Science, Make up & Sex?!

Love it or hate it, women have been using makeup, in different forms, for a very long time.

Fashionable sixth century women made their faces paler by bleeding themselves, either directly or with the help of leeches. During the Italian Renaissance, women coated their faces with toxic chemicals including arsenic, lead and mercury.

It was even popular to look sickly in the 19th century, when tuberculosis was considered a “romantic” disease. Women of that era emphasized the circles under their eyes and used rouge to look flushed with fever.

The first archeological records of clear makeup use came from Ancient Egyptian and Sumerian tombs dating as far back as around 3500 BC. They used soot and other natural ingredients to paint their faces, and even had specialized tools to apply their makeup. However, paints and other means of self-decoration date back tens of thousands of years. Archaeological sites in South Africa provide evidence that body paint may have been used over 50,000 years ago, suggesting people painted their bodies before they even wore clothes.

This all happened...I PROMISE...

Not why do we wear it-anyone who has ever felt gorgeous after a swipe of rosy blush can tell you that makeup can help us feel, and thereby look, pretty—so should the real question not be- WHY DOES IT WORK?

Makeup works because it’s a good lie. In much of the animal kingdom, females advertise their youth, health and sexual availability through physical signals. Whether it be red rumps, special scents or elaborate behaviors, girls of the animal world know that sex sells, and they make it well known to the men in the area that they are ready for and capable of producing some stellar offspring. Like a peacock strutting his feathers, women do this to convince the opposite sex that they’re a good choice for a mate. But in humans, these signals are far less pronounced. Women’s bodies don’t advertise fertility loudly like our closest relatives. Instead, it’s almost impossible to tell if a woman is ovulating – almost. There are subtle signs if you know what to look for, and even though they might not realize that they realize it, men (and women!) do take notice. Studies have shown that women’s faces are more attractive to both sexes during the fertile phase of their menstrual cycle. Makeup works because it exaggerates or even completely fabricates these signs of fertility and sexual availability, thus making a woman seem more appealing.

Within our bag of tricks, we typically find similar products-

foundation, eye shadow, liner and blush plus let's not forget that color lipstick of choice for the day.

We talk of cosmetics as products designed to enhance physical beauty, but what is "beautiful"?

Cross-cultural research has demonstrated world-wide variations in what is physically appealing. Such relativity roots beauty in SOCIALIZATION, not evolution.

Being SKINNY, for example, is not a universal feature of attractiveness, just think of the country and cultures we're currently surrounded with today.

Despite cultural variation, a few physical characteristics are generally considered universal 'markers' of beauty!

Human preferences may have evolved over thousands of years to favor certain physical characteristics and they are all linked to reproduction. Like allot in life

Youthfulness, for example, is a generally reliable cue for fertility, potentially explaining why its so attractive. Likewise, skin and facial similarity, both signs of good heath, these aspects have wide appeal. To a lesser extent, other features associated with sexual arousal (plump lips, for example) may be perceived as beautiful, why? because they have reliable fostered reproduction.

I kid you not. Well that part research taught me:-)

I mean seriously was Denzil Washinton not dubbed Most Sexiest Man alive in 1996 according to People Magazine, not to mention George Clooney 10 years later which actually owned that title twice over. Then there was Channing Tatum in 2012 and Chris Hemsworth in 2014...wait I'm totally digressing...

In theory, one could put color anywhere on the face. But all cultures have independently agreed on certain beauty principles: Makeup is used to even the complexion, darken the eyes, flush the cheeks and redden the lips, no matter if you’re a doll-like Japanese Geisha, an Ancient Egyptian or a modern South African woman strutting her stuff on a Saturday night out.

Makeup works because it exaggerates our natural signs of youth, fertility and sexual availability, thus making a woman seem more appealing.

I do feel some judgement coming my way...I am merely formulating my sentences based on the statistically proven facts research has provided me with. Makes you think though, doesn't it!

What do we know according to these studies?

1) Lipstick-Wear Red:

When women are ovulating, the relative concentration of the hormone estrogen rises in comparison to progesterone. This hormonal shift enhances vascular blood flow under the skin’s surface, which has a number of side effects. Women near ovulation (when they’re most fertile) report that they’re more easily turned on and have more interest in sex. They also tend to have redder lips! By putting on reddening lipstick, women are accentuating a natural signal of fertility.

Woman with red lips are in fact perceived as more attractive. A field study showed that red lipstick influenced how quickly men approached woman in a bar. In the study, woman wearing red lipstick were approached sooner than those who wore no lipstick, brown or even a pink tone.The same applies for blush as the blood flow creates that natural tinge of rouge on the cheeks during ovulation.So the application of artificial blush may mimic this vascularization, providing a subtle signal of sexual interest or arousal.

2) Foundation-

We are naturally drawn to even skin tones. As our skin ages, it tends to get discolorations, whether that be from the lifestyle, sun, scars or other kinds of damage, no matter, with the assistance of Foundation and the right application it creates a younger more vibrant look. Therefore may give a stronger impression of health and symmetry. In fact, in one study , foundation was concluded to be the product making the most difference in a female attractiveness.

3)Focus on the Eyes-

Eyeliner, eye shadow and mascara may exaggerate facial neoteny. In other words, adults are often viewed as beautiful when they have the features typical of the young, including large eyes small noses and voluptuous lips

I can already hear the ladies shouting, MY (boyfriend/husband/whoever) says that I look prettier without makeup! Well, it’s true that when you create a case study to ask men their opinion on their partners makeup application, as many as one in five says their significant other wears way too much makeup, while one in ten wishes that women didn’t wear makeup at all. While that’s certainly a nice sentiment, their actions speak louder than their words. Study after study has found that when shown pictures of women with and without their makeup, men consistently rate images with makeup as more attractive, confident, and healthier. Men also think women wearing makeup come off as more intelligent and having higher earning potentials and more prestigious jobs. I’m not saying wearing makeup is more likely to get you hit on at a bar… but...

Makeup tricks our brains just enough for it to be worth the time and effort if you want to look hotter for that moment. Of course, social media and the way women are portrayed certainly helps boost sales. But makeup has been used for centuries in disparate and diverse cultures in strikingly similar ways for a reason. In the end, we are drawn to makeup is that it taps into our primal urge to find a young, healthy mate who will produce lots of kids so that we can pass on our genes.

As a Professional Make-Up Artist nothing gives me more joy to see the satisfaction on my clients face, the lift in her posture and the extra bounce of confidence in her step once my task at hand is completed.

So long as we understand that as long as looks continue to impact how we read across to others, its safe to say there's no shame in using a little bit of rouge to one's advantage:-)

Ill end with the words I found in the article 'Psychology Today'

"Just remember that, as this study makes clear, there's equal WISDOM in knowing when to remove it-or at least lay it on lighter"

...But there is most definitely a underlying psychology behind the art of make up...


Roberts, S., Havlicek, J., Flegr, J., Hruskova, M., Little, A., Jones, B., Perrett, D., & Petrie, M. (2004). Female facial attractiveness increases during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,

Russell, R (2009) Sex, beauty and the relative luminance of facial features Perception

Russell, R (2010) why cosmetics work. In Adams, R., Ambady, N., Nakayama, K., & Shimojo, S. the science of Social Vision. New York: Oxford University Press

Mulhern, Fieldman, Hussey, Leveque & Pineau (2003)

Stephen & Mckeegan (2010)

Fink, Grammer & thornhill (2001)

People Celebrity

#makeup #phycology

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