Why Do People Wear Makeup?

In this post, we’ll discuss makeup, the science behind it, why do we wear it. Why do we feel the need to paint our faces with crazy colors and then go out in public? Many women wear makeup every day, and some of them may think that they’d love if every woman just didn’t wear makeup and we were all just judged on what our faces look like all the time. That would at least make it an even playing field. Women don’t actually have to put on makeup now, but they often feel they must just to keep up with everyone else.

Here we’ll go in depth into why we wear makeup and how it became the big industry that it is today: over 40 million dollars is used in purchasing makeup every year. It is a 40 billion dollar industry, so let’s take a look at how that happened, and why makeup is such an important part of many people’s daily routines.

For centuries, archaeologists have discovered evidence of body painting over 50,000 years ago in South Africa, so body modification is not a new thing: people have been wearing makeup for a very long time. Depending on what your definition of makeup is, if you want to be a little stricter and say that makeup is things that you apply to your face to make yourself look more beautiful and feminine, then it’s been around since about 3,500 years ago, when the Egyptians and Sumerians actually used Kohl eyeliner, crushed scarab beetles, fresh berries, and other things to change appearance. Here are the reasons behind it all.

We can actually see the reasoning behind makeup in the animal kingdom: how different the female looks and all these other crazy things that animals do to attract a mate. The reasoning behind these crazy rituals basically says that a female can portray to a male that they are fertile and ready to have healthy babies. During ovulation, studies have shown that both sexes think females are more attractive. Ovulation is the most likely time for a female to get pregnant. Estrogen levels rise, which increases blood circulation, and this causes flushed cheeks and red lips.

That’s the explanation behind blush and lipstick: when your cheeks and lips are flushed, it looks like you’re ready for mating. Those same flush features happen during sexual arousal as well, so it always looks like you’re ready for sex. So that’s why why lips and cheeks are important—the next question is why is it so important now to have fully filled in eyebrows and beautiful eyeliner.

We know all those other things that seem so important in the female face for some reason. Dr. Richard Russell, assistant professor of psychology at Gettysburg College, did a study that shows that contrast is most important in the female face. Here are two pictures: one probably appears female and one male, right? But there is actually no gender in either picture.

Dr. Russell put together a collage of a bunch of different human features from both male and female faces, and then increased the contrast on one of them, which was then perceived as female, because pale skin and contrasting features make the face appear more feminine. And the more feminine you appear, the more fertile you appear, so using makeup to increase the contrast of our faces originated as another way of signaling fertility.

Makeup originated as one big mating ritual, which may be weird to think about, but scientifically that’s what it is.

As much as makeup is supposed to attract the opposite sex, 1 out of 5 men think their significant other wears too much makeup or wishes they didn’t wear any at all. So, men say they don’t like makeup. Lots of women have heard from their partners that they would rather you just have your natural face.

The funny thing is that in most studies, when shown different pictures of the same woman wearing makeup and no makeup, most men will pick the woman with the makeup on. When shown a picture of a woman wearing a lot of makeup or a woman wearing “natural” makeup (which often takes just much, if not more, time and product to create), they often choose the girl with the natural makeup on because they think it is no makeup. This just shows that men don’t really know what makeup looks like, and can only really identify it when it is shiny red lips and a giant smokey eye.

While makeup may have originated as a mating ritual, these days it’s much more an aspect of self-expression. People wear makeup because they enjoy it, because it makes them feel more confident, or because they enjoy changing up their look from day to day and for different occasions. You may not care about attracting a mate: maybe you just love some blue eyeliner!

This article is not meaning to say that anyone should or shouldn’t wear makeup. Everyone should wear whatever makeup you want to wear, for whatever reasons they have. It’s all about you, your face, your confidence level. Let’s just be happy we’re not putting bat poop on our eyelashes, cyanide on our faces, or leeches on our skin anymore!

Interested more about fashion? check my post on why do people wear thongs.

 

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