Why women use makeup: implication of psychological traits in makeup functions

J Cosmet Sci. 2008 Mar-Apr;59(2):127-37.


Makeup acts and stimulates three of our senses: touch (which encompasses all sensations from the body surface), smell (fragrance), and sight (the process of becoming and looking beautiful). The positive stimulation of these senses by makeup can induce sensory as well as psychological pleasure. In order to understand the relationship of women to their makeup, we interviewed different groups of women on their quality of life and makeup habits. Then, through four standard well-validated psychometric self-questionnaires, we examined the possible relation between the need to make up oneself and specific psychological features. Our first results clearly showed that makeup could support two opposite "up" functions, i.e., "camouflage" vs "seduction." Concerning their psychological profiles, results showed that women of the functional class "camouflage" are more anxious, defensive, and emotionally unstable compared to those of the functional class "seduction," who appear to be more sociable, assertive, and extroverted. Further analyses revealed a division of the two classes into subclasses of volunteers with opposed personality and psychological profiles. This new classification allowed us to define more precisely the relations existing within the subjective experience of women during the makeup process. In conclusion, our study revealed that beyond the simple application of colorful products on the face, makeup has two major functional implications depending on specific psychological profiles of women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cosmetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics
  • Self Psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Cosmetics