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No makeup? No way, almost half of American women say

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Judging by the glut of beauty products that promise a "natural look," women don't want to look too made up.

But many don't dare go bare either. That could bring on a serious case of the uglies, UPI reports.

Nearly half of American women feel homelier when they're not wearing makeup, according to a Harris poll conducted on behalf of the Renfrew Center Foundation, an American non-profit organization dedicated to the treatment of eating disorders.

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The survey found that 16 per cent of women said they felt unattractive when not wearing cosmetics, 14 per cent said they felt self-conscious without them and 14 per cent felt naked without makeup.

The results aren't surprising considering that one quarter of the women surveyed had been wearing makeup since age 13 or earlier. When you grow up like the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby – "wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door" – the sight of your own bare mug out in public could be a shock.

"Wearing makeup to enhance one's appearance is normal in our society and often a rite of passage for young women," Adrienne Ressler, the Renfrew Center's national training director, said in a statement. "There is concern, however, when makeup no longer becomes a tool for enhancement but, rather, a security blanket that conceals negative feelings about one's self-image and self-esteem."

That being said, the reluctance to go barefaced is understandable in a culture that rewards those who buy into the beauty myth.

A recent Harvard study found that women who wear substantial makeup at work were perceived as more competent, likeable and trustworthy by their colleagues, The Globe and Mail reported.

The Harvard research was funded by Procter & Gamble, the owners of CoverGirl, and other women's beauty products, which suggests a pro-makeup bias. Nevertheless, it confirmed what Egyptian beauties discovered millennia ago: You'll never charm a pharaoh or be immortalized in tomb art without strategically kohl-lined eyes.

Women, how often do you go without makeup? Men, do you think most women should wear more makeup, or less?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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