People prefer less makeup on women, study suggests

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By Sarah Bourassa

Before you spend 20 minutes in the morning glamming yourself up with makeup, consider this: A new study suggests that men and women prefer faces wearing less makeup.

In the study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, both males and females were shown images of women wearing varying amounts of makeup and asked which they found more attractive. Both sexes overwhelmingly preferred women with 30 to 40 percent less makeup than they originally were wearing.

“So a more natural look makes you appear more attractive to others,” says Alex Jones, Ph.D, a co-author of the study and researcher at the School of Psychology at Bangor University.

Yet the research also showed that not only do women think men prefer a lot of makeup, but men believe this as well.

“It seems we are all quite bad at understanding what others find attractive, and this can lead to self-esteem issues …” Jones told TODAY in an e-mail. He is particularly interested in how we make ourselves attractive to the opposite sex and if these behaviors work. For example, this is similar to the beliefs that men find skinny figures attractive while women like muscular bodies, which research has also proven inaccurate, he says.

For the study, 44 females were photographed without any makeup at all and then with makeup they applied themselves for a night of going out. The researchers created a series of in-between photos, and participants were able to browse through the images of models with different amounts of makeup.

“We know that makeup increases attractiveness, but before we didn’t know — at least scientifically — that there was an amount that looked the best, and that people out there in the world agree on how much that is,” he says.

In a similar 2011 study mentioned in the New York Times, viewers perceived women wearing more makeup — but not too much — to be more competent , likeable and trustworthy. The research also found that cosmetics enhance women’s attractiveness.