How makeup changes the way others perceive your competence, likability, attractiveness and trustworthiness
Makeup is expensive, time consuming, often confusing and sometimes just not worth the effort, especially when you consider that extra 35 minutes sleep you could have had or maybe how you could have actually finished that chocolate croissant your partner bought you from your favourite patisserie from the other side of the city.
I am not a morning person so my feelings toward extra sleep or chocolate croissant consumption may not be shared but I do often find myself feeling resentful of the male morning routine. Yes they have to shave their faces but we females also have to curl/straighten/blow dry our hair into a professional coiffure on the daily so in my opinion the comparison doesn’t count. What I have wondered though is, what does makeup actually add for me in terms of my professionalism?
In a study examining the effects of the extended phenotype on personality assessment (extended phenotype is the scientific term for makeup) researchers found that women were rated higher on competence, likeability, attractiveness and trustworthiness when they were wearing makeup compared to when they were not. The study used 4 different versions of the same woman, from no makeup, to minimal makeup (the natural look), to moderate makeup (professional) and finally, dramatic (the glamorous look). What was interesting in the results was that although women were rated the highest when they had the glamorous look, when participants viewing the photos were given unlimited time, women with the glamorous look were rated significantly lower on likability and trustworthiness. Women with the natural makeup look were rated the most trustworthy regardless of time spent looking at the photo and those women with no makeup were rated the lowest on all four measures, regardless of time spent looking at the photos.
What does this tell us about wearing makeup to work? If we want our colleagues to perceive us as being higher on competence, likeability, attractiveness and trustworthiness, we should be wearing makeup to work. Beware though, if you’re going for the glamorous look, be prepared to be liked and trusted less.
If in doubt, refer to the prophetic statement about makeup in the 1966 Beatles’ song, Eleanor Rigby, “…wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door. Who is it for?”