An interesting way to spend the time is to compare the way science is reported in the media to what the actual published research states. There is often quite a mismatch. So when I saw some online comment about an article in Time that said that men preferred woman with less makeup, I didn’t take anything at face value.
In fact, when I dug into it I have to admit that the Time article was pretty accurate. The people commenting on it however, don’t seem to have actually read it.
The real story is a bit more interesting. We are all aware that there is considerable scope for misunderstanding between the genders. As the paper in question puts it.
“There are a variety of miscalibrations where attractiveness is concerned—often, what one sex thinks the opposite sex finds attractive is incorrect.”
So they set out using computer generated graphics to see what amount of makeup people liked, and also what members of the opposite sex would like. It turned out that women believed men had more of a preference for a higher level of makeup than the men actually had.
So the correct one sentence summary is not “men prefer women with less makeup”, but “men don’t like as much makeup as women think they do”. In fact men and women rate the amount of makeup about the same. Interesting, women also overestimate other women’s preference for makeup a little as well. So there is an across the board miscalibration. The obvious conclusion is that there is a good chance you are overdoing it. You might also conclude that men aren’t quite as shallow and unsubtle as many women seem to think, but I’ll wait for more research on that one.