October 18, 2011

Ladies, want to seem brilliant? The New York Times reports: “Wear makeup!” This advice sounds so sexist (and maybe counterintuitive — don’t we associate cheerleaders or beauty queens with lipstick and blush?), but according to a recent Harvard University study, cosmetics can boost perceptions of women’s competence and trustworthiness.

The study examined women in varying degrees of face paint, from minimal to “glamorous.” In every case, testers thought the subjects were more competent when they ramped up the Revlon and Lancome.

At first, I felt ashamed — had I passed Italian class thanks to Covergirl? But looking in the mirror this morning, it dawned on me: “I’m up early for this mascara wand.”

If you’re in makeup today, it probably means you didn’t forget to set an alarm because you drank a bottle of Chianti and passed out watching “Glee.” You checked the mirror and made an effort to look good. And if you care about your appearance, you probably care about meeting deadlines and checking spreadsheets.

Yes, it’s a sad, unfair world, but (this) knowledge is power, and, according to Harvard, so is lipstick.

Katherine Boyle reports on arts, museums and culture for the Style section.
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