Professional women who have been in the workplace for quite some time know better than to bring out the false eyelashes, rainbow eyeshadow, and vampy lipstick for a day at work. While some have mastered the art of looking polished for the office, others opt to go with the minimal approach when it comes to their work look. But does a woman’s makeup—particularly how much makeup she uses—really matter in the office?
According to The Muse, a study conducted by researchers at Boston University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that women who apply a “professional” amount of makeup in the office were thought to be capable, reliable, and amiable, and more competent than women who prefer to go bare faced.
More than 20 women of different ethnicities ranging from 20 to 50 years old participated in the research, and each of them was photographed in four different looks. The first look was a bare-faced look, followed by three different types of makeup levels described as natural, professional and glamorous.
Over a hundred participants, 61 of them men, were asked to evaluate the photos and asked to judge the photos in terms of competence and likeability. The professional look was deemed the clear winner.
The study, which was published online by Plos.org, did not exactly state which methods and cosmetics were used to achieve the professional look. But based on the photos posted on the site, it appears that a professional makeup look calls for even, matte skin, defined brows, a natural lip color that’s neither too pale or too bold but known in the beauty world as a my-lips-but-better (MLBB) lip color, and a hint of blush on the cheeks.
So what does this mean for women in the workplace? Should you invest in makeup to be perceived as competent?
It’s a fact that people often get judged on their appearance, no matter if they wear makeup or not. But a person’s approval must not dictate one’s beauty routine, regardless if one opts to look natural or professional in the workplace.
Making an effort to look polished for the office must not clash with one’s comfort levels with regards to the amount of makeup that a woman wears. So go ahead and wear your lipstick and blush with confidence. Remember that if you look good, you feel good.
For more, check out Jobs & Hire's report on the best fashion and beauty hacks that all chic working women know.