Should Makeup Be Tax Deductible as a Business Expense if Wearing It Meant Earning More Money at Work?

Published in: Just For Fun

Business woman in makeup

A new study published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management shows that makeup can boost a woman’s earning potential by a whopping 25 percent!


Researchers studied 186 men and 98 women who all lunched alone in the same restaurant, served by two waitresses aged 19 and 20.

After a beautician applied makeup to the waitresses, male customers were 70 percent more likely to leave a tip, and the average size of each tip rose by 25 percent.

The addition of makeup had virtually no effect on the amount of tips that female customers left, but the researchers said the results had implications for all women in the workplace.

Psychologist Ingrid Collins of the London Medical Centre said men tipped the made-up waitresses more because they appeared more alluring –- and also because cosmetics made them seem more “child-like and needy…”


“It makes men feel they need to be masculine and tipping, providing for this need, does that rather well.”

Or, did the women wearing makeup just look cleaner, tidier, more confident and organized?

What do you think? Would you wear makeup if it meant earning more money at work?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 26 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Rachel says:

    Childlike and needy? Whaaat?

  2. Zara says:

    Indeed! I agree with Rachel… >:[

  3. Sejal says:

    If I earned 25% more? Heck yeah!

    I too don’t understand the childlike and needy part…I would think the opposite because sometimes it makes young women look older.

    Sejal´s last blog post..Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum

  4. diana says:

    It seems to me that you can get a tax deductible on just about anything these days. If wearing makeup meant me getting an increase in earnings, you bet!

    diana´s last blog post..Lavanila’s The Healthy Deodorant

  5. Childlike and needy? As in, adult males playing PS2 for five hours straight without bothering to shower and eat? Exactly!

    Anyways, yeah I would. In fact I would wear a lil makeup even at home on weekends just for the heck of it. =)

    After all, isn’t looking polishes equals looking professional serious about your career?

    HaNNa_HuLLaBaLoo´s last blog post..ESTEE LAUDER Gentle Eye Makeup Remover

  6. Dao says:

    Well, if we get tax deductibles for makeup, how about clothes, shoes, and cars? And regarding the “child-like and needy” part, what kind of makeup did these waitresses wear? And who wrote this article, anyways? A group of men?

    Dao´s last blog post..StudioTools Dual-Finish Brush: Now, If I Had Two Dollars…

  7. Then by that same extension we should get tax deductions for wearing nice clothes and shoes and bags, etc. I think that’s pretty strange to be honest…

    On another note, I LOVE the way your cartoon woman looks in this post!

    Vampy Varnish´s last blog post..Vampy Varnish Poll

  8. Sarah says:

    It sounds like that researcher had an agenda! Any truly scientific research asks a question, collects data, and analyzes the data collected w/o making assumptions or judgements. That conclusion assumes a lot about the customer feelings and thoughts! Ugghh, I hate quasi-science.

  9. Jenna says:

    I partially agree with Sarah. The conclusion the psychologist comes to is a mere assumption, though the customers, though the usage of the words “child like” and “needy” may have directly come from the mouths of the male customers.

    Also, for this experiment to have any weight at all, it would have to be universally concluded that these women were of natural equal attractiveness, which could only be done by using identical twins with the exact same styling, though one with makeup and one without. But this study clearly didn’t use identical twins, because it would have mentioned that important piece of information.

  10. Christina says:

    Jenna, I think you’re on to something. If those terms came from male customers, then maybe there’s some truth to that image being created with the use of makeup. BUT… my first reaction is that the researching psychologist is making a judgment that sounds unwarranted.

    I wear makeup when I’m home… maybe not as much, but some. I feel more pulled together, and I’m more likely to work and act professionally.

