Women Who Wear Makeup Earn More Money… True or False?

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“Women who wear makeup earn up to 30 percent more than those who ‘can’t be bothered.’”

This is according to a study in the American Economic Review.

True or false?

Before you answer, consider these assertions:

Personally, I can remember a time when I didn’t wear makeup to work and my salary was definitely a lot less than it is today. Of course I can’t be certain that the only variable was makeup; I was also junior-level at the time and had fewer years of experience under my belt. But I do believe that there is something to dressing the part.

To test the makeup myth, I sampled* women in my own personal network to see if this statement held true and learned that 94% of those who responded do in fact wear some form of makeup to work. Forty-seven represented these two earnings groups: $50,001-75,000 and more than $100,001. On average, our survey of professional females showed that those who choose to go bare when heading to the office bring in between $42,000 and $60,000 per year, which is at least 20% less than their non-makeup wearing counterparts.

So are the studies true? You be the judge. I do believe, however, that one should always work and dress for the job you want, not the job you have today. And if makeup is a part of that equation, then I guess you’ve answered your own question.

BTW, if you are a makeup wearer, here are four makeup mistakes to avoid at all costs.

*Survey did not take into account education, industry, tenure, or region.

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8 thoughts on “Women Who Wear Makeup Earn More Money… True or False?

  1. I think it does affect your business image and in turn makes you earn more money. Whether I agree with it or not, I know we live in a looks obsessed world. Humans are visual creatures and we make all sorts of inferences from what we see. Someone who looks put together will always have more cache than someone who doesn’t, fair or not.

    1. Appreciate your thoughts on this subject, P.S. Visual presentation does affect our business image, and we have to be careful how we brand ourselves on a minute-by-minute basis. As my mother always says, “You never know who’s watching!” (In this case, it could be your next client)

      1. Yes, you never know who’s watching! Very interesting post Courtney!

        I love fashion and style and dressing up so I naturally dress to impress. Kristen and I actually have an Art of Taking on the World video on this topic because we were at an event in New York and got picked out of the crowd for what we were wearing and one of the organizers said, “Oh my goodness you ladies look so put together!” It definitely makes a difference whether you like it or not.

  2. I would so like to believe that it wasn’t true but I am sure it is. We know attractive people of both genders get promoted so it stands to reason a woman who doesn’t play the game will find it harder.

  3. While I appreciate hearing the truth, I find it tragic. It is one thing to be presentable and to enhance natural beauty, it is another to be made up. The former is expected of both genders, the latter is not. Make up and other bodily decorations such as hair coloring and high heels are harmful to our health. Furthermore, they create false standards, false expectations, fierce competition, and a false image of who we actually are. Elderly women are made to feel uglier by the fact that they can no longer wear makeup gracefully, and poor women feel compelled to spend money they should not have to spend. I wish that women would join forces in a boycott of artificial ornamentation. We’ve come so far in so many other ways, but this challenge remains.

  4. It seems unfair and perhaps this shouldn’t be the case, but I’m unsurprised by the results.  

    How we look obviously plays a massive part in how others perceive us and as Jane says, it seems the more attractive you are, the easier it is to get on at work.  As make-up tends to enhance our looks then of course it will ‘enable’ our progression.  And progressions = salary increases.Personally I like to see women at work wearing a little bit of make-up because (rightly or wrongly) I think it looks like they’ve made a little bit more effort with their professional appearance.

    Thanks for the interesting article Courtney!

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