[[quoteright:296:[[Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Cosmetic_Catastrophe_6609.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:296:Yes, we can see that.]]

The Path To Manhood has many obstacles. To prove his worth, a youth may have to complete the TrainingFromHell, [[ItsPersonal avenge the deaths]] of those dear to him, [[SexAsRiteOfPassage carve some notches on his bedpost]], wrestle a bear, or become embroiled in a "manly project" [[MachoDisasterExpedition predestined to go wrong]].

The path to ''womanhood'', on the other hand, seems limited to the correct application of hair products or... make-up. Frankly, sometimes you're better off with the bear-wrestling.

This is a fairly common plot in works aimed at a pre-teen/young teen audience. A girl will decide that she needs to change her look, and that a complete makeover is the only way to do it. The occasion might be prom night, her first date, the dreaded school photo, or even just proving that she's a young woman, not a child. Whichever it is, she has her heart set on using "grown up" cosmetics.

Problem is, she's never used them before. She might even be specifically banned from using make-up/hair dye/curling tongs until she's "old enough". So, she swipes some of her mum's make-up, sneakily buys some hair dye, and runs off to the bathroom for some makeover magic. Which, of course, [[GoneHorriblyWrong never quite turns out like she hopes]].

Apparently, few people in TV-land think to bite the bullet and ask mum for help, or enlist the assistance of a make-up savvy friend, or even read one of the millions of magazines only too eager to tell girls how to paint their face. Which leaves only trial-and-error as a means of finding the right look. With emphasis on the "error" part. Usually, the girl will also try her new style right before she has to be seen, rather than giving herself enough time to wash off mistakes.

She'll put so much lipstick on that she ends up looking like [[MonsterClown an evil clown]]. Eyeshadow and blusher will be [[UncannyValleyMakeup laid on so thick]] that she resembles a Picasso knockoff. She misreads the instructions on the hair dye and ends up with her scalp on fire...or magenta hair. As for her eyebrows...well, you don't know what you've got until they're gone. She might realize the disaster straight away, or, if the writers are [[{{Buttmonkey}} really cruel]], she might think she looks great right up until she walks into a room only to have everyone kill themselves laughing at her.

Strangely, [[AnAesop the moral]] of [[JustTheWayYouAre "you look beautiful the way you are"]] is becoming quite rare...especially as the media steers girls towards the beauty industry at an increasingly young age. Instead, the moral is more likely to be a more standard "obey your parents," since mum will do an "I told you so" as she fights to restore her daughter's hair to some semblance of normality. Which seems a bit [[FamilyUnfriendlyAesop warped]], really -- the message is effectively "don't use beauty products until you're old enough to get a part time job. ''Then'' you can spend all your cash on trying to make yourself beautiful."

Back in reality, make-up is nearly essential in the television set -- the nature of the studio lights means that most people will need at least some blusher or foundation just to look "natural." Which can make it a bit tricky to do this plot in a live action series where the audience has [[FridgeLogic probably realized]] that the NaiveEverygirl wears foundation and mascara on a daily basis, so why should she screw it up now?

This can happen to older characters too. It's a good way of pointing out the [[HollywoodGeek geeky/awkward girl]]; either she won't wear make-up at all, or she'll stick with a single look, unlike her more popular or practical colleagues. Expect [[HilarityEnsues hilarity to ensue]] if she decides [[BeautifulAllAlong it's time for a change]].

It used to be that the victim of the trope was AlwaysFemale. With the increase in beauty products and procedures that are acceptable for men to use, it is no longer, although it probably won't involve makeup, relying instead on tanning, hair alteration, or tooth whitening.

When the CosmeticCatastrophe is the result of dying one' hair, that becomes the subtrope MyHairCameOutGreen.

Related to (subtrope of?) UncannyValleyMakeup. See InelegantBlubbering for another catastrophe involving cosmetics. Often stems from FemininityFailure.

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!!Examples

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[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Shortly after joining TheShinsengumi in ''PeacemakerKurogane'', Tetsunosuke gets jealous at Yamazaki Susumu, who does his spying work crossdressed as a beautiful woman. Tetsunosuke grabs a spare kimono and borrows Susumu's makeup box, ending up looking more like a Kabuki clown than a lady, to the horror of innocent bystanders.
* Eureka in ''Anime/EurekaSeven'' goes through this to cover some recent scars. It does not go well. Talho helped straighten it out, then she's never seen with it again.
* Makie of ''MahouSenseiNegima'', GenkiGirl that she is, tends to put on make-up a tad too enthusiastically whenever she tries to on her own.
* A variant of this occurs in episode 28 of ''{{Anime/Pokemon}}'', Team Rocket run a fake beauty salon for pokemon. Ash and Misty get into an argument about fashion that ends with Ash daring Misty to take her Psyduck to the salon to get a makeover. She tries, but Team Rocket end up thinking that ''she'' wants a makeover. So they put her in weird clothes, give her a new hairstyle, and paint her face with [[UncannyValleyMakeup ridiculous clown-like makeup]]. She thinks it looks good, until Ash sees her and ''laughs his butt off'' at how stupid she looks.
* When Nodame of ''NodameCantabile'' tries to make herself pretty for Chiaki, this happens.
* Happens in ''TenchiInTokyo'' when Ryoko applies make-up to her face by the pound. Everyone is startled but then laughs hysterically when they see her face (especially [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses Princess]] [[TheRival Ayeka]], who's rolling on the floor laughing so hard she's crying at the sight!)
* Happens in ''GreatTeacherOnizuka'' where Azusa, in order to impress the title character, decides to apply makeup. She overdoes it and she looked like a Ganguro girl. It got worse when in the next day, the day before they are going for the school vacation in Okinawa, her face is too white with makeup.
* Happens in the ''CowboyBebop'' manga in which someone, upon meeting Ed responds with "You're a girl, aren't you?! I'm going to make you pretty!" Not too long after, we see Ed's face covered in make-up who asks "Is [[ThirdPersonPerson Ed]] pretty?" It's . . . not pretty.
* A ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' OVA has Ai Haibara waking up at Ayumi's house after a sleepover. Ayumi then gets the idea to wear some of her mother's make-up before going out to the store. Ai ([[OlderThanTheyLook being an adult in a child's body]]) puts on a decent amount, while Ayumi (being a little girl who has never worn make-up before) puts on so much that she ends up looking like a clown. Luckily, Ai offers to help her out afterwards.
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[[folder:Comics]]
* Employed in the 1990 ''NewMutants Summer Special'' where Rahne is given a makeover by one of the residents of Megalopolis to seduce her over to Consumerism. The "mirror" shown to her is a glamor shot. Her actual makeup consists of childish scrawling and a badly fitted wig.
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[[folder:Film]]
* In the 1999 movie ''The Other Sister'', Creator/JulietteLewis (playing a mentally challenged girl) gets a cheap makeover in a mall. Unfortunately, she has to find out that it covers just half of her face.
* A non-visual example in ''Film/PaperMoon''. Addie puts on some of her dead mother's perfume in an attempt to seem more grown up, but having never used perfume before she practically bathes in it. She's pleased when Moses obviously notices the smell, but becomes less pleased when he cracks open the windscreen in the car to get ''rid'' of the smell.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* [[Literature/ConfessionsOfGeorgiaNicolson Georgia Nicolson]], the [[CuteClumsyGirl Cute Clumsy]] LovableAlphaBitch protagonist of Louise Rennison's series (beginning with ''Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging''), is the queen of this trope... even though she ''does'' use make-up on a regular basis. Somehow, she always has to push things just a bit too far: she dyes a blonde streak in her hair only to have the hair snap off when her boyfriend runs his hands through it, she tries to make a pimple look like a beauty spot with the aid of a lip pencil (making it even more obvious) and shaves off her "orang-utan" eyebrows when she decides tweezing hurts too much. In another book, she dyes her legs bright orange in a self-tanning-lotion mishap.
* Tracy Beaker, of Jacqueline Wilson's ''The Story of Tracy Beaker'', ''The Dare Game'', and ''Starring Tracy Beaker'' has an example of this in the first book, with an on-the-money illustration by Nick Sharratt. However, she doesn't do it for a boy, but because an author is coming to her care home and she wants to make an impression. [[spoiler: She does. The author, Cam Lawson, later becomes her foster mother.]] The worst part is that she doesn't even realize why people are laughing...
