Does Wearing Makeup To Work Actually Matter?

08/16/2016 03:14 pm ET Updated Aug 18, 2016

For the average woman in today’s society, makeup has almost become a necessity. There’s no way we can leave the house without our “face” on. This happens to be especially true for working women, particularly those in corporate America. But do we really have to wear makeup?

How important is it anyway? 

To get some insight on what people really think, I used PhotoFeeler to run an experiment. PhotoFeeler is a website where you can upload a profile picture to get unbiased feedback from people.

I uploaded my pictures into the business category where people vote on how competent, likeable and influential you look.

Two identical pictures were used, but with just one important distinction. In one I had makeup on, and in the other I didn’t. It was practically the same exact pose. Let’s take a look at the results.

Needless to say, the results were a bit surprising. I thought the picture with makeup was going to do MUCH better in every category. But that wasn’t the case.

Is it possible that our thoughts on makeup in the workplace have been wrong all along?

Is it possible that our thoughts on makeup in the workplace have been wrong all along?

I took a look at the anonymous comments that people left for each picture. Here are some comments about the picture without makeup.

  • “Would prefer if the photo were a bit more professional. This looks more like a Saturday afternoon look.”
  • “This person seems friendly in her environment, a closed type of woman, logical thinking based.”

Here’s what they had to say about the picture with makeup.

  • “Outfit, makeup, hair extremely well put together. Very competent and likeable.”
  • “Great photo!”
  • “The other picture without all the makeup looks much better and you look much prettier without the makeup.”

Naturally people have different biases and opinions on appearance, so let’s take a look at how the actual stats break down.

Each picture had 100 votes, which is viewed by PhotoFeeler to be a statistically significant sample size. When it comes to being competent, wearing makeup didn’t have much of an impact. When you look at the vote distribution between both pictures, they are almost identical.

When it comes to being competent, wearing makeup didn’t have much of an impact.

 We see a similar pattern in the likeable section. The vote distribution varies a little more this time, but still not a significant difference. Wearing makeup made me look just 5% more likeable.

Last but not least, influential. This is where it gets interesting. Here we see a statistically significant variance. I was viewed about 30 percent more influential with makeup on!

More than ever, women are obsessed with “leaning in” and fighting for equality in the workplace. How many articles have you read about breaking through the glass ceiling? It turns out that the answer can be as simple as actually showing some femininity and wearing makeup.

Talk about the irony!

There are countless studies proving how critically important influence is in the workplace. People who are viewed as influential are the ones who rapidly get promotions and advance their career.

As Jayson Demers, CEO of AudienceBloom said,

Influence is power. No matter who you are, where you work, or what your professional goals are, achieving more influence in the workplace is critical for success.

As ambitious women, maybe it’s time we put aside our feelings on makeup in the workplace and just do what’s best for our career. The numbers don’t lie. Wearing makeup may help you excel in your career.

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Check out makeupmev.com to find more information on how to do your makeup quickly for work so you don’t worry about people judging you negatively.

Mevla Humet is an expert in the makeup industry with a psychology background. She also works as a freelance makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics. You can follow her on social media to keep up with new products, trends and makeup looks.

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