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Unkempt Beauty

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Gimme the girl that's beautiful
Without a trace of makeup on
Barefoot in the kitchen
Singin' her favorite song
Joe Nichols, "Gimme That Girl"

The fashion industry would have you believe that without make-up, expensive designer clothes, and fancy hair-care, all women look like trolls. Hollywood is all too willing to pass that message along. Some women, however, are always gorgeous, even without the aforementioned fashion accessories. In fact, sometimes they are even better-looking that way.

For men this trope has slightly more mainstream recognition, probably because personal grooming is frequently seen as unmanly. A Perma-Stubble helps contribute to the Hunk persona.

It may stem from the notion that a woman who puts a great deal of effort into fixing herself up on a daily basis could be seen as shallow and superficial, caring only about her looks. Make-up, hairstyling and carefully chosen clothes are instead seen as trying too hard, while rolling out the door in sweat pants, T-shirt and bedhead is more accessible.

This trope is the inversion of She Cleans Up Nicely, where a woman (or man) is just as appealing dressed down and casual as when they are trying to be fashionable. It can also be an audience's reaction to Hollywood Homely, in which case an attempt at She Cleans Up Nicely will likely be seen as an Unnecessary Makeover.

Be cautious about the application of this trope; Reality Is Unrealistic. An actor playing a role as a scruffy character may be genuinely trying to look bad, but even still it sometimes takes more effort to make someone look "natural."

A Sister Trope to Glasses Are Sexy, Meganekko, Ugly Cute and Nerds Are Sexy. Contrast with Curly Hair Is Ugly for a hair-specific variant.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • There's an ad for Five Hour Energy, where a guy gets up, grumbling about how he hates mornings until he pulls out the product, then the next we see him, he's dressed and shaved, saying "Let's do this!" If you watch the commercial from beginning to end, you may notice he looks about 10 years older when cleaned up.
  • Similarly, there's a Hulu commercial in which a Big Beautiful Woman goes out for a night on the town, then attends a board meeting at work the next day. She looks far more youthful riding a motorcycle, dancing with disheveled hair, and jumping into a swimming pool than she does in a drab business suit.
  • An advertisement for Zzzquil, a sleep aid, depicts a number of people looking goofy while sleeping, then at the end shows an attractive woman waking up smiling with messy hair and bright, sparkling eyes. The point seems to be that you'll sleep deeply (the goofy sleeping people) and wake up refreshed (the attractive woman waking up).
  • A Japanese governmental campaign to promote energy conservation has two characters, Mirai and Ima, in which Ima, a messy and lazy slob, receives instructions and tips from the organized, tidy Mirai. Early on, the campaign backfired in a way. Their target audience, Japanese teenagers and young men, found Ima's too-large and asymmetrical clothing, long, messy hair, and sleepy demeanor to be more attractive than Mirai's overbearing and smug attitude.

    Comic Books 
  • X-23 wears her hair in simple styles (usually long and loose, less frequently in a ponytail or braided, but never done elaborately), doesn't wear makeup (the exception being during her prostitute days in NYX), and eschews fashionable dress (an attempt by Jubilee to give her a makeover in Paris left Laura distinctly uncomfortable), with a personal style that is either gothic, strictly functional, or casual, or varying combinations thereof. She's also considered to be quite a beautiful young woman.
  • Betty from Archie Comics is a tomboyish girl who doesn't wear make-up and, apart from early decades, dresses in attire like tees more than anything. This puts her in contrast with her friend Veronica, who dresses up in expensive designer brands and wears make-up. Veronica does tend to give some of her clothes to Betty though.
  • Bone: Thorn spends most of the time with her hair messy and in worn-down clothes and yet, she looks prettier than in her princess attire. Fone Bone simply praises her to the skies.
  • Dick Grayson seems to actively avoid brushing his hair most of the time, and usually dresses in baggy clothes or minimally (tank tops, shorts, baggy shirts) and is also a bit of a slob. He's also depicted as one of the most attractive men in the DC universe, even among the attractive Bat-family.
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color: Clémentine and Emma. They have both slightly messy hairstyles.
  • Superman uses this as part of his disguise. Clark is always very well-groomed and professional looking, but as Superman his hair is messy-curly (obviously because he is flying a lot) and in more modern iterations, can look a little scruffed-up.

