Psychology Behind Makeup
Life Style

Psychology Behind Makeup


We all know somebody who is obsessed with makeup, or it can be you as well, they know all the new brands, the new products, their application, uses, et cetera. Those people have this kind of addiction of trying on new, make-up, new looks and experimenting with their creativity. Some may do this to cover up their insecurities, to look more beautiful and acceptable in this society, but for others, make-up can be a medium of expression, to truly express who they are as a person and a form of acceptance. In the Last Decade, the makeup industry has only flourished more, not just for women but for men also.

Read More: 10 Subtle Signs of Highly Creative People, According to Psychology 

Why do People use Makeup?

According to studies, 44% of women do not leave their homes without applying some makeup products. There are various reasons why people wear makeup. Many individuals, regardless of gender, apply makeup to conform to societal norms, enhance their appearance, and feel more accepted. Some may do this to increase their chances of landing a job or opportunity, as certain professional fields like Acting career or Air hostess may require makeup, and professional makeup classes are often part of their training. Others might temporarily change their appearance to meet their preferences or the expectations of those around them. Additionally, makeup can serve as a form of self-expression, allowing people to creatively showcase their identities. Many people from the LGBTQ+ community use makeup as a form of self-expression. For those with an artistic background, makeup can be a powerful tool to challenge stereotypes and embrace their identity.

People, especially women from a very young age are conditioned to believe that outer appearances also matter and are sometimes more important than what’s on the inside. They are taught to have their standards high while talking about and complexes in them, resulting in them using makeup to cover up, “what’s wrong” with them.

Using some mascara, blush or lipstick can be a confidence booster in some. Some people may want to look more dominant in the workplace and life and to do so, they may use makeup to look more alluring and out there. But the most common reason why people choose to wear makeup is creativity. Many individuals believe that makeup like any other art is a form of creative expression, which gives them a medium to express who they truly are as a person, their likes and dislikes, and even their personalities. The colourful shades of an eyeshadow palette are reminiscent of the paint sets people had as kids. Using these shades, individuals can be as free as a child with a paintbrush.

Make-up can also be a form of self-care, having to do certain steps as a part of daily routine, to feel more relaxed and calm. Some people associate doing make-up and playing with colourful shades in a beauty palette. with happiness, providing them with mental peace and a confidence boost.

Self-presentation Theory and the Role of Makeup

People usually tend to change their behaviour, to change perceptions of others about them. Any behaviour or action done to shape or influence how other people perceive you is referred to as self-presentation. Self-presentation is what we do whenever we try to influence a person’s view of us. Self-presentation is very common, people try to look good to feel more confident and strong and to appear presentable. And for that, they use makeup products as a medium to look more orderly. The application of makeup products to hide away imperfections that they have, which may interfere with how they want to present themselves in society, is one of the main reasons as well.

Neuroscience of Beauty 

Many neuro-scientific studies have revealed that we as human beings like symmetry, but unfortunately, most of us have asymmetrical faces, and that’s where make-up comes in. Make-up helps to even out skin tone and to make the face structure more symmetrical by contouring the edges of the face. Applying makeup can also stimulate the brain’s reward regions, resulting in emotions of fulfilment and pleasure that could encourage the behaviour. Using makeup products like blush adds a tint to the cheeks, giving a more youthful appearance. Eye products like mascara and eyeliner enhance an individual’s natural eye shape and structure. Lipsticks, especially the colour red for women, make them look more attractive.

Self-objectification theory and societal norms

According to self-objectification theory, psychologically people view themselves as an object, first and a human beings later, which results in them being super critical of their bodies and structure. This may cause them to develop dysmorphic symptoms, find flaws, and be hyper-fixated on them. And these hyper fixations may be caused by societal norms and expectations from a person, to look a certain way and to be a certain way, which can cause psychological distress in them.

Application of makeup may be used as a defence mechanism, here, leading people to hide their true personality and cover-up, using makeup as what they expected to be.

According to some, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, society often places more importance on having a pleasing outer appearance than on inner beauty. That outer appearance and pleasing looks can influence how people are viewed. That is why some people are so fixated on their flaws and how to cover them up using make-up products, skincare products, and even treatments.

It is important to understand that make-up is a form of art and a form of self-expression, but if one is using it as a defence mechanism to avoid producing thoughts about what other people will think about them, then unfortunately, make-up is not the solution. Instead, learning acceptance is more important here, to understand who you truly are. And if a person still finds difficulty in accepting their true reality, it is advised to seek professional help.

References +
  • Pbmif. (2024, April 27). MINDFUL MAKEUP. Fashion Psychology.
  • Pmp, K. C. M. B. (2023, May 8). Self-Objectification in women. Verywell Mind.
  • The self Presentation Theory and how to present your Best self. (n.d.).
  • Tustin, N. (2018, March 3). The Psychology of Wearing makeup – Nicki Tustin – medium. Medium.
  • Van Edwards, V. (2024, April 19). Why do women wear makeup? The science behind makeup obsession. Science of People.
  • wikiHow. (2024, May 7). Why do women wear makeup? psychological reasons & more. wikiHow.

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