“Are you going already?”, asks my colleague?  She’s referring to getting a make-up consultation by her friend and chief make-up artist at Barney’s, “The Beauty Guru.” While I can’t wait to go, it seems like such an indulgence right now as I juggle a ton of work and home responsibilities.

Well, now I have absolutely NO reason to push it off thanks to a new study by Procter & Gamble.

This study has made the rounds in all the major sources, including the prestigious New York Times, (“Up the Career Ladder, Lipstick in Hand“), and I’m even getting requests by readers for my thoughts. What am I referring to exactly? P&G investigated the instinctual effect of make-up. The consumer packaged goods giant (who happens to sell Cover Girl cosmetics to name a few beauty brands) wanted to understand what really happens to us within seconds when we see someone (namely ladies) without any make-up, some make-up and a lot of make-up.  The NY Times piece includes reactions from a lot of the biggies, including Nancy Etcoff who was involved in the study, as well as cosmetics giant, Bobbi Brown, Deborah Rhode who wrote the Beauty Bias (a book against looks discrimination) and Daniel Hamermesh who recently wrote Beauty Pays, a book about the economic advantages better looking people have.

The study included women of all ethnicities and the participants were only allowed to look at pictures of women in various levels of make-up for a few seconds.

Here are the results: if you wear make-up, but not TOO much of it, you’re considered more competent, likable, and trustworthy.  But even if you pile it on, you’re still considered more competent than the bare faced babes, but probably not as trustworthy.

I wasn’t at all surprised by the results.  Maybe you can chock it up to the placebo effect as Bobbi Brown points out, i.e., if you feel you look beautiful you’re more confident, or you can explain it away, as Hamermesh does, by saying that caring for one’s looks, signals a willingness to care for others.

I think its something more fundamental than that. We are hardwired to be attracted to beauty.   Of course beauty is signal of fertility which probably has driven our preferences for mates for centuries.

But I think its broader than that.  Beauty represents life at its best.  Beautiful gardens, meals, homes, clothing, and faces, are experiences that move us, inspire us and motivate us to make other things in our lives better.  They reflect how wonderful life can be if we put effort into our daily existence and show how creative human beings can be when our creativity is put to its best use.   We seek beauty.

No matter the reason for its ability to attract others, a little make-up goes a long way.

No more procrastinating.  Time to make my make-up appointment.  I’ll let you know how it goes. Pics and all!

Comment or tweet me your thoughts @beautyskew

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