Facial Disfigurements Negatively Impact Job Applicants—With Exclusive Advice About How to Work With These Types of Clients


Only on SkinInc.com: Exclusive commentary from makeup artist Noreen Young of Noreen Young Pro follows this news story offering insight into how skin care professionals can work with clients who have facial disfigurements in their spa.

People with birthmarks, scars and other facial disfigurements are more likely to receive poor ratings in job interviews, according to a new study by researchers at Rice University and the University of Houston.

"Discrimination Against Facially Stigmatized Applicants in Interviews: An Eye-Tracking and Face-to-Face Investigation" was published online last month in the Journal of Applied Psychology and is one of the first studies to examine how individuals with facial blemishes fare in job interviews. The findings show that interviewers recalled less information about these candidates, which negatively impacted evaluations of the applicants.

"When evaluating applicants in an interview setting, it's important to remember what they are saying," Rice professor of psychology Mikki Hebl said. "Our research shows if you recall less information about competent candidates because you are distracted by characteristics on their face, it decreases your overall evaluations of them."

Hebl co-authored the research paper with University of Houston professor and Rice alum Juan Madera.

The research included two studies, the first of which involved 171 undergraduate students watching a computer-mediated interview while their eye activity was tracked. After the interview, they were asked to recall information about the candidate.

"When looking at another person during a conversation, your attention is naturally directed in a triangular pattern around the eyes and mouth," Madera said. "We tracked the amount of attention outside of this region and found that the more the interviewers attended to stigmatized features on the face, the less they remembered about the candidate's interview content, and the less memory they had about the content led to decreases in ratings of the applicant."

The second study involved face-to-face interviews between candidates who had a facial birthmark and 38 full-time managers enrolled in a part-time MBA and/or a Master of Science in a hospitality management program, all of whom had experience in interviewing applicants for their current or past staff positions.

Despite the increase in age, experience and education, the interviewers had a tough time managing their reactions to the stigma, Madera said. In fact, the effects of the stigma were actually stronger with this group, which he attributed to the face-to-face interview setting.

"It just shows that despite maturity and experience levels, it is still a natural human reaction to react negatively to facial stigma," Madera said.

Both Hebl and Madera hope the research will raise awareness about this form of workplace discrimination.

"The bottom line is that how your face looks can significantly influence the success of an interview," Hebl said. "There have been many studies showing that specific groups of people are discriminated against in the workplace, but this study takes it a step further, showing why it happens. The allocation of attention away from memory for the interview content explains this.”

Following is insight from makeup artist and spa professional Noreen Young of Noreen Young Pro on how to work with these types of clients in your skin care facility.

As a beauty professional, I have seen and touched all kinds of people and faces. It is not all about camouflage and concealer. Whether it is vitiligo, acid burns, birth defects or scars from a car accident, they all damage a person's self-esteem. You all know what you need to do.

"Although looks matter, they should not be everything.When taking care of the beauty needs of clients with facial disfigurements, the first thing to keep in mind is to try to make them feel good about themselves. You cannot make the disfigurement go away. It is all about your approach. Try to put myself in their place.

Following is a list of things you should try to accomplish when working with clients who have facial disfigurements."

  • Use the right attitude and the right words.
  • Have the right mix of inventory for the appropriate camouflage makeup selection and correction.
  • Work to achieve The perfect balance of both camouflage and corrective makeup on the face.
  • A dash of a fun color can go a long way, such as a gorgeous new lipstick color.
  • Accessories are a great way to detract from a person’s facial appearance and call attention to them while not focusing on the face. Consider retailing pretty scarves, earrings and necklaces that strike up a conversation and are a good tool for calling attention elsewhere.
  • Help the client's heart by being mindful and work to convey an understanding, healing spirit.
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