    Comic Strips 
  • Li'l Abner:
    • Abner's pursuer (and later wife) Daisy Mae Scragg, like most of the other Dogpatchers, generally wore rough, tattered clothing, but she seems to have at least combed her hair and washed her face regularly.
    • Moonbeam McSwine (who provides the page image) is a purer example. Despite the tattered clothing and general inattention to hygiene, she's still one of the prettiest women in the Dogpatch area (after Stupefyin' Jones, whose beauty is, well, look at the name).

    Fan Works 
  • A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script: In this The Silmarillion fanfic Luthien IS the most beautiful woman in the world. Even if her hair is unruly and badly cut, her dress tattered and dirty, she is wearing no jewelry and she has been wandering in the woodland for days with little rest... she will still look strikingly gorgeous.
  • A Crown of Stars: Shinji always thought that Asuka looked beautiful -and/or hot- no matter what (although in chapter 21, she had a makeover and his legs quit on him).
  • Child of the Storm has Carol Danvers, who usually dresses in intentionally scruffy t-shirt and jeans, often with short hair, and tends to avoid make-up and fancy dresses like Kryptonite, yet is still considered to be very attractive. That said, it is explained that she actually doesn't mind getting dressed up every now and then (and cleans up nicely enough to be considered on par with literally supernatural beautiful women), she just refused to do so whenever she could to spite her father who had Stay in the Kitchen values.
  • Evangelion 303: Asuka is a Tomboy Tsundere but she always looks beautiful, even if she is sleeping or she looks completely haggard. However when she has a makeover she is downright striking.
  • Once More with Feeling: In chapter 11 Asuka wakes up and does not bother with brushing her hair, thinking that Shinji would not notice. However he DID notice... and he thought that she looked really, really stunning.
  • Velvet in The Commission is still the Badass Adorable she is in canon, just one with a fashion sense that drives Coco up a wall.
  • Samantha Carter in Xander and Yet ANOTHER Demon is noted by Xander as clearly not trying to be attractive: no makeup, a masculine haircut, and wearing standard BDUs and combat boots. Yet he still thinks she looks just as gorgeous as Anise and could easily be a model if she wanted to.
  • In The Eternity Effect, Glinda becomes more attractive after she stops wearing make-up. Glinda couldn't wear make-up after becoming a ghost. Even after passing on into the afterlife, she couldn't bear to look into a mirror due to traumatic memories. As a result, she stops wearing make-up, however her mother compliments her that she's looking fresher lately.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe fic A Little Red and Blue, Sharon is inadvertently sent to the year 1944 by Wanda and is later found by the past Steve and Bucky, introducing herself to them as "Kate". Due to the differences in how women dressed between the time periods as well as Sharon not having time period appropriate currency and ready access to a shower, Steve and Bucky note that "Kate" doesn't wear make-up and has slightly masculine clothing but consider her to be very attractive nonetheless. When Bucky's aunt Agatha helps Sharon with her hair and make-up, the two men are even more impressed.

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin: Being a street rat, Aladdin himself only wears patches and rags, goes around barefoot, and his hair is noticeably disheveled. This doesn't stop him from being utterly handsome.
  • Belle in Beauty and the Beast when her hair gets loosen, during the wolves incident and when she runs to save the Beast.
  • Merida in Brave has long, untamed hair and spends a significant portion of the movie in a ripped-up dress and covered in dirt smudges. She still manages to look cute as a button, though.
  • Maria Posada from The Book of Life, as pointed out by some jealous Girl Posse in the corrida's audience: "she's so natural!".
  • In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Queen dresses Snow White in rags and has her work as a maid to dull her beauty but Snow White still becomes the fairest in the land and catches the eye of the Prince.

  • Played with in Goddess Creation System. Xiaxi's image is that she's wearing little to no makeup or cosmetics to let her natural beauty shine, which Mingluan notices with approval. However, it's not actually true: She's actually going through quite a lot of effort to maintain her appearance and just makes it look natural.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Bible: Esther is one of many young women being inspected by the king as a new bride, and each of them is allowed to take whatever they want with them when they're presented. However, Esther takes "nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed." She's nonetheless noted to impress everyone who looks at her, and the king chooses her as his new queen.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Beroe, daughter of Adonis and goddess Aphrodite. She was specifically noted for never using a mirror and not wearing make-up or jewellery, yet her natural beauty was still enough to drive her suitors crazy.
    • To a lesser extent, all goddesses who weren't overly concerned with their beauty - ever heard of an ugly goddess? Artemis bathed occasionally, but other than that, it is not known that she did anything for her looks. As a virgin goddess, she had no reason to cater to the Male Gaze, and jewelry is rather impractical for a hunter. And she was still beautiful enough that at least one mortal man gave his life to stare at her.
    • Athena, the Greek goddess of war and wisdom, was always portrayed as being as being far more concerned with battlefield strategy and knowledge, but it is worth noting that she was right there in competition with Hera, Queen of Olympus and Aphrodite, goddess of love, for Paris' golden apple, the beauty contest which helped start the Trojan War. And the Trojan prince hungrily took in Athena's flawlessly beautiful nude form, as well as that of her immortal stepmother and step-sibling.
    • Dionysus was often depicted as a Pretty Boy who spent most of his time at mad, drunken revels in the woods, sometimes without clothes.

