Share: give or receive unsolicited beauty advice?

Just the other day, someone whom I hardly know started asking if I was feeling unwell. I was perfectly fine, just a little sleepy maybe. But this woman wouldn’t give up. She started suggesting to everyone around us that I wasn’t looking well because my face was too pale or in her words, “too white”. I smiled and turned away, not keen to pursue any further conversation with her because I didn’t want to have to retort that looking white is better than looking yellow like her.

This wasn’t a case of giving beauty advice, but it was an unsolicited remark that I did not welcome. In fact, I typically don’t appreciate people telling me what I should do to my hair or my skin unless I ask for their opinion. But many a times, I have people telling me how I should style or cut my hair and I’m like looking at theirs and wondering why I should even be listening to their comments. The worst unsolicited advice I’ve ever received so far is a lady telling me eons ago of how I should be smiling more in order to attract men!

Personally, I prefer to keep such opinions to myself unless I’m asked although there are times I feel a strong urge to walk up to perfect strangers to tell them how they can possibly deal with their acne. Well, I’ve never done it though simply because I think it’s impolite. And then there are times I wish I can tell some young people that they should take care of their personal grooming like using deodorant or a proper mouth wash. Some of them do need such advice quite badly. Again, I just can’t bring myself to do it. While I’m in a position to give them advice but bringing the matter up to all is inappropriate and singling the ones who need them would be too sensitive. However, I also remember how I appreciated a similar advice from an older colleague while I was 17 years old. It was an unsolicited advice but yet, it helped me so much and I was ever thankful to her for bringing the matter up.

So what do you think about giving or receiving unsolicited beauty or grooming advice? Is it something you would do or appreciate?


  1. A'Liah says:

    People always tell me to cut or donate my hair because I keep it long. I find it very offensive when people just come up to me and tell me how I should be ?

  2. EcoBeauty says:

    When it’s done in good faith, I don’t mind as I think some people are just naturally “caring”… but when it’s done purely to insult, humiliate me in public or hardsell products/services to me, I mind and would usually feel offended.

    But sometimes, it really depends on how an unsolicited advice is put across. Some people may have good intentions but it might not show in their choice of words.
    I also find it irritating when people plainly just criticize without giving any solutions/advice. Like “You’re so thin! I can break your arm. You look sick! My boyfriend would leave me if I lost that much weight!” is definitely different from “Hey, you seem to be losing weight, you’re starting to look sickly. If you eat this or that you can gain weight in a healthy way.”

  3. Caramel says:

    I find it most offensive when the sales ladies in the major pharmacy stores, most of them in their middle age or older, come to me when I am browsing the shelves and start to tell me I need to pay attention to my skin pigmentation or eye bags etc, and start flashing out products they are trying to promote. And they do not even look or speak like a professional in cosmetic products. The worst is they still refuse to go away even after I told them I am already trying on another product for my skin problem!

  4. Ekta says:

    I wouldn’t give or want to receive! I hate walking into stores and people telling me my hair is too ___ so i need to use their shampoo or my skin is too ___ so i need to use their products. No one wants to be told what to do by total strangers. It might be an ego thing but its definitely bad sales tactic.

  5. composer says:

    If I have body odor or bad breath I’d appreciate someone pulling me aside and telling me in private!

  6. Nika says:

    Like you, I don’t like to give advice if I am not asked to. And the other way around. I just hate when my mother in law is giving me advices about my hairstyle. She never had long hair and she is convinced that nobody else should have it, so she always tells me I should cut mine.
    But like composer says, comments about body odor or bad breath are the only one I would appreciate to receive (in private).

  7. sesame says:

    Yeah, offensive! I wish some people would keep opinions to themselves.

  8. sesame says:

    Frankly, I don’t appreciate when people tell me anything like this…good faith or otherwise. I particularly find it even more offensive coming from people of the same faith cos they should know better about the power of our tongue.

  9. sesame says:

    I know what you mean…I wasn’t really thinking about sales people when I wrote this post but yeah, some of the things they say just to try to sell are irritating.

  10. sesame says:

    What about from friends or people you know? Would you be more receptive?

  11. sesame says:

    This is quite tricky. Like I mentioned, I appreciated being told about it but it can be hard to put across to another person. I haven’t tried and I wonder if I will.

