Make-up techniques and products have advanced through the years, yet noticeable similarities throughout the centuries can be noted. Like the definition of the eyes and the emphasis of the lips. Makeup is an expression and experimentation of yourself, although it can be seen as an advantageous method to enhance characteristics of attractiveness.

When looking at makeup in history, Cleopatra back in 50 BC used dark pigments from minerals and plants to apply heavy eye liner to reduce glare from the sun reflecting from the sand. Whilst becoming more vain with age adding rouge and lipstick, made from red clay and darkening her eyebrows and eyelashes with a combination of animal fat and powdered lead sulphide. Defining her facial features, similar to women of today’s society. So why throughout history are certain key characteristics emphasised?

Makeup can be seen to play a crucial role in attracting suitors. Attraction is examined in evolutionary psychology, which is based on Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest. So prevalence of qualities which are attractive will increase your chances of finding an attractive partner, thus being the most genetically advantageous of the population. Ultimately, the aim in life in these primitive terms is to reproduce and pass your genes on.


The use of makeup can be seen to enhance features which male suitors in general find attractive due to their primitive hard-wiring. Research has shown that women look for financial stability and achievement where as men look for physical attractiveness; emphasising the theory that makeup is used to secure a relationship. It is thought in this field that men are hard-wired to prefer women with a ‘baby face’ in which she has large eyes, a small mouth, a small nose and a round head. As it suggests youth and fertility.

Eyeliner and mascara emphasise and when done correctly widen the eyes. If men prefer smaller baby like lips why are lipsticks and glosses such a big beauty product? Surely men do like coloured lips then..? It’s rather raunchy but psychologists have suggested wearing lipstick symbolises your *cough* *cough* lady area, similar to female baboons with their coloured behinds we’re signalling fertility. I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I think when I apply my lipstick everyday! Surely this is all nonsense. Actually it’s not, recent observational field studies showed that women wearing red lipstick were approached at a bar by men considerably sooner than those who wore lipsticks in other colours and those who wore nothing.

Research has shown that men in general prefer blondes as lighter hair highlights imperfections in the skin, enabling them to deter from females with hormonal imbalances and/or uncleanliness. It can be argued that foundation and concealer is used to hide these face demons from the world, giving the appearance of smooth flawless skin. Once we have a blank slate many of us apply blusher or bronzer to our cheeks, for a healthy glow; what does this glow mean in psychological terms? It is thought that blushing increases during our most fertile point of the month, signalling to the males we are in a sense good to go! Other research in this area suggests that blushing allows the male to know that you are aroused/interested in them, letting them know they aren’t wasting their time on a woman who is not interested.

Ultimately, everyone is different, we all have different preferences for attractiveness in possible partners so evolutionary explanations are becoming outdated and ungeneralisable. Perhaps due to our ever extending population, giving us more choice in mates we are deterring from generic makeup and trying to stand out with new outlandish methods and the newest products, when unsuccessful we head back to the big pond of Tinder and find a new catch.  In western society, makeup is more of an expression of yourself rather than an primitive attraction method for a partner.

What do you think about psychology theories about makeup?- I’d love to hear from you.