The classic image of a narcissist is a woman decked out in expensive makeup. But, does makeup use indicate narcissism? Found out what the research says.
Narcissistic women are more likely to wear expensive makeup compared to non-narcissists. A study of people’s ability to detect narcissists visually has shown that how someone wears their makeup is a good indication of their level of narcissism. But, wearing expensive makeup does not necessarily make someone a narcissist.
What is a healthy use of makeup vs. a narcissistic use? Read on to find out.
What We Know About Narcissists and Makeup Use
One study of narcissism and visual appereance attempted to determine in what way narcissism affects the way people look. This study took photographs of college students with varying levels of narcissism and matched elements of their photos with their narcissism score. This study showed a strong correlation between high narcissism scores and women wearing makeup.
Other physical attributes that were common in narcissists include —
- Frat/Sorority Type (1.00)
- Eyeglasses, men (.92)
- Cheerful (.88)
- Makeup, women (.83)
- Plucked Eyebrows, women (.83)
- Attractiveness (.82)
Note that these specific fashion elements are likely to vary depending on your culture and place in society. For instance, wearing makeup is probably less likely to be indicative of narcissism in professional environments where wearing makeup is common or expected. Likewise, in situations where makeup is less common, say when moms get together for a “play date” with their kids, those who wear makeup are more likely to be narcissists.
Likewise, daughters or sisters who wear makeup excessively as children are more likely to be narcissists. See “Living with a Jealous Narcissistic Sister” for more information on narcissistic female children.
Can You Tell a Narcissist by Their Makeup Use
In the same study mentioned above, researchers asked volunteers to rate strangers on how narcissistic they look in pictures. These ratings were then compared with ratings from people who know the narcissists well, as well as the target’s score on the four facets of the narcissism personality inventory (NPI).
Untrained observers were able to detect narcissism in stranger’s photos about 25% of the time. This is not much worse than people who know the narcissists well, who were able to detect narcissism with a positive correlation of 35%.
In this study, makeup was the most commonly used visual cue that indicated narcissism. This indicates that something about how narcissists wear their makeup — consciously or subconsciously — tips us off to their mental state.
Does Wearing Makeup Make You A Narcissist?
Wearing makeup doesn’t necessarily make someone a narcissist. Everyone puts in some effort to make themselves look attractive using makeup or other means.
What makes someone a narcissist is, in part, their compulsive drive to seek public approval and control their image. Wearing makeup is a secondary effect of their primary symptom of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
Using makeup as part of one’s grooming routine is healthy so long as it is governed by a desire to realize a well-adjusted self-image. Using heavy makeup won’t “drive someone” to be more narcissistic.
Are Men Who Wear Makeup Narcissists?
Men wearing makeup is a potential indicator of narcissism in men in cultures where male makeup is rare. If male makeup use is associated with grandiose visions, selfish behavior, and a lack of empathy, then narcissism is likely.