When you blitz through your makeup routine for the day, what's your goal? To look more polished? More awake? More attractive? No matter the reason, if you're wearing makeup, there's at least one undeniable, universal aim: to elevate or alter your natural beauty. And thus, it shouldn't come as any surprise that when you present the finished result to the world, other people take notice—and might make certain assumptions about your personality based on your look. (Ah, life as a woman.)
This isn't conjecture, but science: In a recent study, researchers at the University of Stirling in Scotland used computer software to apply "makeup" to a series of images of women. They then presented these images to male and female volunteers, and asked them some questions—and the answers were pretty telling.
Unsurprisingly, the men found the faces with makeup more attractive. On the flip side, the women also felt more threatened by the made-up faces than the ones who weren't, and guessed that they were more promiscuous.
But before you start shaking your fist at the patriarchy, breathe—it's not all depressingly stereotypical. The researchers actually found that both men and women associated a made-up face with a more elevated status, and the female participants perceived the images with makeup as more dominant.
And lead researcher Viktoria Mileva makes an excellent point about how these results can be used to a woman's advantage. "At a job interview, knowing whether the hiring committee will consist of men or women might influence a female candidate's decision about wearing makeup," she says. "Whether the interviewers will view her as attractive, dominant and/or prestigious can affect her and the interviewer's actions and perhaps the outcome of the interview itself." In a perfect world, a qualified woman wouldn't have to factor her appearance in at all—but as long as we're playing the game, why not own the rule book?
On that note, shop the world's most flattering lipsticks.