On men and how much makeup they like

Yet another press article has appeared about a recent study from the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology suggesting men find women with less makeup more attractive. I keep ignoring this but feel the need to point out a few small issues with the study;

– The women were told to put on makeup as though they were preparing for a “big night out” then photographed in a daylight styled lighting. People often wear more makeup in low light situations as the low light makes features less distinct. What looks good in a darkened restaurant, nightclub or theatre is not the same as what looks by day.

– The study involved 44 people. Not the most impressive sample size for the generalised makeup commentary that seems to come from this study. What about culture factors? Bangor university is towards the west of Wales and a distinctly different place culturally from a big city. I’d love to see this replicated over multiple geographies. This French study seems to show a distinct preference in tips from male customers to waitresses in more distinctive makeup.

– Finally, and perhaps most annoyingly for me, is the assumption that all makeup is being worn for men. My experience is that women are more likely to wear makeup to feel more attractive in themselves, and to a large extent signal certain things about their social status. (I realise there is an argument that we have all intregrated the desire to be pleasing to the male gaze, but I look at things like nail art and think – no, that’s not being done for men. Not at all.) I personally am not wearing makeup on a daily basis to attract a man (“already snagged me one of ’em” I say in my most ocker Aussie accent). In truth I run into very few men at all in my day to day run of stay at home mum duties, men are largely absent from my sphere of small children and domestic chores and erranfs. I suspect the same is true for many women. I wear makeup to look more like the person I feel like inside, or the person I want to be. My daily makeup makes me look slightly less tired, less blotchy skin, someone who spends some time on herself and not just her kids. So many of the groundbreaking research articles I read rely on the premise women wear makeup to attract men without questioning it or examining the premise in detail. It’s lazy science and lazy journalism to keep repeating this in the same way.

Are you wearing makeup to lure the men folk in? Does the knowledge men like less makeup make a jot of difference to you?


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