Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Strategic Approach to Makeup

A recent 2-part study paid for by Proctor & Gamble and conducted by Harvard Medical School, Boston University, Dona-Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital examined how makeup can affect professional perception. The study was based on 25 women of various ethnic backgrounds between the ages of 20 and 50. According to the study report, each woman was made up and photographed with four* different looks — no makeup, natural, professional, and glamorous. The photos were shown to male evaluators and female evaluators to be rated on factors such as competence, likability, and trustworthiness based on looking at the photos for .25 seconds (study 1) or an unlimited amount of time (study 2).

*Note: The April 2012 issue of Marie Claire @ Work reported on a fifth look for what seems to be the same study. This look was defined as sexy and characterized by smoky eyes and a glossy nude lip. I am including some of those points below, but I should note that I’ve seen reports on the study from several sources including the report itself, but MC@W is the only one to report a fifth look.
Actual photo from the MC@Work April issue

Here are some results you might find interesting:
(1)   Natural and professional looks were judged more likeable and trustworthy

(2)   Sexy and glamorous looks were rated “significantly less trustworthy”

(3)   During the .25 second rounds, the no makeup look scored less than all the other looks in the areas of competence, likeability, and attractiveness

(4)   Professional and natural looks were rated most likely to get hired

(5)   The sexy look was least likely to get hired

(6)   Models in their 30s ranked better than all other age groups in all categories

(7)   Sexy was rated as least dependable and least stable

(8)   Overall, women raters ranked the model more critically than men raters

Discussion Questions:
(1)   What is your usual professional look?

(2)   How much thought do you put into your on the job makeup?

(3)   How does the makeup choice of clients and colleagues affect YOUR perception of them?

(4)   Will you adjust or change your makeup habits based on the results of this study?

(5)   What are your overall views on makeup?

My thoughts:
I think we all knew or would be able to guess at least some of these results intuitively and I know there have been tests in the past with similar results, but still I found these results interesting. Personally, I don’t wear makeup nor am I versed in the application process, but prior to this study, I was considering giving makeup a try as a way to enhance my professional presence. I must admit, I am now even more convinced that I should go ahead and try it.

What are YOUR thoughts?

Sources and Additional Info:
Research Report - Read or download the entire report
Up the Career Ladder, Lipstick in Hand - NY Times article on the study
Marie Claire @ Work - Link goes to an article about the new @Work supplement

#ShesaBoss and #theGB blog

1 comment:

  1. Most often, less is best. Especially in a professional environment. This study should have included perfume too:)