  • Lights. Even with hair that is often unruly (except for her trademark combed-over fringe) and a minimal amount of makeup (she is rarely seen without eyeliner), Lights still retains a natural cuteness. Many fans can't help but fall in love with her, especially when she smiles.
  • The No Doubt music video for '"Underneath It All" shows Gwen Stefani gradually wearing more "plain" clothing and makeup, becoming more attractive with each step.
  • Courtney Love in her heyday frequently wore tattered babydoll dresses and bright red lipstick in the vicinity of her mouth rather than on her mouth, and appeared to be completely unacquainted with the concept of hairbrushes. She cleans up occasionally now, but 'messy' is still her most iconic look.
  • Speaking of Courtney Love, her husband, rock icon Kurt Cobain was also seen as this. Once you got past the generic clothing, the messy hair (which became a trendsetting hairstyle), and his messy facial hair, he was otherwise a handsome man to many people, including Love, who often compared him to Hollywood film stars like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise or George Clooney.
  • The country song "Gimme That Girl" by Joe Nichols is about this trope.
  • The Adam Gregory song "Crazy Days":
    Don't worry 'bout what to wear
    Those faded cut-off jeans are my favorite pair
    Don't go messing with your hair
    Let it all blow around
  • Here's what Taylor Swift looks like without makeup.
  • Katiejane Garside of Daisy Chainsaw/Queen Adreena/Ruby Throat is an amazing exemplar of it [1]. NSFW.
  • Implied about the girl sung about in "She Don't Know She's Beautiful" by Sammy Kershaw given that a lyric comments "Mornin' comes and her hair's all a mess. That's when she thinks she looks her worst. It's times like this she don't know why I can't take my eyes off her".
  • The Lucius song "Wildewoman":
    Her eyes are light and clear
    And fearless like Chicago winds in the winter time
    And her hair is never quite in place
    And the knees in her jeans have seen better days
    And she's no beauty queen but you love her anyway
    She's a wildewoman
  • Janis Joplin had this look, though reportedly her personal hygiene left something to be desired.
  • One of the things the singer of Before You Exit's "I Like That" likes about their crush is her lack of makeup.
  • Meghan Trainor's "Made You Look":
    I look good in my Versace dress,
    But I'm hotter when my morning hair's a mess.
    'Cause even with my hoodie on,
    I made you look.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This is why Sara Del Rey took to face paint and masks. Initially she just stopped wearing makeup to be taken more seriously but people kept telling her she was pretty anyway.
  • Part of Sofia Castillo's appeal, and part of her feud with Marina Tucker, who believes the world needs saving from Castillo's makeup lacking face.

    Tabletop Games 

  • The two unnamed characters in Magan&Danai. When one of the women wakes up her girlfriend is already getting dressed. The woman gets dressed and her girlfriend is still getting ready.
  • Erika from Living With Hipster Girl And Gamer Girl ignores her appearance to the point where she's almost a walking sanitary hazard, but she still looks spectacular enough to be the subject of much Fanservice.

    Web Original 
  • The Urban Dictionary refers to this trope as "hot mess".
  • A lot of "Natural Nudes" websites go for this angle, exemplifying the unaltered beauty of the female form.
  • Widget of the Whateley Universe. She's very attractive, but she doesn't use makeup and she just slaps a bicycle cap over her hair, then jumps into baggy clothes and maybe a lab coat. She has a huge crush on Thunderbird, who thinks of her as a "pal".

