Love at First Swipe
In a world ruled by bite-sized bios and split-second decisions, are appearances everything? COSMO enlisted 10 women for a month-long Tinder makeup experiment to ind out
When Michael’s proile popped up on my Tinder feed, my thumb moved instinctively to swipe left. Far from my usual artsy type, his frat-boy good looks and photos featuring beer and the requisite puppy made me assume he’d be – how do I put this nicely? – a total douche bag. And since my bio touts my love of writing and punk music (unashamed hipster here), I igured he probably wouldn’t be into me either. But I was dating under cover, with a proile pic of me wearing way more makeup than I normally would – so I thought, why not? Perhaps Michael would be into this alternate version of me. I swiped right. Boom: we were a match!
According to Tinder statistics, women wearing heavy makeup on the app are 55% more likely to be swiped right on than women wearing no makeup, and 26% more likely than women wearing light makeup.
So COSMO recruited 10 women (four are shown here) of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and body types to dig deeper – specifically, to suss out how the way we do our makeup influences who will approach us, and how they’ll interact with us. We spent a month swiping on Tinder: two weeks using profiles with natural makeup (nothing more than light foundation, mascara and groomed brows) and two weeks on new accounts rocking glam to the nines (full-on contour, dramatic eyes, major arches and bold lips). Photos were taken in our office to avoid outliers (resting bitch faces, insane cleavage). Everything else was kept constant between our two profiles, from bios to the number of daily right swipes.
So, can a flick of eyeliner or bright lips really mean the difference between respectful conversation and crude advances? Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, author of Anatomy Of Love, says yes: ‘But it’s not that the same man would treat you differently between the two appearance types; it’s that you’re attracting an entirely different type of man.’
According to her research, all of us (male and female) are born with four basic temperament styles. Which one you express depends on your brain chemistry. There are explorers (whose high dopamine levels make them seek out new experiences), builders (in whom serotonin, a mood stabiliser, is the most prominent), directors (testosterone, the traditional ‘male’ hormone, is the driver) and negotiators (oestrogen dominates, so these are primarily women).
‘Male directors tend to be drawn to women high in oestrogen,’ Fisher says. ‘Because makeup often mimics signs of higher oestrogen levels (red lips, large eyes) it’s no surprise that higher levels of makeup attract the high-testosterone men.’ Some traits of directors?
Whatever you’re looking for online, one thing is clear: makeup is a powerful tool for taking charge of your love life
Self-confidence and assertiveness but with reduced empathy – similar to the guys we encountered on our glam profiles.
On the flip side, men expressive of the explorers style (they tend to be curious, energetic and creative) and builders style (they’re more traditional rule-followers) are more likely to care about interests in a Tinder bio – like if you’re into hiking or looking to start a family – rather than appearance alone. These, Fisher hypothesises, are the men we crossed paths with on our natural accounts.
Whatever you’re looking for online, one thing is clear: makeup is a powerful tool for taking charge of your love life. Want to weed out the players? Try an #IWokeUpLikeThis shot as your main photo. Seeking a flirty convo or a FWB? Work in pics with liner or lipstick.
As for Michael, my hot, jock-y glam match? After a few days of texting back and forth, we met up. Four margaritas and five hours of flirty banter later, I walked home – my cat’s eye melted off from crying with laughter, my red lipstick worn away from a goodbye kiss. Hello, future hook-up!