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Makeup Is Actually A Career Investment

According to a new study, makeup might actually be an investment.

Makeup makes women appear more professionally competent, a Harvard University and Boston University joint study finds.

The researchers studied Caucasian, African-American and Hispanic women age 20-50. They photographed each woman wearing four different levels of makeup:
makeup is an investment, a new study shows
#1: Barefaced
#2: Wearing light/natural levels of makeup
#3: Wearing “daytime” makeup
#4: Wearing “glamorous” makeup

The women who were photographed were not allowed to look in a mirror so that their feelings about how they looked couldn’t affect their expressions.

The researchers gave these photographs to 268 adults, 91 of whom were men and the rest women, and asked these adults to rate each woman’s level of professional competence, likeability and trustworthiness. The adults consistently ranked the barefaced woman as the least competent and least likeable.

Even the woman in “glamorous” nighttime makeup were ranked as more professionally competent than the women wearing no makeup at all.

Roughly half the respondents were allowed to view the photographs for as long as they wanted before giving an answer; the other half were only allowed to take a quick glance and had to voice their gut feeling. This didn’t make a difference in their responses. Both groups — those who spent a long time studying the photos and those who only got a quick glance — ranked the makeup-wearing women as more trustworthy, likeable and competent.

Deborah Rhode, author of the “The Beauty Bias,” doesn’t like the findings.

“The quality of my teaching shouldn’t depend on the color of my lipstick,” Rhode says.

But University of Texas at Austin economics professor Daniel Hamermesh says we have to accept reality at — pardon the pun — face value.

“I think we’d be a fairer world if beauty were not rewarded, but it is.”

Source: Up the Career Ladder, Lipstick in Hand by the New York Times

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Photo courtesy o5com.

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Tiffany - November 7, 2011

I have worn makeup every day since I was 12. I just don’t understand those who don’t…especially in a professional setting!

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter - November 8, 2011

Interesting study indeed. See I don’t think a women has to wear make up persay but I do think she needs to present herself professionally. Make sure you hair is groomed, your face is groomed, and that you dress nice. If you want to use a bit of makeup fine, but it isn’t necessary. What looks professional is a look that looks organized and put together as a whole. This has at least worked for me over the years.

shanendoah@the dog ate my wallet - November 8, 2011

I disagree with Hamermesh. We don’t have to accept this. The perceptions of what makes a person look professional are changing. I bet if the study tracked the difference in perceptions among those in their 40s and those in their 20s, they would see a decided difference.
I don’t feel the need to conform to what people a generation older than me see as professional. I let my work and my references speak to that. And if I were ever to lose out on a job because I didn’t wear make up to the interview, I’m guessing I wouldn’t have wanted to work for those folks anyway. (I did once lose out on a job opportunity because I wasn’t wearing nylons. And I’m still okay with that.)

Hatton - November 9, 2011

Very interesting. I dress well but am not great with hair and make up… I needed this for inspiration!!! Thank you for stopping by on my SITS day!

Aloyas - November 10, 2011

I think in a professional setting a makeup is a must. Otherwise how are you going to look professional and confident? I wear makeup everyday to work and if I am not doing anything on the weekends, I let my skin rest.

    shanendoah@The Dog Ate My Wallet - November 10, 2011

    And that attitude is part of the problem. I can look professional in my dress and behave in a professional manner in my interactions, my confidence is apparent in the way I carry myself, in the way I speak and overall present myself. For some women, make up helps them feel more confident, but it is certainly not a requirement for being professional or confident. So why should it be a requirement for people to think I am professional and confident?

Christina - November 17, 2011

This is the second time I read about this study today- I think it’s a sign [notes to self]. Funny how people change in life. I was the only girl in 6th grade wearing bright blue eyeshadow and red lipstick and continued on w/ heavy makeup wearing for years until a couple years ago when I ditched product for pure. Ahh, there’s got to be a happy medium to be reached

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