    Christina´s last blog post..Two Sides To This Story, Or, LeAnn Is Not A Stalker

  11. Solé says:

    I don’t think this study makes any implications about women or female behavior, rather it reinforces what we already know about the subconscious nature of many men. I don’t understand why anyone would be offended by it or think the study wasn’t scientific. Any woman who has gone out to run errands without makeup on knows how invisible we can appear to the male population in general when we aren’t all dolled up. It doesn’t surprise me at all that men tip better when the waitress is wearing makeup. Men notice attractive women more and makeup makes us attractive – but it also goes beyond that.

    Since both women served tables with makeup on, and without makeup (according to the article Karen linked), any difference in their beauty would be completely irrelevant.

    What the psychiatrist was referring to when she said the women looked more “child-like and needy” is the “cute factor.” Believe it or not, that is an actual scientific term. Womens’ faces are obviously more feminine than men’s but there is a biological reason for that. Our foreheads are rounder, our features are softer, our eyes are wider, and our jaws are narrower like that of a baby. Those are just built-in visual signals that make humans (and other mammals) want to take care of their babies, and men want to mate with women. It’s a survival mechanism built into our species.

    Makeup makes us look more feminine, so when we wear it we are on mens’ radars much more than when we don’t. Flushed cheeks, rosy lips, arched eyebrows, bright eyes, etc. They are all visual cues that men respond to biologically. Can we really blame them? Obviously we’re all here because we like makeup so we’re contributing to this phenomenon. I for one, have no issue with that.

    As far as being able to use that as a tax write-off, I think it could be possible (in sales or service jobs) but we’re still years away from that. More studies would need to be conducted reaching the same conclusion before this issue could be taken to that level.

  12. Luv J says:

    Good question Karen.. I use to say that health insurance should cover makeup since it’s the most potent anti-depressant! Who needs Prozac when a bright new lippie can get me out of a rut 🙂

  13. Eru says:

    “…cosmetics made them seem more child-like and needy…” LOL 😀 ! This is totally not my case. I look like I’m 14 without make up!
    Answering your question, I always wear make up at work because I like to look polished and honestly, no one deserves to see my dark circles. 😛 I wish it made me earn more! Hehe~

    Eru´s last blog post..YSL fall collection 09

  14. Dot says:

    Funny. Child-like and needy. lol.

    Though that might be true in terms of how the men think. It is so funny. All the men I know that keep insisting that their women look better without make-up, still end up drooling over other women with nice make-up. It is totally weird.

    And this includes my husband. I don’t know about the drooling part, but he will definitely choose the woman with make-up if asked which among two women looks more attractive. And he insists women look better without. Duh. I think he doesn’t really know make-up when he sees it and thinks it is ‘natural’ beauty.

  15. Faye says:

    God, I am so sick of these pseudo-feminists jumping all over completely harmless things like wearing makeup. They waste time trying to make women feel guilty for using things that make them feel and look better, and then they call themselves “psychologists.” WTF?

    Sorry to be so strong, but this REALLY bugs me. There are many genuine issues facing women today — balancing work and families, women’s health issues, pay parity and the glass ceiling — and I think we need the support of each other in dealing with them. Denigrating a woman for wearing cosmetics is not only snarky and mean, but dumb. Maybe those men just liked seeing an attractive woman. What’s wrong with that? Not everyone has to be a model, but certainly I respond better to a man at work who has taken the time to put himself together. It shows respect for the job. Makeup is a part of grooming, even if it’s just a bit of blush and lipstick.

    And wearing makeup makes a women “child-like?” What children outside of beauty pageants wear makeup? I hope this woman doesn’t have kids.

    In my opinion the only person who comes across as “needy” is this woman. She “needs” a life, and a real job.

  16. Tess says:

    How does wearing makeup make a woman look more child-like and needy? It’s been my experience and observation that a woman generally looks older and more sophisticated wearing makeup than without it. Also, how is it that a woman looks “needy?” Financially needy? Emotionally needy? What look connotes neediness? I would like to read how these researchers came up with these descriptions.

  17. Shannon says:

    My guess is that the female customers would’ve tipped a male waiter more if he was cleaned up and nice-looking. I guess they were studying the effects of makeup, which guys don’t tend to wear. So I guess they were going in to this study assuming that only women can be studied with the effects of makeup/no makeup. Which bothers me a little, but oh well.