    Web Videos 
  • The Slender Man Mythos:
    • The three male leads (Alex, Jay, and Tim) from Marble Hornets. They dress in baggy thermals and hoodies, sport Messy Hair and Creepy Shadowed Undereyes, and generally look as if they haven't slept in weeks (as per the nature of the mythos). This hasn't stopped the fanbase from crushing on them one bit.
    • Jessica from Season 2 is an in-universe example. Same unhealthy pale skin, dark circles, and rumpled clothes, but Jay is noticeably tongue-tied around her.
    • The male protagonists of Everyman HYBRID don't give much thought to how they look — particularly Evan, who sports messy hair and baggy, somewhat ratty clothes. The fanbase couldn't care less. Evan once had to address the audience in-character, requesting that they stop writing erotic fan fiction about him and his friends. (Unfortunately, the attention only escalated — and didn't end with the completion of the series.)
    • Many protagonists in the mythos seem to fit this trope (not to mention a few antagonists). It's become a running joke in the fandom that in order to star in a Slenderverse vlog, you must possess the kind of good looks that hold up under constant insomnia, Sanity Slippage, and being splattered with blood.

    Western Animation 
  • Most of the female characters in Adventure Time fit the trope, including Marceline, Betty, Doctor Princess, Canyon, and even Princess Bubblegum (especially in her scientist attire). Finn's mother in the 2-part fifth season premiere.
  • Sadira on Aladdin: The Series. Jasmine was also this whenever she dressed down in some form (like when she became a street rat in the episode "Sand Switch").
  • Arcane: Vi is younger than her game counterpart, and bare-faced with limited access to conventional grooming. She's still good looking, but it's toned down since she's usually dirty and/or beaten up.
  • Kevin Levin in Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Face stained with oil? Hot. Exhausted, dirty and with his clothes in tatters? Hot, hot, hot!
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers: While no one (especially the legions of furries she created) would ever object to seeing Gadget all dolled up, Chip and Dale consider Gadget to be just as beautiful when in her normal purple jumpsuit and with messy hair.
  • Laff-A-Lympics: Daisy Mayhem, the only female member from the Really Rottens, is always barefooted, split-haired and wearing t-shirts and torn jeans, but she's gorgeous.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Princess Cadence in some scenes of the season two finale.
    • Fluttershy looks pretty even when she is dirty with changeling goo in the end of To Where And Back Again. Actually, she is a lot prettier in her usual simple looks -particularly when she takes care of animals - than when she wears fancy dresses and complicated hairdos.
    • Sugar Belle looks pretty good even when she is covered with mud in "The Break Up Break Down".
    • The brief moment in "Sisterhood Social" where Rarity is standing the rain. Her mane dripping wet and she looks great.
    • Twilight Sparkle sports a rugged bedhead in "Bridal Gossip" that looks pretty good, while her disheveled manecut in "It's About Time" (courtesy of misapplied dragon fire) makes her look badass.
    • In "Simple Ways", Trenderhoof falls for Applejack while she's working on the farm, seeing her through a Crush Filter and describing her as "beautiful" even when she's covered in mud and sweat.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Adora looked beautiful with her hair down, after having a hard battle with Light Hope in the end of Season 4. Hordak, too, looked hot even covered with scrapes and having lost his sanity almost completely.
    • Entrapta looks pretty good in her mechanic overalls and oil-stained top, as Bow, Hordak and King Micah can confirm.
  • Lance in Sym-Bionic Titan tries combing his hair neatly for his high school's dance but ends up keeping it in its usual messy style. He already had plenty of fangirls before he tried this.
  • Ivy of Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? has wild, short cut hair, and dresses in clothes better suited for action than for fashion, and is still considered beautiful in-universe.

