The combination of work and makeup keeps being a sensitive matter. Many women want to look natural, but also want to wear enough makeup to accentuate their best features. But what is actually the relationship between makeup and leadership skills? This was recently studied.
At the Scottish Abertay University, researchers studied how men and women judge leadership skills of women wearing makeup. This study revealed that both sexes score women with relatively heavy makeup lower. Women with half the amount of that makeup got mixed scores: sometimes they scored well on leadership qualities, sometimes not so well. Why women with a lot of makeup scored less well, was unfortunately not researched.
Another study in 2016 showed how men and women generally perceive women with makeup. It turned out that women wearing makeup are seen by other women as manipulative, coercive and dominant. For men, these women with makeup created the opposite effect. They called these women prestigious. Researcher Viktoria Mileva stated that she thinks jealousy plays an important role here.
At first glance, both Scottish studies seem to contradict each other. But when I look at the faces that were used in these studies, I understand the results better. In the more recent study, the makeup used on women was much darker than in the study of 2016. Well, dark and heavy makeup is usually less appreciated in the workplace. According to the results of another study.
A matter of time
I expect a gradual change in how women with makeup are perceived. With the arrival of YouTube and in particular the makeup videos that are being watched en masse, an irreversible change is happening. Famous YouTubers like the Dutch NikkieTutorials have over ten million followers worldwide. And these women pop up everywhere. Not only online, but also on television and in magazines.
In the past, good makeup was something for professionals, for people who studied for it. Nowadays every woman can find all sorts of information about makeup online and I notice more and more women use it. My jaw drops when I hear 12-year old girls in the drugstore talk about “pigment” when discussing makeup products. This generation of girls also wears more makeup because they simply know what is out there and how to use it. When I was twelve, I was happy I could apply my mascara without any smudges. While nowadays, girls can apply full-face makeup AND look great.
It is for this reason that I expect the amount of makeup to be less of a factor when it comes to judging women’s leadership skills. Because the more women wear it, the more ordinary it gets.