Why Does Makeup Make People More Attractive?

I have always enjoyed using makeup, trying out different eye shadow and lip gloss colors. However, I have always wondered why drawing a black line on someone’s eyelid or darkening the shade of someone’s lips makes them appear more attractive. For some reason, I am intrigued in finding out why makeup, which is made up of oils and chemicals nonetheless, allows people to conceive someone as more being “beautiful.”

Applying makeup is referred to as a type of body decoration in which some consider the “most important of arts” in different societies.  One should know that facial attractiveness plays off of sex differences in facial appearance. The more feminine a woman looks, the more attractive she is said to be. The difference between male and female pigmentation is a contributing factor in how women appear more attractive. In general, women have lighter colored skin than men. It is key to be mindful of the contrast of makeup to the skin for women. The contrast of a woman’s eyes and lips to her face creates a perception she is more attractive, as long as the intensity of the contrast is strong. Makeup assists in emphasizing this contrast of the skin versus the eyes and lips; thus, the women appear more attractive to men. Biological factors can play a large role in how makeup is effective in different societies. One could examine traditional Geisha apprentice cosmetics looks versus typical American teenage girls looks. The traditional Geisha apprentices wore white paint and dark lipstick, while American girls often wear foundation that compliments their skin tones and lightly shaded lip glosses.   Both looks are said to be attractive in different places.

It has been found that males approve of prominent cheekbones, large eyes, smooth skin, and small noses. Although a person cannot (at least naturally) change their facial features, one can enhance them through various techniques, which involve makeup. For example, one can contour their cheekbones to appear more prominent and use eye shadow to enhance the size and shape of her eyes.

Basic experiments have been conducted, testing the makeup’s power on enhancing one’s looks using before-after facial stimulus.  One study was conducted using 16 male and 16 female subjects who judged four females in different makeup combinations. The women were found significantly more attractive with the makeup on. Interestingly enough, the four women had more positive personality ratings when wearing the makeup as well. An older study was performed in which 8 male and 8 female subjects rated 32 college students on whether or not they were more attractive with or without makeup. The women subjects did not really find the women more attractive with the applied makeup like the men had.

One of the most interesting experiments was performed to find out whether women received more tips while wearing makeup. A waitress served two groups of people (in total, one hundred and seventy-four people) for five days a week for six weeks. She served sixteen lunches with makeup and fifteen without makeup. After analyzing various components to this experiment, it was confirmed that the times in which the waitress wore makeup, she received a higher tip on average.

Makeup has proven to really enhance women’s looks, making them appear more attractive in the eyes of others. The manipulation of contrasts with the eyes and lips against skin tone is the key reason makeup affects the attractiveness of a person. Makeup can alter ‘imperfections’ of the face as well as alter the confidence and self-esteem a person obtains.


Closeup portrait of a woman applying dry cosmetic tonal foundation on the face using makeup brush.

Closeup portrait of a woman applying dry cosmetic tonal foundation on the face using makeup brush.

14 thoughts on “Why Does Makeup Make People More Attractive?

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  3. Isabel Linares-Martin

    Wow, this is by far one of my favorite blogs! I love makeup and I almost never leave the house without it on. I love the way makeup has the ability to change the way we look, making us feel beautiful. The most interesting part about this blog was the study of the waitress. I can’t believe that she received more tips when she wore makeup compared to when she didn’t. Makeup is truly powerful!

  4. Ryan Metz

    This is a very intriguing topic to me, as a boy. I, as I would assume other boys do as well, hate makeup. Yes, it makes girls look prettier or covers blemishes but it does not make a girl prettier. Eventually the girl is going to be seen without makeup and she looks how she really looks. I would rather see a girl with pimples or any other blemishes on her face than see her wearing makeup to cover it up. In my opinion, it is like hiding something. As a guy who has had plenty of pimples throughout my life, I have become so comfortable and confident with myself, no matter what. No one is perfect so there is no reason to try to cover up imperfections.

