Are we wearing too much makeup? UK study says yes.
The headline of a provacative Atlantic article today says women are wearing makeup "because they mistakenly think men like it."
Oh, realllllly. The story is based on a new study from researchers at Bangor University and Aberdeen University in the U.K.
The researchers photographed the freshly washed faces of 44 white women in their early 20s. Then they asked the women to apply makeup from an assortment of products as if they were going out for the night. The researchers took pictures of their faces again, and produced a progression of 21 images for each model from clean-faced to completely made-up for the night.
The researchers asked university students to pick which picture from each model's series they found most attractive, as well as the image they thought the model would like best and which one they thought men would prefer.
Both men and women preferred women with less makeup than they applied. They thought the women looked best wearing 60 percent of what they put on.
Women thought the models looked better with a little more makeup than the men did, and everyone said they thought men would prefer more makeup. But that wasn't proven by the results.
"Taken together, these results suggest that women are likely wearing cosmetics to appeal to the mistaken preferences of others," the researchers wrote in the study, to be published by the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. "These mistaken preferences seem more tied to the perceived expectancies of men, and, to a lesser degree, of women."
Some caveats before we launch into a heated debate. The researchers focused on a small community in Wales (read: not a lot of diversity), so, as The Atlantic points out, beauty standards may vary around the world. I will add that I would have been interested to see the reaction of makeup for work versus a night out.
At Deal Divas, we talk about makeup quite a bit out of love for new or favorite products and tricks. But we also respect our friend of Deal Divas who gave it up for a month (No Makeup November) and shared the perks and her insecurities. But even she said back then, "Turns out the opposite sex doesn't care as much as thought."
Let's talk about the study! Agree, disagree? Why do women tend to exaggerate our look for nights out? For whom are we primping in the morning? And why does everyone, men and women alike, assume guys prefer women who wear more?