The power of cosmetics

by Jun 7, 20151 comment


Do you ever consider the power of cosmetics?

A video of South Korean woman showing viewers how to remove makeup goes viral with more than 7 million hits,  after she uploaded a video called “how to remove your face”.

[Tweet “The power of cosmetics is very obvious when you look at the result.”]

Her tutorial shows viewers how to remove makeup, as she wipes foundation, eye shadow and more, from one side of her face only leaving the other fully made up. The difference is quite striking.

Why should this matter?

[Tweet “Sadly, women who wear make up are considered to be more competent than those who don’t.”]

Research shows that wearing makeup increases people’s perceptions of a woman’s likability, her competence and (provided she does not overdo it) her trustworthiness, according to a study carried out in 2011.  This also confirmed what is obvious: that cosmetics are perceived to boost what is considered to be a woman’s attractiveness.

But we women understand well, that ladies who wear make up are just wearing cosmetics. [Tweet “They could be complete fruit loops, nasty people and rotten at their jobs. “] But the power of cosmetics is far reaching.

Since Leonardo da Vinci, we have known that symmetrical faces are considered more beautiful, and that people perceive good looking individuals as more intelligent and good.  [Tweet “Well perception is everything. “] Women wearing make up are reported feel more confident and are considered to be more likeable.


Funded by Procter & Gamble, with brands such as CoverGirl and Dolce & Gabbana makeup in their portfolio, the study was executed by researchers from  Boston University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 25 female subjects, aged 20 to 50 of varied ethnicity, were photographed “au naturel”  with three additional looks that researchers called “natural, professional and glamorous”. They were not allowed to look in a mirror, to avoid influencing the observers by projecting their own feelings on to them.

149 adults (including 61 men) judged the pictures for 250 milliseconds each, enough time to make a snap judgment. Then 119 different adults (including 30 men) were given unlimited time to look at the same faces.

The participants judged women made up in varying intensities of luminance contrast (in street speak for you and me how  eyes and lips stand out compared with skin)  as more competent than barefaced women, whether they had a quick glance or a longer inspection.

However it was also noted beauty can be a double edged  sword as it can be associated with low levels of trust.  In that case, it has been suggested, that women opt for lip tones that are light to moderate in colour saturation, providing contrast to facial skin, but not being too glossy.

[Tweet “There is no doubt that beauty pays dividends. It shouldn’t, but it does.”]

Back to Darwin

In an article published by Psychology Today  Theresea E DiDonato identifies 5 research backed reasons why women wear make up. All link to basic Darwinism and the perpetuation and survival of the species and the connection to “reproductive fitness.”

[Tweet “The power of cosmetics simply reinforces this idea”].

There are a few physical characteristics which across all cultures are considered to be the benchmarks of beauty. Youth indicates a high level of fertility, while skin homogeneity suggest general good health  – also perfect for making babies. Combine that with full lips and blushed cheeks,  all subliminally connected to sexual arousal fuels the hypothesis further. Make-up just adds to those inbuilt perceptions.

So do you wear make-up? Take this poll!

Fashion Junkie Contributor
Fashion Junkie is a Gen Y closet fashion fiend. By day she is an industrial engineer with a passion for clothes and trends, at night she is a glam fashionista. She loves to Benettonize her friends' closets and moonlights at weekends sharing her ideas about clothes for women who care about how they look, recognises that some games need to be played, but without selling their souls. Above all she wants the judgement of women's appearance in the workplace to be reduced to the same level as men. She is not so much out of the box but was never really in it!

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