Skip to main content

F is for Face ON: Please Wear (Appropriate) Makeup to Work

Sure, we should be judged on our abilities, not on our looks. Get real, says a P&G study about how makeup affects perception of our skills.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
A study confirms makeup affects perception of competence_NYTimes

So P&G funded a study about how cosmetics affect what people think about us. Apparently, until now, no-one had ever made a direct correlation between appropriate makeup and perception of competence, at least not in an official-investigation way.

In the study carried out by researchers from Harvard as well as Boston University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 149 adults assessed photographs of 25 women of various heritage and ages wearing three different makeup looks each: natural, professional and glamorous.

The results? There is no escaping that what we look like matters.

According to this NYTimes piece by Catherine Saint Louis, the right makeup application ups the perception of likeability, competence and trustworthiness. And we're talking judgement via women as well as men -- out of the 149 participants, 61 were men.

Stanford University law professor and author of The Beauty Bias (Oxford University Press, 2010) Deborah Rhode is quoted as saying, "The quality of my teaching shouldn't depend on the color of my lipstick or whether I've got mascara on.... We like individuals in the job market to be judged on the basis of competence, not cosmetics."

Work-appropriate makeup

I think maybe she's leaving human nature out of the equation. What's your take? Perhaps it's time to wear makeup to work if you don't already? (For a how-to for the above look, click here.)