• How Important is Makeup?

    Posted by in Ask Diana, Beauty, Dressing for Interviews & Promotions, Image Update, Professional Image With | 1 Comment

    I am often asked either during a personal consultation or during the Q & A period of a group program about makeup. Just how important is it that women wear makeup to work?  The answer is simple. Wearing makeup in a professional environment is important because if the application is right for the woman and the situation, it will positively affect the perception others will have about her. Wearing makeup is seen as the finishing touches in the grooming process, and ranges from light and natural to heavy and dramatic. A woman who reports to work without putting any effort into her appearance from the neck up will be seen as incomplete in her grooming therefore raising the question in the minds of others about her thoroughness in completing other aspects of her work.

    In the October 12th New York Times article titled, Up the Career Ladder, Lipstick in Hand, Catherine Saint Louis writes, “Wearing makeup – but not gobs of Gaga -conspicuous makeup – apparently can help. It increases people’s perceptions of a woman’s likeability, her competence and (provided she does not over do it) her trustworthiness, according to a new study*, which also confirmed what is obvious: that cosmetics boost a woman’s attractiveness.”

    This “attractiveness” in the workplace has stirred up quite a bit of controversy. Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University and author of The Beauty Bias was quoted in the Saint Louis article as saying, “The quality of my teaching shouldn’t depend on the color of my lipstick or whether I’ve got mascara on.” The quality of anyone’s work doesn’t depend on their appearance, however many professionals are looking for ways to best represent the quality of the work they do. Wearing an appropriate amount of makeup represents an attention to detail.

    Grooming and wearing makeup can be quite simple and take as little as five minutes to apply. For women who currently do not wear makeup, or for those women who prefer a natural look, here are the four easy steps to enhance your features:

    • Have your brows professionally shaped. The use of brow pencil or shadow will help to fill in faint gaps, give symmetry to your face and frame the eyes.
    • The use of eyeliner and mascara will define the shape of your eyes so they stand out.
    • Appling a little cheek color will give your complexion a healthy glow and give dimension to your cheekbones.
    • Wearing lip color will define the outline and keep your lips from disappearing into your face

    If your skin’s coloring is uneven or blotchy, I also recommend a light application of foundation and or powder. The photos show: 1) no make-up, 2) foundation and mascara only, 3) includes the addition of filled in eyebrows, 4) includes brown eyeliner

    The bottom line is a woman’s appearance simply must be appropriate for the time, the place, her role at work and her goals. It would be just as inappropriate for a female firefighter to rush to the scene of a life and death situation with long artificial fingernails, glamour makeup and perfectly coiffed hair as it would be for a female executive of a fortune 500 company to deliver annual earnings at a stock holders meeting looking as though she rolled out of bed, and put on a suit without brushing her hair or applying a little makeup.

    *The study cited in the Saint Louisarticle is titled, Cosmetics as a Feature of the Extended Human Phenotype: Modulation of the Perception of Biologically Important Facial Signals and was conducted by:Nancy L. Etcoff1,2*, Shannon Stock3, Lauren E. Haley1,2, Sarah A. Vickery4, David M. House5

    1 Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America, 2 Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America, 3 Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America, 4 Procter & Gamble Beauty & Grooming, Procter & Gamble Cosmetics, Hunt Valley, Maryland, United States of America, 5 Department of Computer Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America


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    Diana Jennings
    Diana Jennings is the founder of Brand You Image – a personal branding and image management company based in Southern California. A specialist in non-verbal communication, she brings a sophisticated understanding of people and a passion for growth to those working to reach their personal and professional goals. Typical engagements involve the development of high potential individuals and senior level management in personal brand discovery, image management, social and business behavior, and body language for better communication and interaction with others.

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Juanita Ecker » 03. Nov, 2011

I loved your comments about the importance of women wearing makeup in the workplace. I like how you made the point that the makeup helps women “better represent the quality of the work they do.” It’s so true. These women that wear makeup will be perceived differently than those that don’t.

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