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Beyond Halloween, how does makeup change how people see you and you see yourself?

Published: Oct. 31, 2021 at 4:28 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Researchers have found that people can use Halloween, specifically their costume makeup, to create a whole new persona.

Scientists and a makeup artist discussed with Action 2 News how the creative craft can make you, and others, see you differently both physically and psychologically.

“Heavier makeup leads to looking more facially attractive and more competent which are obviously very important traits to be perceived as,” Erick Aguinaldo, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology and women’s and gender studies at the University of Michigan said. Aguinaldo co-authored a research paper titled “Who’s Behind the Makeup? The Effects of Varying Levels of Cosmetics Application on Perceptions of Facial Attractiveness, Competence, and Sociosexuality” to investigate what inherent personality traits people assume about a person based off of makeup.

If we look at that in the case of job interviews or just interactions with others, if people perceive you as attractive they are more likely to treat you better,” Aguinaldo continued. “Also, there is a phenomenon called the halo effect which is essentially, if someone sees you as more attractive they also see you as more good and more trustworthy.”

Besides the halo effect, research also shows that specifically women buy more makeup during economic times of uncertainty like the Great Depression or a recession. A phenomenon known as “the lipstick effect.” This concept is explored in the research paper “Boosting Beauty in an Economic Decline: Mating, Spending, and the Lipstick Effect,” published in the May 2012 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology issue from the American Psychological Association.

To read “Boosting Beauty in an Economic Decline” CLICK HERE.

“We’ve basically evolved such that when things are bad, we want to find a mate right away,” professor of psychology at California State University - Fullerton, Jessie Peissig, shared. Peissig co-authored “Who’s Behind the Makeup?” with Aguinaldo for the Frontiers in Psychology publication in June 2021. “We feel a lot more pressure. So, we want to enhance our appearance, look better, so we can attract a mate and have children as quickly as possible, before we starve or something bad happens.”

To read “Who’s Behind the Makeup?” CLICK HERE.

While makeup can have a significant impact on how others feel about you, it can also change how you feel about yourself. Something Green Bay bridal makeup and hair artist Claire Tassoul, owner of The Mane Claire, has seen when someone sits in her beauty salon chair.

“A lot of them are like, ‘make me a prettier person or a prettier individual,’” Tassoul recalled. “To me, I just think that they’re already pretty or empowering, we just need to bring out their natural features in order for them to feel like they are on another level. “

Scientists have also analyzed the differences in perception between a natural look, accentuating innate features, and a more glamorous appearance.

“When you present a face with makeup, they tend to be rated higher in certain traits like confidence, intelligence, and trustworthiness,” Carlota Batres, assistant professor of psychology at Franklin & Marshall College, emphasized. Batres has researched for years how makeup changes our perceptions of others. “However, when you describe someone as routinely wearing makeup without a face, they are rated as lower in confidence, intelligence and trustworthiness. Therefore, it appears that natural looking makeup is becoming more popular because it provides the positive visual effect of makeup without some of its nonvisual negative effects.”

To learn more about Batres’s scientific makeup investigations, CLICK HERE.

Whether you decide to try a bolder makeup look for Halloween or not, researchers encourage self-acceptance and perspective year-round.

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