The beauty and personal care market value in Western Europe was estimated at €87 billion in 2019 (Statista, 2019). Research showed that women believe that wearing cosmetics can improve people’s perceptions of them in the workplace, and thereby increases their chances of financial stability during times of economic recession (Netchaeva & Rees, 2016). This research investigated the effect of cosmetic combinations – lipstick colour and eyebrow enhancement – on the perception of leadership traits in Caucasian women. 150 participants each judged four photos of blonde, blue-eyed women on effective leadership and four closely associated traits: intelligence, dominance, honesty & integrity, and self-confidence. Overall, the findings in this research confirmed that cosmetics can alter leadership trait perceptions. Results showed that red lipstick, compared to no lipstick, can increase dominance and self-confidence perceptions, while it can decrease ratings of honesty & integrity. However, the results varied greatly between the four photos, despite their very similar appearances. Brow enhancement was suggested to positively influence dominance and negatively influence honesty & integrity, but only for one photo. No interaction effect between eyebrow enhancement and lipstick colour was found for any of the photos. The differences in results imply that the effect of cosmetic combinations is complex and variant per individual. Although this research suggests that some women can indeed employ cosmetics to alter leadership trait perceptions of them, no evidence was found conclusively in favour of or against the use of brow enhancement and lipstick colour in a professional environment.

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Keywords cosmetic combinations, leadership traits, lipstick, eyebrows
Thesis Advisor Yu, X.
Persistent URL
Kok, J.M. (2020, October). Manipulating Perceptions of Leadership Traits in Women through Cosmetic Combinations. Retrieved from