How Your Makeup Affects Your Wealth

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Many women think that all the media hype over women’s hair, fashion, makeup and accessories is silly, but a recent study demonstrates that people’s perceptions of a woman’s grooming, including makeup, can dramatically affect her lifetime earnings, according to an article in Fortune magazine.

Sociologists Jaclyn Wong of the University of Chicago and Andrew Penner of the University of California investigated how beautiful people’s earnings compared to the earnings of average-looking men and women. Wong & Penner based their research on a long-running national study in which interviewers asked more than 14,000 people about things like income, job, and education, and also rated the subjects’ overall appearance and specifics such as clothing, hairstyle and, for women, makeup.

Previous studies had shown that attractive individuals earn about 20% more than people of average attractiveness.

But because Wong and Penner’s study factored in “grooming”— or how well put-together an individual appeared— they found out something different from any other studies, something important to every working woman.

They found that an average looking woman whose hairstyle, clothing and makeup results in her being seen as well-groomed earns about $6,000 more a year than an average-looking, averagely-groomed woman. But that’s not all. She also earns $4,000 more a year than a better-looking but less put-together woman. For women, grooming is apparently more influential than looks, when it comes to earnings.

These results indicate that a woman “can access the rewards that you typically think of being for attractiveness, through grooming,” Andrew Penner said.

If you thought men were not vulnerable to having their appearance affect their wealth, you’d be wrong. Both genders get the same 20% added compensation for being considered attractive. But men do not get the same boost for good grooming as women get.

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