Quantifying the Impact Cosmetic Make-up Has on Age Perception and the First Impression Projected

April 2015 | Volume 14 | Issue 4 | Original Article | 366 | Copyright © 2015

Steven H. Dayan MD FACS,a,b,c Katherine Cho MPH,a,c Mary Siracusa BS,a,c and Selika Gutierrez-Borst MS RNa,c

aChicago Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, Chicago, IL
bDivision of Facial Plastic Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
cDeNova Research, Chicago, IL


INTRODUCTION: First impressions are lasting, consequential and defined as the immediate judgment made of another from zero acquaintance. Multiple studies have reported the benefits of cosmetic make-up. We set out to investigate the psychosocial and aesthetic effects of cosmetic make-up in order to better understand why women wear it.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-seven women were recruited in order to examine the effects of cosmetic make-up on first impressions. The photographs of individual subjects wearing the control cosmetics, their own make-up, and no make-up were randomly assigned to three binders (A, B, and C). Three hundred evaluators participated (100 evaluators per book) and completed a 10-point First Impression Scale for each of the 27 photos in their binder.
RESULTS: Statistical analysis of the collected data was conducted in SPSS using two-tailed t-tests to determine the statistical significance of the differences between first impressions of Own Make-up vs No Make-up, No Make-up vs Control Make-up, and Own Makeup vs Control Make-up. There was a significant difference in improvement in all pairings across all 8 categories in the First Impressions questionnaire particularly in perceived age between own make-up, no make-up, control make-up (41, 42, 38; P<0.001).
DISCUSSION: Our study evaluated the first impressions, age perception, self-esteem, and the quality of life impact that cosmetic makeup has on women’s appearance and confidence. Subjects wearing cosmetic make-up appeared 4 years younger than those wearing no make-up. And the control cosmetic make-up subjects on average projected a 37% better first impression than subjects wearing no make-up. We objectively quantified and qualified the benefits of applying cosmetic make-up. Make-up can reduce the perceived age, improve the first impression projected and increase the self-esteem of those who apply it.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(4):366-374.

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To want to look and feel beautiful is a natural and necessary instinct essential to the very existence of our species. Across millenniums and cultures, regardless of social, political, or religious influences, humans have partaken in acts of beautifying and highlighting secondary sexual characteristic traits, with a goal to flaunt their health and/ or fertility. It is only in the last century that cosmetic medical procedures have been utilized as a tool to define, enhance, or highlight secondary sexual calling signals. Prior to the modern age, humans relied on beautifying tools that were more easily obtained from their natural or local surroundings. Make-up or facial painting has a long history as a means for both men and women to alter their image.

A patient with a bolstered self-esteem following an aesthetic physician’s intervention is perhaps the very definition of a successful outcome. Perceptions of self-worth are gleamed from many sources; familial upbringing as well as influence from the media and peers is all integral to setting the foundation. And the building blocks of self-esteem are further constructed with achievements in professional, athletic, personal, creative involvements, and more. However, despite those important mortars, it is estimated that up to 70% of human self-esteem is wrapped up in appearance.1 When an individual is confident in appearance, their behavior can be positively influenced. In fact, in an experimental study, women who think they are beautiful earn 70% more money for every point on an 11-point scale they rate themselves higher than women who objectively are rated a point higher by observers.2 In other words, if you think you are beautiful you are likely to make more money than if you actually are beautiful. Those with elevated self-esteem stand taller, appear more extroverted, friendlier, and approachable.3

First impressions are lasting, consequential, and defined as the immediate judgment made of another from zero acquaintance. Previously we have shown in three separate studies that observers rate subjects who have had facial plastic surgery, neurotoxin (Botox, Allergan, Irvine, CA), and filler (Restylane , Galderma, Fort Worth, TX) as projecting an improved first impression.4-6 We at first were not sure what was causing the elevated first impressions, was it a factor of the way others perceive a face that is more “beautiful” or was it that the treated individual had an elevated self-esteem that somehow translated through the photo to an observer resulting in a better

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