Money is a mixed bag — by some estimates it’s the leading cause of happiness and divorce. Since the financial site The Mint estimates that women spend about $15,000 on makeup in their lifetime ($3,770 on mascara alone), you might kind of understand the divorce thing. Those makeup purchases sting even more when money is tight, but according to social scientists that might be exactly when she should spend that money. It’s called the “lipstick effect” and no, it has nothing to do with your dog.
Past studies hypothesized that women buy more makeup to attract mates who can support them financially, but a new study published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that they actually buy it to make their own money. Researchers surveyed 200 women on whether or not they saw their partner or themselves as a source of financial stability. Then researchers surveyed them on if they’d rather be perceived as likable or intelligent in the workplace. Finally, they rated the importance lipstick, clothing, mascara, nail polish, perfume, and face cream. After analyzing the data, researchers found that women used makeup to both attract mates and advance in their careers. But when they controlled for marital status makeup was solely used for moving on up at work. But you already know that, because she clearly has no qualms about going without it in front of you.
If that seems unfair, don’t worry — there are similar dynamics at play. According to economist Daniel Hamermesh’s book Beauty Pays, attractive men make about 13 percent more on average. And unlike her, you don’t get to cover up those bags under your eyes with anything (although cucumbers while sleeping apparently work wonders). In that case, you might want to stop complaining about spending and start asking her for beauty secrets.
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