* Letty Chubb in the ''TeenageWorrier'' book series had several of these. She has dyed her hair orange, ruined her mother's expensive ballgown by stepping on the hem while wearing heels, broken out in a rash because of her allergy to perfume, and more.
* The Creator/RobertAHeinlein book ''Podkayne of Mars'' has Podkayne try to imitate garish makeup from a magazine cover. Fortunately an older woman shows her how it should be done.
* This is the unfortunate result when the transvestite protagonist of the YA novel ''Flipside'' attempts to apply makeup for the first time, almost discouraging him entirely from cross-dressing until his girlfriend (who finds him most attractive as a girl) teaches him the proper technique.
* In one book of ''TheBabysittersClub'', Mallory, while in California and away from her parents, basically blew all her money on make up and [[WhatAnIdiot "Temporary" Blond Dye Job]]. The Catastrophe in this scenario is that that it's implied in her narration that she's wearing too much, and that the dye is not going to come out before she has to return home.
* In the short story ''Liar!'' by Creator/IsaacAsimov, the cold and harsh robopsychologist Susan Calvin is led to believe that a man she has a crush on feels the same way about her, so she begins wearing makeup to draw his attention; her inexpert efforts are less than subtle, and she doesn't get a positive reaction.
* In ''[[Literature/LegacyOfTheAldenata Hell's Faire]]'', the thirteen year old Cally O'Neal attempts to make her self up like Music/BritneySpears does, but the end result winds up as "raccoon eyes", and [[BadassGrandpa Papa O'Neal]] afraid that if she's seen by others like that he'd be accused of child abuse. Fortunately for Cally some of the visitors to the farm where she and Papa live are much better at applying makeup, and fix the problem.
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In an early episode of ''Series/BoyMeetsWorld'', Cory tries to use a hair care product but fails to read the directions. After they manage to unstick the comb from his head, he tries and fails to slip through the whole day of school wearing a hat. At least he doesn't end up "bald as a cue ball", which is what Eric insists someone else who used the same product did.
* On ''Series/TheSuiteLifeOfZackAndCody'', Cody decides to differentiate himself from his brother by lightening his hair. Result: pink hair. On the day of a scholarship interview. Naturally, a TwinSwitch is the ''perfect'' answer. Not.
* There was an small early arc in ''Series/YoSoyBettyLaFea'' where Betty tries a makeover by buying a new dress and trying a new hairdo and makeup. Unfortunately, she doesn't have fashion sense, and let herself in the hands of the saleswoman and the hairdresser, who are as clueless as she is. Predictably, it fails horribly, prompting the rest of the cast to say that she looked ''worse'' than her usual self. Later, (after the [[BeautifulAllAlong proper makeover]]) this experience becomes an inspiration, and she capitalize it into a program to create salesgirls with fashion knowledge, so they can act as consultants for the clients and they can get a better experience (and clothing that suit them).
* On ''Series/{{Friends}}'' Ross used too much of a dental bleach agent, causing his teeth to glow in the dark under his black light and scaring off his date.
** In a different episode he manages to get two applications of fake tan on the front of his body and none on the back - after repeated attempts to rectify this he has ''eight'' applications on his front and still none on his back.
* In an early episode of ''Series/PrettyGuardianSailorMoon'', Ami tries to bond with Usagi by engaging in girls' typical activities with her and her friends. One of these is a pajama party at Usagi's (for which Naru had come as well): at one point, they start showing off their make-up. Ami, not having much practice with it, messes hers up royally... And all three girls share a good laugh.
* An episode of ''Series/{{Yeralash}}'' is about a little girl who's left alone with her mom's cosmetics. In the end, two robbers break into the flat... and run away in fear.
* In one episode of ''Series/DadsArmy'', the platoon are told that Home Guard members who are too old to fight will be drafted into ARP under new government rules. Preparing for an inspection which will decide who is too old to stay, the men go to increasingly desperate lengths to attempt to look younger - toupees, girdles, and even covering themselves in the makeup that Frazer uses when preparing corpses. Meanwhile, Hodges tries to disguise himself as an old man so he will not be sent to the Home Guard. HilarityEnsues all around.
* An episode of ''Series/MalcolmInTheMiddle'' has Lois getting a trashy makeover from a girl at work and she ends up being mistaken for a hooker. Hal loves it though.
* In ''Series/TwoOfAKind'' Ashley gets an ink stain on her cheek a few days before class pictures are being taken and Carrie attempts to cover it up with makeup. The result is a completely white face, over-rouged cheeks and clown lipstick.
--> '''Ashley:''' Oh my God, I look like Grandma.
