New research into how makeup is applied only to facial features increases perceived skin evenness

New research into how makeup is applied only to facial features increases perceived skin evenness

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Makeup is a form of body art that has been used for thousands of years to transform the appearance of the face. Although makeup styles have changed over time and between cultures, the actual modification of the face is usually quite similar, with an emphasis on making the skin appear more even and accentuating facial features. For example, think of Cleopatra’s eyes or Kylie Jenner’s lips.

Complexion-oriented makeup products such as foundation and concealer are used to make the skin appear more even. Using two physical measurements of skin flatness, researchers have found that skin with makeup actually has greater physical homogeneity than skin without makeup.

The same study also reported evidence that cosmetics affect perceived skin smoothness, with the same faces rated by participants as having more even skin when made up than without.

Interestingly, the effect size of the perceptual assessment was larger than the effect size of the physical measurements, suggesting that there are factors affecting perception of skin flatness that are not captured by the physical measurements of isolated skin patches.

Therefore, a new article published today aimed to investigate the possibility that makeup can partially smooth facial skin by increasing the contrast between the skin and adjacent facial features.

To test this hypothesis, researchers conducted two studies in which participants rated how even skin appeared on faces with and without makeup. The first study used digitally applied makeup and the second study used real cosmetic products applied by a professional makeup artist. Crucially, the faces in the make-up state had cosmetics applied to the lips, eyes, and eyebrows, but no products applied to the skin. The skin was therefore physically identical in both states, only the facial features differed.

dr Carlota Batres, who led the study, commented: “Whether makeup was applied digitally as in Study 1 or by a professional makeup artist as in Study 2, we found that the participants’ skin was in the condition on which the makeup was applied was applied, eyebrows, eyes and lips felt more even. These results show that cosmetics make skin appear more even, not only with products like foundation and concealer that are applied directly to the skin, but also with products like lipstick and mascara that are applied to facial features.”

Why does skin appear more even when makeup is only applied to facial features? The researchers believe that by increasing the contrast of the face with cosmetics, the appearance of spots and wrinkles can be suppressed. This new study shows that makeup affects skin’s appearance not only by applying products to the skin, but also by changing the skin’s visual context.

The study ‘Make-up Applied to Facial Features Increases Perceived Skin Evenness’ was published today in the journal Vision Research.

More information:
Carlota Batres et al, Makeup applied to facial features increases perceived skin evenness, Vision Research (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.visres.2022.108144

Provided by Franklin & Marshall College

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