Makeup and Menstrual Cycle: Near Ovulation, Women Use More Cosmetics

By Gueguen, Nicolas | The Psychological Record, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Makeup and Menstrual Cycle: Near Ovulation, Women Use More Cosmetics


Gueguen, Nicolas, The Psychological Record


Several studies have shown that a woman's physical appearance changes across the menstrual cycle. Women's clothing choices are also affected by their menstrual cycle. Saad and Stenstrom (2009) found that women reported engaging in greater appearance-related product usage on fertile phase days than on luteal days. Durante, Li, and Haselton (2008) found that, near ovulation, women preferred clothing that was more revealing and sexy, whereas Haselton, Mortezaie, Pillsworth, Bleske, and Frederick (2007) found that, during their high-fertility period, women showed more skin. Recently, Durante, Griskevicius, Hill, Perilloux, and Li (2011) reported that, at peak fertility, women chose products that enhanced appearance (e.g., choosing sexy rather than more conservative clothing). Similarly, Grammer, Renninger, and Fischer (2004) showed that mated women attending discotheques without their partners tended to dress more provocatively when they had higher sex hormone levels, as is the case during the fertile phase. In the same way, Kim and Tokura (1998) found that preference for warm or cool colors was also affected by the menstrual cycle, and research has found that warm-or cool-colored clothes are associated with variations in women's attractiveness. For example, recent research has found that women with red clothes are more attractive to men. Gueguen (in press) found that women hitchhikers wearing red, compared to the same women wearing black, white, blue, green, and yellow, solicited a higher response in the number of male drivers who stopped to offer a ride, whereas no color effect was found when considering the behavior of female drivers. In the same way, Niesta Kayser, Elliot, and Feltman (2010) found that men who conversed with a potential female partner asked more intimate questions when the woman was wearing a red versus a green shirt (Experiment 1). These men also sat closer to women with red shirts than with blue ones (Experiment 2). Such studies suggest that clothing style provides a means for women to increase their attractiveness as perceived by men during their fertile phase.

Curiously, no study has examined the use of cosmetics by women in relation to their menstrual cycle. However, research has found that cosmetics use is associated with a high level of female attractiveness. There is evidence that makeup has been used by women throughout history in order to improve their facial attractiveness (Kay, 2005; Malkan, 2006; Marwick, 1988), and the cosmetics industry is one of the most flourishing industries in the world.

The literature examining the role of cosmetics in social perception has found that, overall, makeup is associated with positive evaluations of women. Graham and Jouhar (1981) reported positive effects of cosmetics on judgment. Male and female participants rated color photographs of four female targets of average physical attractiveness on several traits related to appearance and personality. With facial makeup, the targets were rated as being cleaner, tidier, more feminine, and more physically attractive, as well as more secure, sociable, interesting, poised, confident, organized, and popular. Richetin, Huguet, and Croizet (2007) found that women with facial makeup (as opposed to with no makeup at all), presented through color photography, were associated with positive traits and high-status professions. Cox and Glick (1986) examined how average-looking women were perceived after a professional makeover versus when they were cosmetics free and found that cosmetics were positively associated with femininity and sexiness. Workman and Johnson (1991) instructed female participants to view one of three colored photographs of a professional model wearing either heavy, moderate, or no cosmetics. They found that cosmetics significantly enhanced the impression of attractiveness and femininity. Cash, Dawson, Davis, Bowen, and Galumbeck (1989) conducted an experiment in which American college students were photographed while wearing their typical facial cosmetics and again following the removal of their makeup. …

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