Well this is refreshing: It turns out, both men and women find women more attractive when they have less makeup on, according to a new study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
For the study, researchers recruited 44 women to model for photographs. They presented the models with a wide range of makeup and asked them to apply it as if they were going out for the night. The models were photographed pre- and post-makeup application.
Then these photos were altered to create 21 pictures of each woman with various amounts of makeup on and presented to 44 observers (22 male, 22 female). The observer could move through the images smoothly, seeing a gradual increase and decrease in makeup. Then they were asked to choose which version of each woman was the most attractive to them, which version they thought would be the most attractive to men, and which version they thought would be most attractive to women.
Interestingly, women preferred a bit more makeup than men did (but not much). But here’s the major news: The models put on over 30 percent more makeup than any observer found attractive, which was also more than what any observer thought others would find attractive.
Both men and women thought that other people would prefer more makeup than they themselves preferred—so apparently, we think we’re in the minority if we prefer a more natural look. And both sexes assumed that men would prefer more makeup than the women would; in reality, the opposite was true.
Well, there it is—when it comes to makeup, less really is more.