More Lipstick, More Money? A Social Experiment on Makeup

Email a Friend
From and

The following essay is by Takeaway Intern Cheyenne Haslett. Click on the player above to hear the full report.

From a young age, we’re taught that makeup and beauty products are shiny, glamorous, powerful toys that you get to play with once you graduate into the adult world. Foundation, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick—often staples for the put-together, working woman.

When you get to wear them yourself, well, you feel like you belong in the adult world, too.

Makeup inspires a confidence. As one makeup artist explained to me, how a woman feels in makeup is like the difference between how she walks in flats and how she walks in heels.

It works like this: When you look good, you feel good. And makeup is the grease that oils that machine up.

Or so the story goes.

I am not someone who strongly subscribes to makeup. So, when we began discussing this segment at The Takeaway, and as I read the statistics about the benefits I might be missing out on because I don’t don a cosmetic base, I was intrigued.

Studies by financial website Mint show that makeup can cost women $15,000 in the course of a lifetime. AOL and TODAY both report that the time spent daily on make up application can add up to two weeks out of each year.

See Also: Is the makeup tax really worth it?

I grazed over this, admittedly satisfied that I was escaping this tax. But then I started reading statistics—the data driven proof— that makeup effects the way you're perceived.

People think you're more attractive, not surprisingly, but also more competent, more likable, and even more trustworthy, according to one study.

The data builds a strong case for taking an extra 20 minutes each morning, especially before work. One study shows that makeup can be the difference between getting the more prestigious job offer, a mediocre one, or none at all.

Female waitresses have been known to get more tips from patrons if they're donning the basic makeup essentials, shows another study.

I, like a lot of summer interns, spent a chunk of my summer waitressing at a local restaurant. I realized I was in a position to test this data out. What if I went into the restaurant for a regular Saturday night’s shift wearing a noticeable, but appropriate, level of makeup? Would it increase my tip average, my confidence, or both?

After an hour-long sit down with two makeup artists at Blue Mercury, a local makeup boutique in my Connecticut town, I set in to experience the impact makeup might have on a regular day of work.

The experience was an overwhelming one—over the course of one Saturday night’s shift, I flip-flopped from feeling embarrassingly overdone to confident and put-together.

The new do did not go unnoticed.  Almost everyone that I worked with knew that something was different with this dark-browed, evenly contoured, long-lashed version of me.

By the time we opened for dinner, I felt excited in the same way you feel when you step out of the house in a new outfit, or drive out of the lot in a new car.

My confidence was further confirmed as I walked away from my first table with a 32 percent tip. The cosmetic boost was a push to be more outgoing, more exuberant, and chatty.

Makeup wasn't going to change my entire trajectory as a waitress, and I didn't expect it to, but my tip average did increase a slight amount. I averaged 22 percent, compared to my tip average from the previous Saturday of 20 percent.

It was a modest rise—not a scientific conclusion—but I learned something. It wasn’t the money or the attention, instead what I can clearly remember is the feeling.

Even if I didn’t think I needed it, I had bought confidence. Even if at the end of the night I was thrilled to go home and wipe it off, I would do it all over again.

How much power makeup has is up to each person to decide. It’s a power that cost me an hour of my time and about $50. But if the goal is confidence, makeup can deliver, and it will keep delivering so long as confidence carries a higher price tag than the cost of makeup.