

Modern Witches, Crystal Ball

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Herstik’s beauty practices are also riddled with meaning, sharing that she’ll use roses, crystals and tarot cards to inspire her routine.

“I work alongside the lunar calendar and holidays of the witch to scope out an aligned look,” she explained, “or work with color to help embody a mood or energy I’m going for. But more than anything, I use makeup intuitively and to help me align my intention of the day.”

For the days the Inner Witch author wants to feel like a sex goddess, she’ll rock red lipstick and a bold eye “to channel my inner succubus or to honor the Goddess Babalon, who I’m devoted to.”

Other times, she continued, “I want to feel sweet and Venusian, so I’ll wear bright pink lipstick and pink eyeshadow with a heart under my eye and no eyeliner. Sometimes, I’ll just wear my hair up and big black glasses when I want to be protected and unseen.”

Modern Witches, Illustration

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And while the art of makeup and magic can boost your mood for the better, it wasn’t always seen as a positive.

Both practices—which date back to ancient Egypt when the goddess Isis was worshipped for magic and healing—have had a tumultuous history, with Herstik noting that at times, “Women in power have been a threat to the patriarchy.”

“The word ‘glamour’ has its roots in witchcraft and mysticism,” she said, adding that by definition the act itself, “is something that veils what lies beneath.”

“It could have easily been construed as witchcraft to the uncanny,” Herstik continued. “Anything someone doesn’t understand or that’s labeled as ‘other’ has the potential to be demonized—and this is especially true of anything that women value or care about.”

As she reminded, “Makeup is also a very sensual experience.”

“The witch hunts and the fear of female sexuality are deeply linked,” she said, “and this is reflected in makeup, in women taking control of how they’re perceived.”

Luna, whose grandmother was a traditional Mexican spiritual healer, provided more insight as well, pointing out that “cosmetics were seen as a form of ‘trickery’ to entice men into ‘sin.'”

“Red lipstick specifically was ‘evil’ as this shade was exclusively reserved for sex workers,” she added. “Prostitution was directly associated with devil worship, which we all know is completely ridiculous. This is why I feel even more powerful whenever I apply my favorite shade of blood-red lipstick.”

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Basic Witches co-author, Jaya Saxena, whose been drawn to witchcraft for years and feels part of a longer tradition, told E! News about the serious consequences women faced if they were found guilty of altering their appearance.

“In the 1700s in America, a man could have his marriage annulled if his wife had worn cosmetics during courtship,” she emphasized of the repercussions. “There’s a patriarchal thread through the history of people thinking makeup was a disguise, that you were changing the face God gave you and that meant you were up to no good.”

Whether or not you use makeup as a form of magic, it’s undeniably linked to the ancient practice.

“Beauty is a way for us to move closer to the divine,” Herstik suggested. “Humans have always been fascinated by beauty—whether it’s in nature, cosmetics, places of worship, or art.”

So, the next time you apply your favorite lip rouge and draw your cat eye, know it’s a bewitching act and one that possesses major power.

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