While the positive effect of makeup on attractiveness is well established, there has been less exploration into other possible functions of makeup use. Here we investigated whether one function of makeup is to signal sociosexuality. Using a large, well-controlled set of photographs, we found that faces with makeup were perceived to have more unrestricted sociosexuality than the same faces without makeup. Similarly, women wearing more makeup were perceived to have more unrestricted sociosexuality. The target women who were photographed also completed questionnaires about their makeup habits and the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory. Targets’ self-reported sociosexuality was not associated with their makeup habits, with observer ratings of the amount of makeup they wore, or with observer ratings of their sociosexuality when attractiveness was controlled. Thus our study shows that people use makeup as a cue for perceiving sociosexuality but that it is an invalid cue.
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