Women who wear less makeup viewed as stronger leaders, study finds

DUNDEE, Scotland — Ladies looking to move up into a top-level position within their companies may want to give their cosmetic routine a makeover. A new study finds that women who wear too much makeup are viewed as less qualified to hold a position of leadership.

Researchers from Abertay University recruited 168 adults (48 men, 120 women) and had them view computer-altered images of two women. The women were shown with various degrees of makeup applied, from completely natural to done up for a “social night out” on the town.

Image from makeup study
The results showed a woman was viewed as being a better leader when wearing less makeup.
Image from makeup study
In the study, participants were shown images of the same woman with and without cosmetics.

Two images appeared side by side in the experiment and participants were asked to rate which woman per set appeared to be the better leader. The researchers found that participants, both men and women, frequently chose the women with less makeup on as the stronger choice.

“This research follows previous work in this area, which suggests that wearing makeup enhances how dominant a woman looks,” says Dr. Christopher Watkins, the lead author, in a university release.

Research published last year on a similar inquiry showed that women perceived other women who wore makeup to be more dominant, while men saw the same women as having more prestige. Results in a follow-up to that study found that women were more likely to be jealous of other women who work makeup and viewed them as more attractive to men — and also more promiscuous.

“While the previous findings suggest that we are inclined to show some deference to a woman with a good looking face, our new research suggests that makeup does not enhance a woman’s dominance by benefitting how we evaluate her in a leadership role,” says Watkins.

So if first impressions are everything, it may be best, sometimes, to do nothing to enhance your natural beauty.

The full study was published this week in the journal Perception.

You might also be interested in:


  1. This is not to imply that women who wear no makeup whatsoever make the best leaders, as many people do everything they can to avoid those types.

  2. Has more to do with self confidence, a women with no makeup is viewed as more confident in themselves, vs someone who is showing massive amounts of insecurity by slapping on the pancake mix like a Klingon on a Star Trek set.

    1. My mother was traditional and wore makeup, colored her hair every shade under the sun, and wore feminine clothing. She passed on those traditions to me and I am confident and I wear gobs of make up. Women have been wearing making since we lived in caves and it has nothing to do with being insecure. It’s how we choose to express ourselves, creatively, I might add. You might not like gobs of make up but, I’m gonna share a secret with you, Steven. Women wear make up because of how it makes us feel and not because we want to impress you.

  3. The main thing this study proves is that the US is not the only country that wastes tax money on silly studies.

      1. Which, in turn, raises the question of cultural differences/biases between people of different countries and cultures, that in turn brings into question the generality of the conclusions beyond the research group.

      2. Not sure what your point is. The story is about a study done in Scotland. My comment referred to another country. Scotland is another country (vs the US).

  4. Just another meaningless study.
    Where perception is reality even when it’s not.

    Never mind that out of whack gender numbers of participants.
    This isn’t science.

  5. The evil worked its way to the surface in Hillary Milhous Felon – all the makeup and trowels in the world couldn’t cover that up.
    Her idea of “Leader” was a reset button and enabling her rapist “husband” when not violating national-security laws.

  6. But the makeup “looks” more subtle. I don’t think they meant (even if they don’t understand) makeup based a lightly define eyes.

  7. On the streets of Ann Arbor no make-up Oprah would be organizing those panhandlers and turning a huge profit and the City Council would be loving her.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *