Is Makeup Necessary to Succeed in Business?

Many people -- men and women alike -- rely on cosmetics to thrive in the dating world. But new data suggests that makeup might also be necessary to succeed in the business world.

Through the years, numerous studies have found that people who are deemed attractive are more likely to get job offers, promotions, and raises than their less physically appealing counterparts. In fact, attractive people earn 3% to 4% more, on average, than those who are less attractive.

Of course, the term "attractive" is extremely subjective, but the one thing that can help turn an otherwise ordinary-looking individual into a striking one is makeup. It's no wonder, then, that the average woman will spend a whopping $300,000 on makeup in her lifetime.

Let's let that sink in for a minute. Though most women lag behind men when it comes to retirement savings, they're willing to shell out roughly $4,000 a year over a 75-year-period on cosmetics alone. (That time frame assumes that women start wearing makeup as early as age 13 and live until their late 80s.)

But while it's one thing to spend money on makeup for social reasons, there may be some underlying career-related justification as well. In a 2011 study paid for by Procter & Gamble, a mixed group of male and females observers were asked to analyze a series of pictures of women both with and without makeup. The results? The women in the photos with makeup were deemed more competent than those who went without.

Then, in 2016, another study was published examining the impact of makeup on female professionals. The setup was similar -- a mixed group was assembled to observe photographs of women with and without makeup. This time around, those who wore makeup were perceived by men (though not women) as more prestigious, while female observers found the makeup wearers to exude more dominance (men didn't). And while the latter characteristic could produce mixed results in an office environment, there is something to be said for being deemed capable of taking charge and running the show.

It's not just a matter of outside perception

It's easy to see why wearing makeup could improve one's chances of success in the workplace. And let's be clear here -- though society tends to associate makeup with female consumers, men buy and wear their fair share of makeup, too.

But wearing makeup doesn't just impact the way others might view one person over another. Rather, makeup often gives those who wear it a much-needed boost of confidence that can lead to better performance on the job. Just as preparing for a big presentation can increase its chances of success, so, too, can slapping on some makeup produce that same aura of confidence needed to pull it off.

Now makeup isn't the only tool working adults can rely on for a confidence lift. Clothing can play an equally important role in helping professionals look the part. Either way, striving for attractiveness can certainly help build one's career, whether we want to admit that or not.

Of course, this isn't to say that makeup is absolutely necessary to succeed on the job. But if we take a long, honest look at the data, we can also conclude that it most definitely doesn't hurt. In other words, it might pay to invest in a well-stocked cosmetics bag and add some extra prep time to our morning routines. Because whether it helps others see us in a certain way or alters our self-perception, clearly makeup seems to be doing its job.

The $16,122 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook If you're like most Americans, you're a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets" could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $16,122 more... each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we're all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.