Japanese scientists unravel cognitive secrets to putting on make-up

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Mind

Scientific research sponsored by Japanese cosmetics giant Kanebo reveal exactly what goes through a women’s mind when she applies make-up.

Using brain scanning equipment, the scientists were surprised to discover that women experience a wave of euphoria and optimism as they prepare for their make-up routine, confounding the commonly held belief that positive feelings would be experienced after the make-up is applied.

The research, which was carried out by a team of scientists headed by Dr. Ken Mogi at Kanebo’s research and development laboratories in Tokyo, aimed to determine the distinct cognitive activities involved in how a woman perceives herself with and without make-up, UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported.

The work is important to manufacturers and marketers of color cosmetic products, because it helps explain the exact reasons why women wear make-up and how it makes them feel better about themselves.

Determining how women perceive themselves

The project, which the company called ‘Cosmetics, Beauty and Brain Science', also helps to determine how women perceive themselves both with and without make-up, and the difference that specific types of color make-up have on their self-esteem.

"We know from previous research that when this area of the brain [caudate nucleus] is activated we can derive pleasure from certain activities,"​ said Keishi Saruwatari, of Kanebo's laboratories, according to the Daily Telegraph report.

"We interpret that as meaning that when a woman looks at her face she is imagining how she will look when she has applied her make-up."

Transforming self image

The scientists believe that the positive feelings are bought on by the thought of how the appearance might be improved by the make-up application process, transforming the individuals' self image and perception for the better, albeit temporarily.

The team of scientists believe that these type of feelings are experienced during many different beauty routines, including men’s grooming tasks such as shaving and applying cologne.

Ultimately the scientisits believe the data that they have uncovered holds the key to developing cosmetics and personal care products with enhanced emotional values to add appeal for consumers.

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