The hidden meaning behind your mascara

Do you see yourself as a natural, classic or dramatic beauty? Glenda Cooper explains what the results of a special survey say about how women choose their make-up

"I'm sick of peering at the world through false eyelashes, so everything I see is mixed with a shadow of bought hairs ... maybe I'm sick of the masquerade," wrote Germaine Greer in The Female Eunuch. Making up is hard to do, but for most women the cosmetics that we put on our faces are more than just vanity; they are part of how we see ourselves.

Do you see yourself as Liz Hurley or Helena Bonham-Carter? Stella McCartney or Denise van Outen? Today's discerning consumers want products that reflect their lifestyle and their image and aspirations.

For the company which gets it right there are rewards. Make-up continues to be big business. According to the latest figures, from 1996 by Mintel, sales of face make-up are valued at around pounds 204m a year; lipstick and glosses pounds 138m; eye make-up pounds 162m. In addition, the number of women in their mid-forties and over using make-up has increased by 21 per cent.

And the eyelashes have it. The cosmetics giant Max Factor surveyed more than 10,000 women across three continents and established that mascara was the key item of make-up for nearly all women, with women feeling more confident and attractive if their lashes were darkened.

"I feel like a bald eagle without mascara," said one woman. "I wouldn't dream of going out, even to the shops, without mascara on," said another.

Modern women are not the first to be obsessed by make-up. The Egyptians were responsible for introducing make-up which they wore to provide protection against the sun's rays. Queen Elizabeth I was said to be left pock-marked and hideous because of the lead component in 16th-century make-up.

Behind the primping and painting, say psychologists, was basic biology. "Painting your body as adornment is fairly ubiquitous," says Dr Martin Skinner, social psychologist at Warwick University. "It is about accentuation of what there is already in the face and aiding the quality of the skin. Obviously sexual attraction is the primary urge.

"There is also the biological view that painting the lips red is a mimicry of the labial lips, and it's hard to get away from that."

Sheila Rossan, management consultant and chartered psychologist, feels that the use of make-up goes further than trying to attract the opposite sex. "It is part of our identity. The great advantage is that you can change your body image - it's not just make-up but clothes and hair as well - but all these things add up to how we present ourselves to others."

Research has shown that when meeting someone for the first time, the visual impact counted for 55 per cent of the impression a person gave, tone of voice counted for 38 per cent and what the person actually said counted for just 7 per cent.

"Today's consumer is astute," says Andrea Witty, spokeswoman for Max Factor, which carried out the survey as part of the launch for its CF2 mascara. "Glossy packaging and glamorous models are no longer enough for the discerning woman. She wants to know what the product offers, and if and how it's appropriate to her lifestyle.

"The trend is towards speed and convenience: mascara that's touch-proof, foundation, concealer and powder all in one."

While we may want the same qualities, we do not all want our make-up to give us the same effect. Does a lawyer want to look the same as a schoolgirl? Or a mother the same as a punk? In the Max Factor survey, women divided into three categories: Natural Look (28 per cent), Classic Look (34 per cent) and Dramatic Look (37 per cent).

"The natural look would generally be preferred by younger women who pursue the androgynous ideal," says Dr Glenn Wilson, a psychologist in self-image. "This would include schoolgirls who want to give definition to their eyelashes without being conspicuously made up, and the outdoor, sporty type of woman who would find excessive make-up inappropriate or inconvenient."

He adds that women who wear little make-up tend to be less ambitious because they do not wish to come across as threatening or powerful. It seems deeply un-PC to say so, but a recent survey in the US has found that women who wear make-up earn up to 25 per cent more than women who wear none at all.

"Yes, but who controls the pay rises?" snorts Sheila Rossan. "Business is still a man's world. There are still more men in positions of authority."

"Women who wear no make-up in professional jobs are often not taken as seriously as those who do," insists Dr Wilson. He says that such women prefer the "classic" look, which is subtle. "Career women in office jobs rarely choose exaggerated make-up, as this is seen as too overtly sexual and `false'.

"In addition, the sort of women who would choose the classic look may also be those who are in a permanent relationship."

The dramatic look, he says, would appeal to the more extrovert (perhaps even slightly exhibitionist) type of woman.

"Women who choose this look for work are out to look for success through their appearance," Dr Wilson says. "They may even feel insecure about their performance and so try to create a false impression of sex appeal and power to further their chances of success."

"Natural" women include Kate Moss and Stella McCartney; classic women, Helena Bonham-Carter and Kate Winslet; whereas the dramatics tend to be women like Liz Hurley and Sophia Loren.

But don't worry if you feel you are a Liz when you would like to be a Helena, or vice versa. According to Sheila Rossan, few of us stay with one look. "Make-up is not just about how we present ourselves to others, it is how we feel about ourselves.

"And I think we wear different make-up at different times," she says. "In the day, you might not wear very much make-up; in the night, you want to be more dramatic.

"Wearing make-up is like making a statement. You are telling other people how you want to be seen."

star looks

Natural

Felicity Kendal

Gwyneth Paltrow

Patsy Kensit

Stella McCartney

Kate Moss

Classic

Helena Bonham-Carter (above)

Helena Christensen

Princess Diana

Denise van Outen

Kate Winslet

Dramatic

Liz Hurley

Joan Collins

Geri Spice

Sophia Loren

Melinda Messenger

Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower