07 Oct
Mouthing Off: On Makeup & Character

Hello, there! I’m here today conducting a highly scientific research study. If you could kindly take a moment to answer the following questions:

1. Have you recently run to the grocery store without first checking the mirror to freshen your face?

2. Have you hosted a playdate in your living room without thinking about putting on some makeup?

3. Do you go to work fresh-faced and makeup-free?

4. Ever let your husband and/or children see you in the morning BEFORE APPLYING YOUR FACE?!

If you answered “yes” or “sometimes” or “maybe” to any of the above questions, I’m afraid I have some unsettling news:


No, it’s true! Or, at least it’s true according to a recent study published by Harvard-educated scientists and psychologists. If you want to believe THOSE hacks.

::applies foundation::

As part of that study, 25 women were given four looks. One was no makeup, one was “natural” makeup, another was “professional” makeup, and the final was “glamorous.” Each look was photographed, which created 100 images. Those images were then shown to two groups of people, and each of them was asked to rate the person’s trustworthiness, character, and attractiveness.

::blushes cheeks::

GUESS WHO LOST?! That’s right. You there, with no makeup on. YOU LOST. THE WORLD HATES YOU.

::curls lashes::

It was concluded that the women wearing no makeup were the lowest rated in all three categories. This was the result for onlookers who had anywhere from a moment to unlimited time to analyze the photo and make their assertions. So no more au naturel for you, eh?

Except, wait a minute.

Because, for a study being conducted by such renowned scientists, this study is utterly unscientific. I’m no PhD, but I vaguely remember something about VARIABLES (also something about Buckyballs, but I don’t think that’s applicable here). The fact that it’s entirely comprised of qualitative data should also raise a flag or two. Furthermore, it’s a fairly small-scale study…something that should only suggest further study is needed, and not something that should draw any conclusions about my complexion, because IT’S GENETIC, OK?! GET OFF ME.

Oh! And there’s one! more! thing! There’s also the fact that this study was sponsored by none other than Proctor & Gamble. A company that has just released a new makeup line based on Bio-Chromatics, which “combines the principles of chemistry, optics and psychology to create biology-based color products.”


Bitch, PLEASE.

I think it’s already fairly well established that our culture prefers pretty things, pretty people…even pretty thoughts. But modern women? I daresay we are smarter, more unified, and stronger than ever. So don’t you dare insult us with your little makeup pseudo-science.

(I don’t care WHAT you say about the pimple in the middle of my forehead.)

Because the result *I’m* seeing here is that the world has some seriously skewed images of character. By no means does this have *anything* to do with our friggin’ mascara.


18 Responses to “Mouthing Off: On Makeup & Character”


Comment by Desperate Dietwives.

Proctor & Gamble already lost at least one customer a few years ago ^_^ (http://wendi-aarons.blogspot.com/2007/03/as-seen-on-mcsweeneysnet.html).
Now I’m afraid they are losing many more… 😀


Comment by Cate8.

Just not fair…and men never (well rarely) wear make-up because if they have a bad complexion they can just grow a beard. Although I might be able to in a few years if I stop plucking my chin hair


Comment by hokgardner.

I almost never wear make-up. I guess I’m an untrustworthy loser.

And you mean composed of, not comprised of.


Comment by ziggyzabel.

I hardly ever wear make-up myself, and I agree that the conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt – but there’s really nothing wrong with the study itself, or the conclusions it draws.
It has been previously shown that attractive people are expected to be more competent on the job and at life in general, and that makes sense (sources in the discussion section of the linked study). Physical attractiveness is an outward sign of health and wealth. This study just takes it a step further and tells us something we all know: that wearing make-up is for making us look pretty.

What you choose to do with this information is up to you – personally, I don’t have a job that requires cultivating relationships with clients based on trust and competence, and my husband seriously can barely tell the difference between no make-up and out-on-the-town make-up, so I don’t sweat it much.

Here’s the original study, in case anyone wants to read it without the Jezebel spin:

There are actually 4 catagories – in the ‘trustworthy’ catagory there wasn’t much of a difference. Also in the ‘likability’ catagory, unlimited glamorous makeup dropped to the same levels as no make-up. So I guess the take-away message is that first impressions are important, but no one wants to work with a brazen hussy?


