For some women, wearing lipstick is integral to feeling feminine, which may explain why the average woman eats seven pounds of lipstick in a lifetime.
But can spending an few extra minutes applying your makeup actually make you appear more trustworthy or competent at your job?
According to a new study funded by Procter & Gamble in partnership with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston University, sort of.
The study examined the relationship between the amount of makeup a woman wears and her perceived attractiveness, competence, likability, and trustworthiness in the eyes of others. To investigate a possible correlation, researchers took a group of 25 subjects, including African-American, Hispanic, and white women varying in age from 20 to 50 and photographed them first without makeup, then in three stages of "made up": "natural," "professional" and "glamorous." The photos were then shown to 149 adults -- 61 of them men -- for 250 milliseconds at a time, during which they were asked to judge each subject on the four traits mentioned above.
A separate group of 119 adults, including 30 men, were given the photos and given as much time as they wanted to examine them before judging the subjects on the same four traits.
The results showed that makeup can greatly enhance a first impression no matter how much you put on, boosting women's ratings in attractiveness, likability, competence, and trustworthiness across the board, but that a little eyeshadow can mean the difference between being admired and not being trusted. Nancy Etcoff, lead author and associate researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, told ABC that when participants "got to the more dramatic makeup looks, people saw them as equally likable and much more attractive and competent, but less trustworthy" but that "dramatic makeup was no longer an advantage compared to when people saw the photos very quickly."
The New York Times suggested that women can use this information to control their images around the office. Sarah Vickery, a co-author of the study, recommended a deeper lip color for “times when you want to give a powerful 'I'm in charge here' kind of impression," and softer tones for "collaborative appeal" when you need to work in a group setting.
Is this report reason to change your look or the amount of makeup you wear? Not so fast. Speaking to ABC, Ann Kearney-Cooke, director of the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute, emphasized that while the study shows how other people view you, it shouldn't impact how you view yourself: "Your warmth, confidence and energy attract others to you. There's nothing more attractive than a confident woman with a voice of her own."
We want to hear what you think: can a little more mascara make you feel empowered, more competent, attractive, and likable? Or are you most comfortable makeup-free?
We thought we'd get the conversation started by asking around the office. Sara Gaynes, associate editor at Huffington Post Healthy Living, told us, "My grandmother used to ... tell me to put makeup on to take the trash out because you never know who you'll meet in the driveway. I love wearing makeup because she is right." Emma Gray, assistant editor, HuffPost Women and HuffPost Parents, likes the feeling of a makeup-free face at the end of the day: "Washing off your makeup can be sort of a cathartic experience -- washing away your day, no matter what happened." Farah Miller, managing editor of HuffPost Parents, said, "When I put eyeliner on I feel better about my overall appearance. Ditto for lip gloss. I don't know how to put any other types of makeup on correctly. I am pretty sure I'm not putting the eyeliner on right either because even when I do put it on, it looks like I haven't."
Let us know how you feel about wearing (or not wearing) makeup: Tweet @HuffPostWomen with the hashtag #MyBestFace. We'll compile our favorite responses in a slideshow below.
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