Do women who wear make-up appear more trustworthy?

Women who wear make-up are regarded as more competent and professional. It’s because we instinctively associate a blemish-free face with a trustworthy person.

Do women who wear make-up appear more trustworthy?

CLOTHES may make the man, but make-up can make or break a woman.

Psychologist Dr Arnaud Aubert says applying ‘war paint’ in the morning can make women more trustworthy.

No wonder that six out of ten women say they wouldn’t go to work without it, according to a survey by Superdrug.

“Make-up is a potent tool in influencing social judgements about the wearer,” says Dr Aubert, an experimental psychologist and associate professor at the department of neurosciences at the Université François-Rabelais in France.

“When you first meet someone, the brain focuses on the central part of the face, which is the main source of non-verbal communication.

“Within milliseconds, the brain processes facial cues, and forms social inferences, such as whether the person is trustworthy or untrustworthy.

“Flaws distract the brain’s attention; the more flaws [a person has], the less attention the observer pays to their facial expressions, decreasing the quality of non-verbal communication.

“So correcting these flaws with make-up doesn’t just improve your general appearance, it can actually enhance a person’s social assessment of you too,” says Dr Aubert.

The inverted triangle shape connecting the eyes and mouth has been dubbed ‘the social triangle’, and Dr Aubert’s theory certainly gives new urgency to powdering one’s nose.

But he’s not the first to find that beauty is in the eye of beholder.

Nor are today’s beauty junkies the first to try and trick the brain into thinking they’re better-looking — ancient Egyptians believed cosmetics to be so powerful that they used kohl eyeliner to ward off evil spirits.

One 2006 study, by Buckinghamshire New University, in Britain, showed that women who wear make-up are perceived as healthier, more confident and better-employed than those without.

Another 2011 study, by Harvard University, conducted in conjunction with Procter and Gamble, also learned that lip-stick can make you more likeable.

“We found that cosmetics have a significant impact on how attractive a face appears, but also on how likeable, trustworthy and competent they appear,” said Nancy Etcoff, lead author and assistant clinical professor of psychology at the university.

“When flashed quickly, every cosmetic look significantly increased how attractive, competent, likeable and trustworthy the faces appeared to the same faces without make-up.

“When people could look at the faces for as long as they wanted to, all make-up looks increased competence and attractiveness once again.”

Even Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive 2013, actress Scarlett Johansson, doesn’t have the barefaced cheek to go au natural.

“Day to day, I’ll use concealer, blush, eyeliner and mascara, and I carry foundation with me,” she said.

Pop star Katy Perry goes one step further by sleeping in her slap: “I don’t really feel pretty ever without make-up, and so I would have to sleep with make-up on,” she said.

When it comes to putting your best face forward, however, more is not always more, according to Liz Dwyer, of the Beauty Bootcamp, in Dublin.

Scouse brow (painted eyebrows), and tide marks are just two of the beauty blunders that draw attention to your social triangle for all the wrong reasons, she says.

“There’s no doubt that make-up can help make a better first impression.”

“But a lot of girls don’t know what to do with it. Eight out of ten teenagers I come across now, I just want to scrub their faces. Most have gorgeous, youthful skin, yet they feel compelled to hide it beneath a vat of mismatched foundation.

“Foundation is meant to unify the skin, not camouflage all your features.”

Indeed, when Kim Kardashian shared the secret to her flawless complexion — contouring her face with layers of pale concealer — with fans on Twitter recently, her make-up looked like it had been applied with a trowel rather than a brush.

Dr Aubert agrees: “Make-up can be a very potent tool, but it has to be used properly.

“While make-up can help make a better first impression, ‘inappropriate’ make-up — make-up which does not match the social context — can have the opposite effect.

“The amount of make-up is not a problem, per se, but women who wear more make-up send more intense social cues, and risk inducing prejudice if their make-up does not fit the situation.”

Despite being Photoshopped to perfection in Versace’s spring 2014 ad campaign, Lady Gaga still says beauty is only skin deep: “Whether I’m wearing lots of make-up or no make-up, I’m the same person inside.”

For the 40% of women who prefer to go fresh-faced, less can still impress, says leadership and charisma coach, Jonathan Dowling:

“While genetic blemishes are beyond our control, many other things are not,” he says.

“A sincere smile — one of those great, broad smiles where even the eyes crinkle — is one of the most effective ways of creating a powerful first impression on strangers. Good eye contact is another way.

“Looking someone directly in the eye, when they speak to you, and vice versa, projects confidence, but don’t stare at them either.

“A good rule of thumb is to hold eye contact two-thirds of the time, and then follow the person’s gestures, or shift your gaze to their mouth the rest of the time.”

And if you buy just one colour, then make it red.

“Studies show that we perceive people who are wearing red, or even just standing beside a red wall, as more attractive and confident,” says Dowling, of Interpersonal impACT.

“For men, the answer could be to wear a red tie, and for women red-tinted cosmetics.”

“Red lips will always make a more lasting impression than nude,” says celebrity make-up artist, Ken Boylan.

“But it has to be the right shade or it will make your teeth look yellow.

“Always try on more than one,” he says, “and when you find the right one, remember to smile.”

How to make the most of your looks

* “mismatched foundation can be very distracting,” says liz dwyer of beauty bootcamp. “the perfect foundation should disappear into your jawline. if you can see where it starts and finishes, it’s the wrong shade.”

* “hd [high definition] brows are a great way to frame your face,” says top makeup artist ken boylan, “your eyebrows should be as close to your hair colour as possible.”

* “when applying mascara, place the brush at the roots and give it a good wiggle before gliding it through the lashes,” says liz. “this makes lashes appear thicker and more defined.”

* “lip liner is a must to keep statement lipstick in place,” says ken. “add a little lip gloss over your lippie to help make thin lips look fuller.”

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