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Biology Backs Up the Need to Look Good

Posted: April 12, 2010
Four crushed eye shadows in different colors

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Mascara is one popular way of making eyes seem voluminous. Relative darkness of the skin area around the eyes also matters. Male faces tend to have relatively uniform shading, while the eye regions of women, even without makeup, tend to be significantly darker than the rest of the face, according to studies by Richard Russell at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

"Increasing or decreasing this luminance difference will make a face more feminine or masculine, respectively, and hence, more or less attractive," explained Fink, who was not involved in Russell's studies.

By augmenting this contrast, mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow showcase femininity. So even if ancient Egyptian men did line their eyes with kohl (black-shaded cosmetic), eye makeup is not recommended for today's metrosexual man.

Lipstick, lip liner and balm

Russell found similar gender differences between the contrast of the lips and the rest of the face, with women naturally having darker mouths than men of the same skin tone. Lipstick enhances this difference.