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Why More Makeup Means Better Pay for Women

Why More Makeup Means Better Pay for Women

By Jillian Kramer

It's not fair, but we've long known that people who are perceived as more attractive make more money. New research shows, however, that when it comes to women, managers aren't making money decisions based on natural beauty. Rather, it's our grooming habits — things like the amount of makeup we apply or how stylish our hairdo is — that catch managers' eyes and make a difference in your earning potential.

Researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of California analyzed the data from a long-running national study of more than 14,000 people. It asked participants — who were rated on how attractive and well-groomed they appeared — to answer questions about their income, job, education, and personality.

The researchers found that attractive people do indeed tend to earn higher salaries. No surprise there. It's what makes people "attractive" that took the researchers by surprise. The researchers discovered that women's attractiveness advantage comes almost entirely from grooming rather than their "natural" beauty. Only about half of men are judged the same way.

In fact, the research shows that naturally attractive but better groomed women overwhelmingly out-earn naturally beautiful women who forgo the full-face makeup look. For example, an unattractive but well-groomed woman makes an average median yearly salary of $37,000 — compared to an average-looking woman with average grooming habits, who earns $24,000 each year, and an attractive woman with poor grooming habits, who makes just about $22,000 each year.

The research seems to show that, as a woman, an investment in makeup and hip haircuts is also an investment in your career and financial future — a reality that makes us more than a little sick. Your ability to apply the perfect cat eye in no way affects your ability to kick ass at work — and it certainly shouldn't affect your salary.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images