IMAGE: CORBIS IMAGES
Almost every morning after my daily ritual of a shower, I face my dressing table and stare at the mountain of products I’ve accumulated. From foundations to mascaras, they all bear the same similarity – used a couple of times and then neglected altogether.
During the morning staring competition, I ask myself the same question – is my skin good enough to go out without wearing any make-up? If I’m lucky and my skin is great, I sit on this question for a couple more minutes. But more often than I like to admit, I succumb and grab the foundation as a sign of surrender.
I like to believe that I’m not alone in this. A couple of girlfriends I spoke to swear they cannot go outdoors without the bare minimum – foundation, eyeliner, blusher, and the must-have eyebrow pencil. But why? Why is it so difficult to step out of the house with the face we were born with? I believe I speak for many women when I say make-up makes us feel complete. It hides our flaws and accentuates our beauty. Plus, we are then always photo-ready when the occasion calls for it.
So it was a really stark surprise when my boyfriend (of all people) sent me an article about a study that claimed men prefer women who wear less make-up. According to science, it seems he is actually right. An article published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology found that men preferred women with less make-up on. The study gave 44 women different types of make-up, and got them to doll up as if they were headed out for a night on the town. Their photos were then taken and digitally enhanced, so that each model ended up looking like she was wearing varying amounts of make-up, ranging from nothing to a “full face” of slap; there were a total of 21 different versions.
Forty-four male and female students from Bangor University were then shown the photos, and were told to pick the ones they found the most attractive, as well as the photos they thought were attractive to the opposite sex. The study revealed that men found women to be most attractive with 40 percent less make-up than the completely made-up “going out” look, whereas women liked the models who were more dolled up.
The researchers then concluded that women were dolling up for a perceived standard of beauty that they believed had been set by men. “Taken together, these results suggest that women are likely wearing cosmetics to appeal to the mistaken preferences of others. These mistaken preferences seem more tied to the perceived expectancies of men, and, to a lesser degree, of women,” said the report. Essentially, the researchers found that women were dolling up because they thought the men liked it.
Do I agree with the study? Not one bit. I believe many women want to feel confident in their own skin, and everyone deserves a chance to look good whichever way they deem fit. For women who feel the need to doll up for someone else, don’t. At the end of the day, the reason for you slapping on foundation should never come from anyone but yourself. And beauty, after all, is famously in the eye of the beholder.