  5. Jada Baity

    I am a makeup lover myself and it is amazing to me how just a little mascara on the eyes instantly makes that person more attractive to other people. Since the beginning of time, men have viewed certain things on a woman to be attractive. The same thing goes for women with other men. There seems to be an ingrained code in all of us that finds certain things more attractive than others. Why? Because, as this article suggest, we actually like faces that are more symmetrical. And makeup allows us to make our faces look more symmetrical than they actually are which is why makeup allows people to look more attractive to others.

  6. Sarah Elizabeth Stiffler

    I really like this topic! Being a girl, I always feel the pressure to wear makeup. I have always been curious as to why it makes people more attractive. I had a theory that it is because it seems like you are trying more, which people like to see. All of your data seems accurate as well, especially the part about cheekbones. I’m glad you wrote about this!

  7. Margaret Mary Kreienberg

    What an interesting topic. I don’t wear makeup that much but when I do decide to put it on I only use eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara. My skin is fairly good so foundation has never been a necessity for me. However, even when I do wear that little bit of makeup I do feel more confident and put together. It is interesting to compare how different cultures identify someone as attractive. It is also too look at how makeup and “the perfect face” has evolved over time.

  8. Shirneil Merisier

    I love how attractiveness varies around the country , In different parts of the US they barely even wear make up such as Oregon but if you go to NY, or Cali your sure to find people with loads of make up on. The application of makeup “plays different roles” around the country.

  9. Dongyuan Li

    Hi, I am Dongyuan Li. Before I went to college. I never make up because I think these chemical staff will do harm on skin. My skin is good. However, I after I went to college, people around me told me I should make up, at least try skin protection product. So I begin to use lotion, eye cream, foundation make up, shaping eyebrow, and mascara sometimes. Gradually I found that I am more confidence than before and even a little bit addicted to that. I went to perm more hair and I looks better than before. I think make up is not a bad thing, these chemistry stuff may be harmful on skin, however, just clean your face every night. It should be fine.

  10. Bailee Cooper

    I love wearing makeup, not only because I feel like I look better to others, but because I personally feel better. I feel like I am put together and ready for the day. I wonder if this added confidence other women may also feel when wearing makeup can contribute to their overall attractiveness.

  11. Amber Kay Shojaie

    This is crazy! I mean of course I wear makeup, but it’s unbelievable to think that a girl is portrayed as more attractive due to cosmetics. I hate wearing makeup though because it’s such a pain. Even though it makes me “more attractive,” I probably still won’t wear it that much because it’s too time consuming sometimes. Similar to the waitress experiment, check out this experiment where this girl was looking for a pound to pay for parking and when she wasn’t wearing makeup and wearing unattractive clothes, no one stopped for her, but when she was wearing nice clothes and makeup, everyone stopped for her and gave her a pound.

    How Makeup and Clothes Change Everything

  12. Elyssa Paige Woods

    I find this topic to be very interesting. I love using makeup and trying new techniques. What i found very interesting is when the women were looking at other women the amount of makeup on the them did not affect what other women thought of them but it did for men. What I have always wondered is why it is socially acceptable for men to not wear makeup, while women are judged by others if they don’t look feminine enough, which is what makeup does for women. Although makeup does accent the femininity of a women, people still look beautiful without makeup, it is just ones own perception of what they deem as beauty.

  13. Bailee Nicole Koncar

    Hi Stephanie,
    I really enjoyed reading about your post because it is true that makeup has a great impact on women and their appearances. Makeup is capable of transforming a person into a completely different one as you mentioned. It is quite amazing the power that it has to make cheek bones more prominent or eyes wider. The studies that you found were very interesting and say a lot about society. It is sad that in order to be more recognized or liked a person must go through the trouble of putting on a lot of makeup. Women should be regarded as being beautiful naturally without the help of makeup. However, as mentioned in another comment everyone has his or her own definition of beauty so there cannot be one clear assumption made about makeup .

  14. Madeline Bynres Walsack

    This is a very interesting topic you chose to write about. I never knew that men and woman typically had different skin tones. And I think it is very interesting that a woman is seen as more attractive based on the contrast between her eyes & lips and her skin. But isn’t it hard to decide what is “attractive” when everyone has a different definition of beauty? And people can most definitely still be attractive without using makeup. It’s all just personal opinion and what you perceive to be good looking.

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