    And, ladies: a clean-shaven guy could look (or be described as) “more child-like and needy” than a guy with a full beard. But which one would you tip more?

  18. penelope says:

    probably not

  19. Redhead says:

    Here’s my viewpoint:
    Earning 25% more in tips does sound pretty sweet. However, it’s through the demeaning seduction of male customers that they feel pretty, “childlike and needy” girls deserve a bit more of their moolah, which I think is totally sexist. Bottom line: If earning more money means giving into a sexist belief, I’m out.

  20. Faye says:

    But Redhead, the thing is that none of the male customers called the waitresses “needy and childlike.” That was the interpretation the researchers invented. The only thing they established was that the waitresses with makeup earned more tips than those without. And as someone with a research background, I can tell you even those are suspect results.

    There are tons of other factors that could have impacted the results, and we don’t know if they were controlled for. Examples: Did the makeup versus non-makeup waitresses serve the same types of customers? Businessmen may tip more than college students. Were the waitresses all serving at the same times? Certain times may be busier, and thus more tips. Did they serve the same areas of the restaurant? Certain areas get served faster, may be quieter, people may be happier and so feel inclined to tip more. Did the waitresses serve the same types of orders? People with complicated or larger orders may feel compelled to tip more than the guys who popped in for a quick snack. Did the makeup versus non-makeup wearing waitresses have the same level of experience? More experience might equal bigger tips. I could go on and on but you see my point.

    My biggest problem with this “study” is that, based on the very biased and nasty descriptions of the researchers, you can tell those researchers went into this study with a preconceived bias against makeup and expectations of what they would find. And no surprise — they found it. They tossed out the 25% figure to make it sound scientific, but there’s no indication they used any scientific method that would validate their conclusions.

    Also, I think they are very wrong to imply wearing makeup = seducing women. If you were at a place like Hooters, I could see it, but do you really believe, as the authors of the study imply, that the act of wearing makeup and putting yourself together, no matter how subtly you do so, equals “seducing men?” Because that attitude, which the authors imply, seems more misogynistic and sexist to me than any tipping. If we’re to buy into that might as well all give up and go around covered in burquas.

    Rant over — sorry to digress so far from makeup :).

  21. Lana says:

    Uh, i hope I don’t sound too hard when I say this, but if the only reason I was getting a raise was because I added blush and mascara to my routine I would quit so fast it would make my superior’s head’s spin.

    I deserve a raise based on my work ethic, integrity and loyalty to the company. Not my looks.

  22. Kewal says:

    To me wearing make up is an essential part of my grooming – I like to look “polished and pulled together”. It boosts my confidence when I look good. Now most women look good with makeup (even minimal – mascara & lipgloss) there are VERY FEW women out there who actually look good without makeup. I have never seen any woman with makeup looking “child-like and needy” – the connotation itself sounds gross!

  23. Rachel says:

    Haha, I totally concur Hanna!

  24. AnneMarieB says:

    I’m not sure of the effect of wearing make-up boosting your earnings potential, but I definitely agree that it gives you an edge in how you present yourself. I think people do form an opinion of you based on the image you project, whether that’s fair or not, and it’s definitely true in the workplace. I think those that put themselves together with a more polished look tend to be perceived differently than those who don’t. I see it every morning riding the bus to work & also in the office… those women who have taken the time to get ready for work, and those who look like they just threw something on and grabbed their bag… hate to say it, but it makes a difference.

  25. Jessica says:

    I just absolutely love Fay’s answer!You go girl, and that goes for all of us. Girl Power!

  26. Sakura says:

    I agree with Fay. Based on the except the study sounds suspect.
    I myself don’t feel dressed with out make-up. I wear it because I like it. The girls at Bryn Mawr used to say that I thought that way because of the influences of a male dominant society. If it gives me a one up, great!

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