* In a variation, on ''SaluteYourShorts'', Dina is the resident girly-girl and is about to take part in a water balloon tag/capture the flag game. She knows a lot about makeup, but not much about camouflage. Attempting to apply her makeup skills to camouflage she ends up looking like a paramilitary clown and asks deadpan "Do you think I overdid it?"
* Happens when Lila attempts a makeover on her friend Enid in the ''Series/CharlesInCharge'' episode "A Date with Enid".
* This is the result when Kiki performs a makeover on Alexia and Claireparker while they are asleep in the ''Series/{{Pixelface}}'' episode "Two Aethelwynnes".
* Lorenna in ''TheBrothersGarcia'' dons a lot of make-up at the start of the new school year against Sonia's wishes. The catastrophe comes when she must rush home and clean it off before dinner - she discovers it's waterproof.
* In ''Series/SadieJ'', Sadie deliberately inflicts one on herself in order to submit a review trashing her father's fiancee's beauty salon.
* In ''SabrinaTheTeenageWitch'', a spell causes everyone's fear to multiply. Libby gets paranoid that she won't win the Spring Queen pageant so keeps applying more make-up. By the time Sabrina gets to the Forest of her Fears, Libby appears dressed as a clown.
** Also in the first episode, Sabrina inadvertently casts a spell that makes Libby unable to apply lipstick...to her lips. She keeps putting it on everywhere else.
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[[folder:Webcomics]]
* In ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'', GadgeteerGenius Kat falls for a boy at her school, tries to paint her face in an effort to impress him, and messes it up. Best friend Annie salvages the situation by removing ''all'' the makeup. When Kat notes that she doesn't look different from normal, Annie tells her that she's beautiful as she is, making this one of the rare instances where that particular Aesop is specifically employed. She is then cut off when she starts to ask why Annie wears makeup.
* Hannelore of ''QuestionableContent'' tries to apply makeup with the help of a robot whose cosmetic knowledge is derived from porn websites, with predictable results.
* ''ThePerryBibleFellowship'' points out [[http://www.pbfcomics.com/?cid=PBF169-The_Other_Girls.jpg one more inconvenient side]] of the vampirism.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''AsToldByGinger'', the heroine and her two best friends try to make themselves look beautiful for the school photo, by stealing Lois' (Ginger's mother's) cosmetics. Then, when they're found out and forbidden from using makeup, they follow a magazine's instructions for making "fake-up" out of household materials. The results are predictably disastrous, especially since the foundation was made from gravy.
--> '''Miranda:''' Are they auditioning for clown school?
--> '''Courtney:''' If they are, I think they're going to get in.
* ''{{Futurama}}'' has Leela attempting to do her own eyeshadow and lipstick when her one eye is temporarily blinded.
** When she gets a second prosthetic eye, she again has trouble with eyeshadow, although Amy is on hand to help her out.
* Jane suffers the hair-dying variety in the ''{{Daria}}'' episode "Dye! Dye! My Darling". It's a subversion considering that Jane basically expected, at least subconsciously, Daria to screw it up in order to pick a fight with her.
* Katara and Toph try out cosmetics after a day at the spa in one episode of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''. The makeup doesn't look ''that'' bad, but it's still off enough to attract the attention of a trio of snooty girls. Toph and Katara respond to the criticism by [[CrowingMomentOfFunny dropping them into a river and washing them downstream]].
** In the sequel series ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', the {{Tomboy}}-ish main character has absolutely no interest in make-up. In one episode she is faced with....DUN DUN DUN, a powder room. Sinister music plays as she suspiciously picks up the puff, only for powder to explode all over her face.
* This is, predictably, the effect of [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Homer Simpson]]'s "makeup gun" as demonstrated on Marge.
-->'''Marge:''' Homer! You've got it set on "whore"!
* ''BobsBurgers'' - Tina falls in with the new girl at school, who insists on makeovers. She puts a lot of makeup on the two of them in the girl's room - when they step outside, the two Pesto brothers see them and yell "AAAA! Bathroom clowns!"
* Happens in ''WesternAnimation/PixelPinkie'' when Pinkie (who is a genie) uses her powers to perform a makeover on Nina and Anni. They actually wanted a ''house'' makeover.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Dogstar}}'': Happens when Gran decides to help Gemma 'look pretty' for the opening of the Dogstar museum in the first episode of series 2. Gemma wastes no time in wiping off the make-up as soon as she is out of sight of Gran.
* ''WesternAnimation/CampLakebottom'': Gretchen does this to herself when she tries to prove she is girly enough to enter Camp Sunnysmiles beauty pageant in "Ring Around the Gretchen". When she buries her face on her bed in sorrow, her face sticks to the blanket.
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