Forget the Red Bull; pull out the lipstick.

Posted on August 12th, 2009 by Michelle


Need a cheap thrill? Your brain loves putting on makeup.

Japanese scientists determined that women experience a rush of anticipation and optimism as they prepare to apply makeup. The study, which was conducted over two years and released in early 2009, was sponsored by cosmetics company Kanebo.

The team of researchers working on project “Cosmetics, Beauty and Brain Science,” used a brain scanner to monitor reactions as women looked at their faces without and with makeup and prepared to pretty it up.

They expected to find that subjects experienced positive emotions AFTER putting on the glitz. They were surprised to find that those emotions start when the action is anticipated. The scientists believe that when looking at their natural faces in the mirror and thinking about how they will eventually look to others, a reward system is activated in the caudet nucleus in the brain. That sensation of pleasure comes with the release of dopamine.

The study focused on women, but the researchers believe men experience a similar reaction before applying cologne. (LookinGood thinks it would probably happen before manscaping as well …) And no results were reported on the brain activitiy of the researchers as they headed to the lab each day to work on this project.

“There is a mixture of expectation, encouragement and ambition,” Keishi Saruwatari told the Telegraph of London, saying it helps women build relationships.

Still, did it really take a team of scientists two years to be surprised by the fact that thinking about doing something that makes you happy causes as much of a rush of pleasure as the outcome of the activity?

Heck, they could have put a frosted cupcake in front of Michelle and gotten the same results: The anticipation would result in her smearing it on her face.

The cosmetics companies, of course, will use this information to develop products that play on emotional values. Interestingly enough, the marketers of cosmetics have been doing this for about a century.

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A short history of cosmetics

150BC Romans use yellow eye shadow.

The Romans preferred to use gold-colored eye shadow which was made from saffron and painted onto the area around the sides and under their eyes. Then they used powdered wood ash to color their eyelids black. This gold color was quite significant at the time because they saw themselves as the rulers of the Mediterranean.