Comment by Tonya.

Well we all know how much respect and admiration Tammy Fey Baker got (did I just date myself?) so obviously this research is totally legit.
This is probably why I’m not a high-powered CEO. I don’t wear eye shadow.


Comment by devillerouge.

I only put on makeup if i’m getting dolled up for “date night”. I’ve noticed the lack of interest and attention–but that might have something to do with the sweatpants and lack of shower…

aaah, motherhood.

I am always in awe of other moms who actually have on eyeliner. I suppose you have to make choices with your morning. My choices involved coffee and Xanax, which left very little time for gettin “dolled up”

Murray's Momma Reply:

Well said! I’m right there with you. 🙂


Comment by I'm a big ol' b with a captial B!.

I am a makeup whore. I fully admit I love it. I have a ton of it and I use it every day. No, not all at once, silly. But every day I do foundation, blush, at least one shadow (normally just a natural wash of color to brighten lash to brow), mascara and something on my lips. Sometimes I go for liner. That said, it takes literally 4 minutes to do makeup. It’s just something I do to feel polished and have fun. I love playing with color.

Now, we won’t talk about the sweats I’m wearing or the mess my hair is… But darn it, I have my makeup on!


Comment by Wendi.

Maybe I should start sleeping in my makeup so I seem more trustworthy if someone breaks in to kill me.

And “Bio-Chromatics”? Not quite as sexy as “Wet ‘n Wild.”


Comment by Murray's Momma.

Let’s see, I’m in desperate need of an eyebrow wax, I haven’t used make-up since April, and my hair is constantly in a messy ponytail. According to society, I’m a hot mess.

Great post! 🙂



Comment by Megan.

People actually are nicer to me when I don’t wear makeup. Maybe they feel sorry for me.


Comment by HerMelness Speaks.

I don’t wear make-up. That boat sailed eons ago. I now have my own team of plumbers and plasterers who service me before I leave the house…and who also lift and/or re-grout my pelvic floor if it’s collapsed again. Me with no makeup? You can’t handle the me with no makeup. With or without it, though, I remain sometimes trustworthy.


Comment by Jenni.

Amen, Sister! I go around without makeup and I don’t think my character is too flawed…my complexion ~ maybe, but not my character. Thanks for the great post!


Comment by vodka tonic.

Cancer, schmancer. Let’s funnel our time and efforts into researching attitudes on mascara.


Comment by erin@mommyonthespot.

Oh, that is no coincidence. That is horrible.


Comment by Poker Chick.

Not sure what kind of study this was, but as someone who frequently conducts market research for a living that sounds like two focus groups which wouldn’t be even directional, much less scientific. Absolutely zero conclusions can be drawn from that. You could show it to two other groups and hear the opposite! In fact, any researcher worth their SALT will tell you that data is unreliable, thus proving the quackhood of whoever ran that study.

That’s a scientific term, that “quackhood”, by the way.


Comment by Kay.

Actually, Unilever gets a lot of my business, especially after they did this commercial for Dove. Yippy for a company that seems to really worry about little kids views of themselves!!!



Comment by Alexandra Lynch.

I actually do, but I do a very minimalist makeup. I have a disease that thins my eyebrows out until I have only half of them. So every morning I get up and put my eyebrows on. I also put on lip stain in a fairly boring non-interesting rose shade, and sometimes some powder foundation across my nose. I don’t have to worry about the lip stain all day, so that’s about the level of fuss I want to deal with. Otherwise, not unless I’m going out on a date, and then not unless we’re going clubbing. (That’s different.)

Of course, my kids are old enough for me to make that happen.

The thing that takes me time and fuss is getting my hair up. It’s hiplength and braiding that does take a few minutes. I have yelled, “The less you fuss me while I’m putting up my hair, the sooner it will be done and I will BE THERE!” at someone. Often followed by something like, “And your shoes aren’t hanging from the ceiling fan, so look on the floor under your desk while you wait!”

Consider Checking Out...