Makeup makes you look more competent?

I’ve been meaning to conduct an experiment on career makeup for a very long time now. And I’ve decided today is the day. After a bridal makeup trial this morning, I was discussing with the mother of the bride this article from the New York times,  “Up the Career Ladder, Lip Stick in Hand.” The article reported findings from an very interesting experiment on makeup and how it effects the way people make snap judgements of you. For the experiment they asked about 200+ people (about 80 of them male) to look at photographs of 25 female subjects, aged 20 to 50 and of three different skin tones, white, African-American and Hispanic. They photographed each woman with three looks that researchers called natural, professional and glamorous (no makeup is shown below also). And the viewers gave their opinions.

Photo from the NY Times

Their findings seemed unclear and unscientific. The Times just stated that “Viewers considered the women wearing more makeup to be more competent.” Generally I feel this is true (because I sure do look incompetent without under eye concealer!). But what could have seriously off set the entire experiment was that the testers weren’t looking at the women in-person, they were looking at pictures. And as you may or may not know, makeup shows up very differently on camera. I suppose using photographs would be the easiest way to conduct a controlled experiment, but there are so many different things that you can and can’t see in a photograph (Article to come soon). Also, if you look at the 4 different images above, there is more hair in the other images and they are cropped differently.This could have also majorly affected the perception of the viewers.

I think Bobbi Brown had it right when she said to The Times, “the wrong color on a subject may have caused some testers to conclude that women with high-contrasting makeup were more “untrustworthy.” “People will have a bad reaction if it’s not the right color, not the right texture, or if the makeup is not enhancing your natural beauty.”
I couldn’t agree with you more, Bobbi.

I also think that the makeup you wear everyday should match your lifestyle. Before you put your makeup on, or while you put your makeup on, you need to consider where you are going, who you will be seeing, what the weather is like, what your skin type is like, how you want to feel, what you are wearing… and the list goes on. But trust me when I say this isn’t nearly as complicated as it seems. It might just mean opting out of eye liner. Or taking the time to fill in your brows. It’s really simple if you have the right colors, tools, products and little bit of know-how.

Work appropriate makeup is something that you have to adjust to your specific career, facial structure and coloring. Over the next couple of months I will be conducting an little experiment of my own. I will be traveling all over the city of New York interviewing women about their careers and how they decide to wear their makeup. I will call this great experiment Project Career Makeup. Do you know or are you a woman that would like to share your career makeup regimen? If so, please email me an picture of you, what your career is and how you have perfected your makeup look for your job. Thank you for your entry and I hope to meet you soon!

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