How often — and why — American women wear makeup

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
December 11, 2023, 9:21 PM GMT+0

Polling by YouGov finds that most women in the United States wear makeup on at least some occasions, including 38% who say they wear it at least a few times a week or daily. Just one-quarter (26%) say they never wear makeup. The frequency of wearing makeup varies by age: Younger women are less likely than older women to wear makeup on a regular basis. Education also plays a role: Women without any college education are more likely than those who have gone to college to say they never wear makeup.

What types of makeup are most popular? Mascara is what women are most likely to say they wear on a regular basis; about half — 46% — say they do. Nearly as many (43%) say they regularly wear lipstick or lipgloss. About one in three say they regularly wear each of foundation (35%), eyeliner (32%), eyeshadow (31%), or blush (30%).

How long does it take women who wear makeup to apply it? Most women (73%) who wear makeup say they typically spend 20 minutes or less applying it, including 45% who say it takes them less than 10 minutes.

One-third of women (35%) say that societal expectations influence their decision to wear makeup either a great deal or a fair amount. Women under 45 are about twice as likely as older women to say their makeup choices are shaped at least a fair amount by social expectations (44% vs. 24%).

Why do women wear makeup? When asked to select all that apply from a list of reasons, the largest share (49%) say they wear it for a confidence boost, and 45% say it is for special occasions. About one-third say they wear it to enhance certain features (34%) and nearly as many say they wear makeup to cover blemishes (30%).

Women 45 and older are far more likely than younger women to say they wear makeup to hide signs of aging (36% vs. 12%). Younger women, on the other hand, are more likely than older women to cite self-expression as a reason for wearing makeup (34% vs. 16%).

— Carl Bialik contributed to this article


See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: This poll was conducted online on June 23 - 27, 2023 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.

Note: Responses to questions on makeup are limited to women. This decision was aimed at ensuring data accuracy. However, this approach does not capture the experiences of men, non-binary people, or transgender people who wear makeup.

Image: Unsplash (Annie Spratt)

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