The allure of dramatic eye makeup and va-va-voom red lips on women has biological roots, according to a series of studies by Richard Russell of Gettysburg College. Russell photographed 118 makeup-free faces and calculated their contrast—how much darker the eyes and lips were than the surrounding skin. Females had more contrast than males.
Contrast differences guide gender perceptions as well. Russell manipulated an androgynous headshot by darkening or lightening the mouth and eyes. Subjects judged the image with increased contrast as female, decreased as male.
Measurements also showed that putting on makeup for a night out on the town increases facial contrast, suggesting one way cosmetics increase femininity and attractiveness. Check out some makeup options below.
Make it Pop
PT-tested products guaranteed to inspire double takes.
Lancôme Le Crayon Khôl (in Black Lapis), $23.50
I created the ultimate smoky eye using this liner. The variety of available shades makes it easy to find one for you.