Why people want to hide face imperfections?
Hello! Thanks for your question about why women want to hide facial imperfections. The most useful sources I found to answer your question are "Why do girls wear makeup" and "Scientific Study--Facial Health." The short version is that research suggests that humans, particularly heterosexual males, are attracted to women who are considered to have healthy, even skin tones. Science also suggests that healthy skin tone denotes sexual health, reproduction, and genetic strength. As well, cosmetics, including concealer, help highlight secondary sexual characteristics considered attractive-- including larger, brighter eyes and bigger lips in women. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
I limited my research to scientific studies or news articles and websites that cited scientifically sound information. I researched scientific reasons why women wear makeup, particularly as it related to hiding acne, scars and wrinkles.
In studying attractiveness, scientists have tried to separate what is considered beautiful based solely on cultural ideas, which change and vary from culture to culture, and even evolve within a culture, to what might be considered innate biologically in humans. In other words, what do humans, regardless of time or culture, find beautiful?
Makeup, it is suggested, is used by women to enhance physical characteristics and features that we innately (biologically) understand to indicate gene health and fitness. Women have more contrast in their face than men, meaning that their eyes and lips are naturally darker (more full of color), and their cheeks are more flushed. This difference (or dimorphism) is what is considered a secondary sex characteristic. Scientists believe we innately associate these secondary sex characteristics with more attractive women because: "Larger secondary sexual characteristics should be related to a healthier immune system because only healthy organisms can afford the high sex-hormone handicap on the immune system that is necessary to produce these characteristics." In other words, only a body that is healthy has a strong immune system, and therefore has a better chance of reproducing successfully and passing on this good immune system to their offspring has "extra energy" to use on secondary sex characteristics.
Much is made of symmetry of the face in attractiveness-- and scientific study proves that the more symmetrical the face, the more attractive it is considered. Less research has been devoted to what role the homogeneity of skin plays in attractiveness. However, in those research studies that do look at this phenomenon, clear, healthy skin is positively correlated with increased perceived attractiveness. In fact, "skin health may be a particularly useful marker of current health condition as it is more changeable than aspects such as symmetry."
Therefore, the role of makeup, and particularly concealer comes into play. By hiding blemishes, wrinkles, and other skin imperfections, a concealer gives the look of higher skin health, thus increasing the wearer's attractiveness. As well, concealer is also used to highlight the under eye area (or to make this area appear lighter) thus increasing the contrast in the eyes and making them appear darker-- and therefore for the wearer to appear more feminine. One study in 2003 by Mulhern et al. found that foundation (a close cousin to concealer; it acts in a similar way by making the skin appear more even and hiding blemishes) was the product that made the most difference in female attractiveness as rated by the men in the study.
As mentioned above, what a culture considers attractive changes from culture to culture, and even evolves within a particular culture. In modern 21st century western culture, there is a high emphasis on women conforming to set beauty standards. Wearing makeup is fairly ubiquitous; online makeup tutorials, ads, and Instagram pictures of women in makeup abound and are easily disseminated. Therefore, feminists and other social scientists might argue that women's interest and desire to wear makeup-- including concealer-- is not only to appear more attractive biologically but also to conform to cultural ideas.
To wrap it up, scientific research suggests that women wear concealer and other makeup to enhance and give the appearance of features that are considered biologically advantageous-- particularly a clear and even skin tone and contrast in the eyes and lips. As well, there is some belief among social scientists that women wear makeup to conform to cultural ideas.
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