  12. sesame says:

    I can understand your frustration over your MIL’s comment…I would too. And after reading Composer’s and your comments, I wonder if I should start telling some people about body odor. It’s quite hard to do the telling.

  13. Miss Vinny says:

    I don’t really like it but if it’s the truth, I’ll accept it. Also, one reason I don’t always welcome such advice is that many simply recommend all sorts of supplements and all sorts of methods, even if they might not be properly tested or even efficient. Plus, sometimes, a placebo effect is just as effective and more money or time saving.

    However, I don’t really like people who spend all their time shooting comments out of their mouths, what we call “yaya”(big mouth).

  14. Alexandra says:

    I find it a bit offensive if I receive an unsolicited beauty advise when I do not see myself having any problem in the first place. Simply put it, I am not in favor of people telling me what to do. Unless I approach the person first for advise, then I am fine with it. My understanding is don’t comment if people did not seek for any advise.

  15. sesame says:

    Haha…yaya mouth! That’s right. They shoot comments without thinking. ?

  16. sesame says:

    Yup, same thinking. I find it’s best to keep quiet unless asked. We never know how pple take to such comments cos they may have their personal reasons that we’re not aware of.

  17. EcoBeauty says:

    When I was 12, I told my bestfriend to use deodorant ’cause I felt really bad that a lot of the other kids kept talking behind her back about her body odor problem. Although I said it in the least offensive way I knew how, my friend refused to talk to me for 2 weeks. I guess that’s when I became more careful and stopped giving unsolicited beauty advices to people but I really don’t mind receiving sincere comments especially from people I feel comfortable with.

  18. Pollya says:

    I’m a bit like you in the sense that when I see people with acne (especially bad acne in teens and young adults, e.g. those I see in the MRT or bus), I feel like telling them that they can — and should! — do something about it. Many times I want to share with them the consequences that can happen — speaking from experience, I have bad scarring and pitting on my T-zone now cos of long-standing untreated teenage acne — so I always think I’d be doing them a “service” if I tell them to take better care of their skin now (I’m thinking along the line of advising/encouraging them to see a dermatologist becos I think some young ones don’t know/don’t dare/don’t have the chance to explore this option, so I’m hoping to give them a little “boost” :-)) But in the end, I’ve never had the courage to tell a stranger such things, so… so much for talking, haha!! I guess it’s cos I’m afraid it might come across as intrusive — “What’s it your business anyway?!?”, or they might ALREADY be doing their best to deal with it so I’m just rubbing salt into their wounds! — so in the end I just “swallow” my advice and keep mum, haha.
    In terms of somebody giving me beauty advice, I guess I’ll see what kind of tone and attitude they are taking. If I sense they are telling me out of genuine concern, I’d appreciate it; but if they are just being “busybody”, I would be put off. But at the same time, I think there is our own attitude to consider too — if we come across as being “stuck-up” and can’t take advice/criticism well, then it would be hard for people to want to give us advice or suggestions in the first place. And in this sense, IF it were going to be helpful/useful advice, we are actually the ones on the losing end…

  19. Carrie says:

    LOL @ “should be smiling more in order to attract men! ” Can’t believe this person actually said this to you!! How rude!!!!

    OK back to your question! Personally I would consider giving and receiving unsolicited beauty advices (or any other advices) rather impolite and offensive, especially from a stranger. I would ask people if I really need help. But at times when you do see people (often the people you know) struggling with certain issues, it may not hurt if you ask them gently that “you seem to be struggling with …” and their responses would give away if they require your help or not. If I am asked this question first rather than shovelled down with unwanted advises, I wouldn’t really mind to be honest; but it has to be from someone I know or trust, never strangers (except for health professionals!!) :p

  20. Miss Vinny says:

    Yup, “yaya papaya”. ? It’s okay if they’re really experienced but that’s a rarity. Besides, I refuse to spend all day on nothing but beauty regimes and massaging my face! I’m scared that i might get so tired and accidentally poke my eyes. -__-;;

    Btw, I apologise… I ended up with Emergency Gel instead of all the recommendations you gave me. Anyways, how long was the shipping time by USPS for SkinActives?

  21. sesame says:

    Shipping is around 2 weeks…well, order what you think will work for you. I’ve just received the raw Astaxanthin and oh my, really stinks and very dark when applied straight. Just a tiny bit and my face was all orange too. ?

