I want to express a woman looks prettier if she does not wear any makeup on her face.

Are "bare face" and "naked face" the same?

For example, "She looks prettier with her naked face" or "She looks prettier with her bare face".

Update: The Cambridge Dictionary says

barefaced adjective (WITHOUT MAKE-UP): not wearing any make-up (= coloured substances used on your face to improve or change your appearance):

She still looks like a teenager when she's barefaced and ponytailed. I prefer a barefaced, natural look.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says

barefaced adjective

Synonyms of barefaced

1: having the face uncovered:

a: having no whiskers : BEARDLESS

b: wearing no mask

So, "barefaced" is not wearing a mask or makeup or both?

Let's say there are three women:

  • the first is wearing make-up but not a mask

  • the second is wearing a mask but not make-up

  • and the third is wearing make-up and a mask

Which woman is barefaced?


4 Answers 4


No, they aren't the same. Your first sentence (with "naked") would be unnatural. Your second sentence (with "bare") is possible but would still be very uncommon. In general, we use "bare" instead of "naked" for a specific part of the body. For example, someone might have a bare neck but not a naked neck.

The most common way of saying this (at least in AmE) would be what you said in your first sentence:

She looks prettier without any makeup.

(Or something very similar to that.)

  • 18
    In Arabic culture, women wear veils in public. That book title relates to "not wearing a veil" rather than not wearing makeup.
    – James K
    Apr 14, 2023 at 7:15
  • 7
    @Tom Yes, I said "in general". There are certainly some situations in which you could apply "naked" to a specific body part. It is often used to emphasize the lack of a covering, for example: "My finger felt naked without my wedding ring." In general, though, to say that a body part is uncovered in a neutral way, "bare" is preferred, at least in AmE. Apr 14, 2023 at 8:41
  • 2
    "so we use the adjective/adverb "barefaced" for faces that do not wear any make-up or faces that do not wear a mask" That is utterly incorrect. "Barefaced" has no relationship, in any way, whatsoever, to make-up.
    – Fattie
    Apr 14, 2023 at 14:02
  • 4
    If a woman is wearing a mask, she is not barefaced. If you would try and listen to the native speakers you are asking questions of, you might learn something. It would be great6 of this OP would stop arguing with us and try to understand what is being said to him.
    – Lambie
    Apr 14, 2023 at 14:51
  • 3
    Part of the issue is that bare faced is too vague for useful communication without establishing context ahead of time. The problem with your two previous examples fail to establish context ahead of time and that they try to redefine this broad term to only mean something very specific.
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 14, 2023 at 15:23

The answers and comments saying that "barefaced" can't mean "without makeup" are incorrect. It may not be common in their personal varieties on English, but it definitely is one sense of the word:

The Jersey Girl star proves she's a natural knockout when she's caught bare-faced outside her New York home in July. people.com (2004)

Lily Allen goes for barefaced chic during Paris Fashion Week - just how flawless is her complexion?! glamourmagazine.co.uk (2009)

The no-makeup movement has been gaining considerable attention in recent years, especially after singer Alicia Keys penned an essay about why she’s going barefaced. washingtonpost.com (2016)

These 28 bare-faced celebrity selfies are ultimate skin goals businessinsider.com (2018)

The actresses posed for a barefaced picture with artist Alexandra Grant after attending a makeup-free dinner party thrown by Goop, Paltrow's own lifestyle brand. people.com (2021)

10 Female K-Pop Idols Who Look The Most Beautiful Barefaced kpopmap.com (2022)

As Lady Gaga shocks with her beautiful bare-faced performance at this year’s Oscars, and Selena Gomez turns to #nomakeup selfies at the height of drama with Hailey Bieber, we can’t help but wonder, is bare-faced beauty the new Bold Glam? bodyandsoul.com.au (2023)

Lady Gaga Goes Barefaced At Oscars – Why Do We Care? roarnews.co.uk (2023)

This is just a small sample of uses, which shows it is used in both US and Commonwealth English, and it has a fairly long history of use. 2004 was the earliest I found with a quick Google search but I wouldn't be surprised if it goes back considerably further than that. It seems to be hyphenated about half the time now, with hyphenated being more common in earlier uses.

I wonder if it began as headlinese, and has only more recently been adopted into more common use? Some of these examples only use the word in their headlines or captions, using other phrases in the body text.

But note that this use does seem limited to "barefaced" or "bare-faced". "She looks prettier with her bare face" does not seem like a natural sentence to me. In other words, it should be used as an adjective, not as a noun phrase.

  • 1
    Good response +1. As for "Lady Gaga goes barefaced", "why do we care" indeed
    – FShrike
    Apr 16, 2023 at 10:02
  • +1 and I think it's because better suited to EL&U. Perhaps one day? I too noticed that barefaced is used in titles but not exclusively, see my comments beneath the OP.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 16, 2023 at 13:19
  • 1
    >> saying "'barefaced' can't mean 'without makeup' are incorrect." Do you not mean utterly, utterly incorrect? :-D
    – mcalex
    Apr 17, 2023 at 9:20

In this context, I (American native speaker) might say, “her natural face.”

“Her naked face” doesn’t sound idiomatic to me (although I could see it in some of the examples others have brought up, talking about a woman whose culture expects her to be veiled for modesty) and “bare-faced,” while it works, is an uncommon phrase with negative connotations.

A quick search through Google Books shows that the other top hits for “bare-faced” either are variations on “bare-faced liar” (such as calling a cult leader a Bare-Faced Messiah), a similar pejorative usage meaning open and shameless, such as “bare-faced adultery” or “bare-faced outrage” (referring to a public lynching), a reference to child soldiers too young to grow beards, and several jokes about naked people that used it as a more-polite substitution for “bare-assed.”


So, "barefaced" is not wearing a mask or makeup or both?

Note that the M-W entry you linked doesn't even mention the "without makeup" definition. Neither does Dictionary.com. Or the Oxford Learner's Dictionary. Or the Macmillan dictionary.

That only the Cambridge (not Oxford) entry lists the "without makeup" definition (and lists it second / last) should be taken as a sign that that usage is rare or niche. I can in fact imagine a couple of niches where such usage might be known, but if your objective is to communicate effectively to a general audience, then you should use "barefaced" only in the sense of

  1. not wearing any kind of face-covering garment, such as a mask or veil, or
  2. open / unconcealed or exhibiting a lack of shame or scruples. [The second definition in the M-W entry you linked].

If you use it to mean "without makeup" then some people may understand you from context, but most will find your word choice odd. The normal word choice is, in fact, "without makeup" or "without any makeup".

Are "bare face" and "naked face" the same?

"Bare" and "naked" are related, but not the same or interchangeable. Idiomatic usages of these have little overlap. Any native speaker choosing "naked face" does so with the intention of drawing attention via that unusual word choice, but they probably mean the same as "bare face" -- that is, a face that is not covered by a mask, veil, etc..

Furthermore, note well that although "with her bare face" is not inherently incorrect, what you actually want in that sentence is probably "with her face bare" or "barefaced" (and we're still talking about clothes, here). The difference is subtle, but the first primes me to expect "prettier" to be a comparison with a different "she", whereas with the others I understand it to be a comparison with a different state of the same face. I'm not prepared to generalize that.

Which woman is barefaced?

Definitely not either of those wearing a mask. Perhaps there are people who would say none of them, but most would say that the one with makeup but no mask is barefaced, in the physical sense.

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