    Real Life 
  • Amber Benson, often seen at conventions, wearing such casual attire as a Ramones t-shirt, cargo shorts, and gigantic boots. Ask any fanboy, they'll say she's just as sexy dressed down like that as wearing a corset in Maxim.
  • Summer Glau certainly seems to have this trait, as she looks more attractive and beautiful without makeup. This is especially noticeable with her characters in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and is rather striking in Deadly Honeymoon, where there are scenes showing the characters without much makeup and later with it - and the difference is amazing. With the makeup, Summer looks like a doll, while without it, she looks very real and natural.
  • Truth in Television: Sometimes tabloids print photos of celebrities caught without makeup. The point of this is obvious; as pointed out in the header, the fashion industry wants us to think we all look like trolls without their products. A while back, a paparazzi caught a snapshot of Maggie Gyllenhaal coming home from some awards show. Apparently, even tired, disheveled, and (possibly) hungover, she's freaking gorgeous. She's most definitely wearing makeup, though, and neither her hair nor her clothes are below average for any woman in public.
  • Marilyn Monroe once posed in a note  potato sack, just to prove to everyone what they already knew.
    • Also, she was discovered working in a factory. (It was World War II.)
    • An apparently real candid shot of Marilyn without makeup was printed in the biography Goddess. She looked startlingly like Ingrid Bergman, and the caption "Lovelier without makeup" was entirely deserved.
  • Amanda Palmer wears wacky costumes onstage, but there's plenty of pictures of her completely dressed down. She looks extremely different without dark lipstick and eyeliner on, but she still looks quite beautiful. And her hair is always unkempt looking.
  • Evangeline Lilly; supposedly the actors don't put on makeup when they're on an island far away from civilization.
  • Seychelle Gabriel dons a makeup-free face as Lourdes in the post-apocalyptic universe of TNT's Falling Skies.
  • The seventeenth-century poets Ben Jonson and Robert Herrick both wrote poems about this trope.
  • According to legend, Richard Burton proposed to Elizabeth Taylor after seeing her freshly awoken, without make-up and with pillow hair, and wearing a decidedly unsexy pair of flannel pyjamas.
  • Helena Bonham Carter seems nearly incapable of being a Kempt Beauty; any photo of her out of character will almost invariably have her hair looking utterly wild.
  • Clive Owen's bed surely travels with him. He always seems to have awoken up five minutes ago, even when he kills mooks with carrots.
  • Mia Wasikowska, when her hair is long, anyway, looks like a real-life River Tam. Her haircare routine seems to consist of two steps: 1. Wash it. 2. Maybe comb it.
  • Edward Furlong is this trope embodied. His hair is always long and messy, his clothes are always loose and he's partial to plaid flannel shirts and torn jeans, yet he's quite the Mr. Fanservice, especially in his youth.
    • Lessened as of late, as chronic drug and alcohol abuse have taken their toll.
  • Robert Pattinson is known for very unkempt hair and usually unshaven appearance, yet is seen as a heartthrob by many people.
  • Much of artist Phil Noto's work has this aesthetic, and he's cited 1960s pin-ups as a big influence on his style.
  • Many of Annie Leibovitz's photos are of people undressed or dressed down, particularly a series in the book Women, featuring Vegas showgirls in and out of costume.
  • Michelle Rodriguez has a sexy down to Earth tough girl look with little to no make-up. Seeing her in a dress and all dolled up is unnerving to say the least.
  • Beyoncé without makeup.
  • Invoked by the Powers That Be behind the Official Stargate Conventions when they started offering two options for photo ops with Michael Shanks: scruffy, unkempt Michael, or the suavely dressed, shaven version.
  • Former child star Mara Wilson tends to have this look when she shows up in the occasional "where are they now" type article. According to the woman herself, photographers just have a knack for catching her when her hair is a mess.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, Zooey Deschanel's make-up free selfie.
  • Also, Emilia Clarke with no makeup
  • Spanish actor Jordi Mollà somehow keeps ending up looking like he just rolled out of bed in many of his, er, roles, notably in Bad Boys II and his Bacardi spot, even when he does clean up.
  • Mark Ruffalo has been cited as "cinema's leading purveyor of rumpled, bed-headed sexiness". This is an incredibly accurate statement.
  • Alicia Keys opted for a more natural look, showcasing it for the cover art of her 2016 album Here.
  • In his younger days, Eddie Vedder. Despite generally looking like he'd just thrown on whatever clothes came to hand when he'd gotten out of bed he had (and still has) plenty of fangirls (and fanboys). The Seattle grunge scene in general was rife with (primarily male, although not all) examples of this, including Chris Cornell (although Cornell's look was usually somewhat tidier than Vedder's)
    • Kurt Cobain takes the cake in some people's minds. Despite wearing increasingly contrived combinations of thrift-store trash (he got married on the beach while wearing only ugly plaid pajamas and a granny purse), and despite having perpetually greasy hair and permastubble, his sensitive, tormented expression and very blue eyes made him quite attractive to a lot of people. Anecdotally, quite a few men questioned their sexuality over Kurt.
  • On her 39th birthday, Rosario Dawson posted some nude selfies of herself on Instagram, where she appears to have no make-up. One of the more SFW images.
  • Pedro Pascal merited an online GQ article praising his ability to pull off neglecting to professionally groom his mustache. Judging by comments on photoshoots he did in anticipation of The Mandalorian Season 2 and Wonder Woman 1984, Messy Hair and patchy stubble don't ruin his sex appeal, either.


Video Example(s):


Taylor gets electrocuted

Taylor electrocutes herself while opening a hole in the force field keeping Frankie imprisoned. She's ashen, but still gorgeous afterward.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / UnkemptBeauty

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