  22. sesame says:

    I was so offended because all she thought about was men and she expected all of us to be like her!

    I know what you mean about giving advice if we see them struggling. I can approach the young pple I work with regarding their health issues, etc but I just can never bring myself to talk to them about personal grooming. I find it really sensitive cos I don’t know if they can take it with good faith.

  23. sesame says:

    Haha…sometimes the urge can be very strong right? Like what you mentioned, it’s cos we have experienced the pain that comes with it and hope that others can benefit from our experience. But very hard to open our mouths to perfect strangers.

    True about what you say regarding attitude. I dislike the busybody attitude too and it doesn’t help I meet more of these. But perhaps personal grooming, etc is an area some of us are particularly sensitive about. But as a whole, I would still reserve opinions unless asked cos sometimes it can come across like there is something wrong with them and they’ll beat themselves up.

  24. sally says:

    just last week I saw a colleague came back from lunch and without using an umbrella. Her face was red. I just told her that she should use an umbrella as the sun is no good for her skin. She then told me, her face will cool down after that. Should I have even said that since she didn’t bother to protect her face.

  25. sesame says:

    Oh that’s a bit of a dampener…like you mentioned it to her out of goodwill and concern but it seems she didn’t bother. Sometimes, I think maybe hinting works better so that we won’t feel like our advice was “wasted”.

  26. Swati says:

    wow…that was a weird incident!!! but, I think unsolicited advises are welcome only from people you know and who know you otherwise its simply encumbering in other’s space if its a total stranger. Such tips and advises might be welcome by some but that’s just a rarity that anyone would take it int he spirit it was given. I would definitely not welcome anyone’s comments unless I ask them.

  27. Miss Vinny says:

    Ahahaha how long does it take for the “carrot” effect to go away?

    Hell yeah! I think I’m gonna try “Let’s make collagen” cos many of those peptide serums out there… hmm, can’t find enough in-depth reviews. I’m gonna pick this over Naruko’s peptide serum.

  28. Amanda says:

    It depends on how the advice is worded and framed. If it has good meaning and is told in a friendly way, I don’t mind being given a few more tips. I knew somebody who liked giving unsolicited advice of all kinds, I was offended but had to pretend that it’s nothing.

  29. sesame says:

    Ya, it can be hard to accept and it really depends…I would rather keep my mouth shut. ? But having said that, I appreciated my ex-colleague’s comments so I think I might react quite well if a person told me of a problem I need to know politely and discreetly. (Well, hope I have no problems that I am not aware myself!)

  30. sesame says:

    Ah in the day, can’t take when I apply powder over but if I apply in the night, it’s gone by morning. ?

  31. sesame says:

    Most of these pple who give such advice seem to give out of goodwill but sometimes I find they just think their choices or recommendations are the best. They need to know where to draw the line.

  32. Julia says:

    “they might ALREADY be doing their best to deal with it so I’m just rubbing salt into their wounds!”

    THIS. There are so many types of acne, and I don’t think we can claim to know the cure for them all.
    Actually, when I am having hormonal outbreaks, the worst thing you can say to me is something along the lines of, “use clearasil”, “go see a dermatologist” (had nothing but bad experiences with them!”) etc. Seriously, do snobby SAs really think their horrible face wash is gonna cure my hormonal acne when all I want is to shop for make-up in peace?

    Unless it’s something like an obvious mishap, like “Oh, excuse me, you have a bit of lipstick on your teeth, wanna check in my mirror?”, I don’t think we should make comments about others appearances.
    You wouldn’t walk up to people who TALK nonsense and tell them to go a read a book and educate themselves, either, would you? (And that one is far more annoying to the people around them, so that’s when I usually get really tempted to say something.)

  33. sesame says:

    Julia: Good point about the obvious mishap. Even that I think some of us do not want to tell even our friends! I think we should and even if it’s a stranger who is sitting near me and kind of smiling, I probably will tell the person. But it can take quite a bit of guts to do that. Other than that, I agree…best to keep our mouths shut. Like recently, a colleague talked about some problems she had…I didn’t want to say anything that might add to her worry and so I kept quietly the whole time and just listen and to tell her not to worry too much. I mean what else can I say since I don’t know her so well.

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