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Why We Wear Makeup

Image of woman wearing sunglasses.

Makeup is so common in our society, that we may never really stop to think about why we wear it. In recent years, though, scientists have started to look at what effects a little foundation, eye shadow or liner, blush or lipstick can have on our appearance and the people around us.

What Drives You to Make Up

Everyone has their own reason for putting on makeup, but here are a few common reasons for dressing up your face:

  • You just like it. Sure, you want other people to admire your makeup when you leave your home, but when it comes down to it, makeup just makes you feel good about yourself. This matters because guess who’s looking back at you in the mirror — you!
  • It looks good. You said it. Makeup can make you look downright pretty. And because there are so many ways to apply makeup, you can always find something beautiful to suit your mood or for that special occasion.
  • It hides what you don’t need. There’s a reason some makeup is called concealer. Sometimes you just want to hide those things that pop up on your face when you least want them—like dark circles under your eyes, pimples, blackheads or irritated skin.
  • It’s an extension of your true self. Think of your face as a canvas and your makeup as the paint. Whatever your tastes, you can find something that brings your personality to the world—from reserved and quiet to dramatic and sexy.

The Hidden Power of Makeup

We may be fully aware when we put on makeup, but a little lipstick or rouge can have subtle effects on those around us, and even on ourselves. Here’s how:

  • Red lipstick all the way. Research shows that having red lips can boost how attractive a woman appears to others. Another study found that men approached women in a bar more quickly if the women were wearing red lipstick, compared to brown, pink or no lipstick.
  • Laying the foundation. One of the selling points of foundation is that it gives you a more even skin tone, which may make you look healthier. It turns out that this may give your beauty the biggest boost. One study found that foundation had the most impact on how attractive women appeared to men.
  • The eyes have it. In another study, though, eye makeup had the biggest impact on a woman’s attractiveness—if she was being judged by another woman. This may because eyeliner, mascara and eye shadow give the eyes a more youthful look by making the eyes look larger.
  • Do blush. Blushing may be a sign of embarrassment, but it’s also a subtle signal that a woman is in the middle of her ovulation cycle—the time when she is most fertile. Research has also linked the color red with sex appeal. So artificial blush may mimic this look, with women giving off a signal of sexual arousal or interest.
  • A healthy boost. As you may have guessed, makeup can make you look healthier. Research backs this up. In one study, women wearing makeup appeared not only healthier, but also more confident and likely to earn more money, compared to their au naturel counterparts.

While most studies on the hidden powers of makeup have been done on women, men may also get a boost to their appearance from smoothing out their complexion, making their features a little more symmetrical or sharing their personality with the world.

If you aren’t sure how to best express yourself with makeup, your makeup professional can help you create your own signature, and stunning look.

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