Do Cosmetics Do More Harm than Good to Us Emotionally?

New study shows emotional connection to makeup

People who use cosmetics buy these products primarily for emotional reasons, says a new study. “Consumer satisfaction is greatest when the cosmetics brand helps to strengthen positive emotions through the perception of ‘caring for oneself’ and removing feelings of worry and guilt about not taking care of one’s appearance,” says study author Vanessa Apaolaza, a researcher from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), which has been published in the African Journal of Business Management.

Paradoxically, in order for the brand to provide this positive emotional experience, it must first cause consumers to have negative feelings about themselves.

The Cosmetic Paradox

“Consumers compare their own level of physical attractiveness with that of the models used in adverts, and that these comparisons give rise to negative effects in the way they perceive their own physical attractiveness and on their self-esteem. These effects are most heightened among people with the greatest awareness of their public image,” Apaolaza says.

The study points to the need to eliminate these negative emotions and to soothe women’s worries about looking good as one of their main psychological motivations for buying cosmetics.

“Our emotions often dictate our decisions. In our buying behavior, we make emotional decisions and justify them rationally. These emotions are in part learned and in part instinctive,” says Apaolaza.

The study focused on face and body creams, and was conducted through personal surveys on 355 women aged between 18 and 50. They were asked to evaluate various aspects of their perceptions of the functional and emotional factors of the cosmetics they used, as well as their degree of satisfaction with them.

Being Attractive

One thing that could explain the importance assigned to the unconscious emotional desire “to be sexually attractive”, which encourages people to buy cosmetics, can be found in one of the most basic natures of the human being, explained in the Darwinist approach to attraction: beautiful faces and well-formed bodies are important biological indicators of a person’s value as a sexual partner.

Of the emotional brand-related components studied, “the positive feeling gained from experiencing greater success in social interactions” has the greatest impact on pleasure, the study says.

How do cosmetics, shaving gels, grooming kits, and so on affect your life? Does this emotional response to products resonate with you, or do you feel unaffected?

Category: Style

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