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Makeup or mask: makeup’s effect on salesperson trustworthiness

Sarah Mittal (Department of Marketing, Texas State University San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas, USA)
David H. Silvera (Department of Marketing, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 31 January 2020

Issue publication date: 24 April 2020




This paper aims to investigate how the use of varying amounts of makeup by sales personnel influences perceived salesperson trustworthiness and downstream purchase intentions/sales effectiveness.


Two studies were run with female and male makeup usage examined separately. In each study, a between-subjects, scenario-based experiment was run on Qualtrics in which participants were randomly assigned to conditions representing a salesperson with varying levels of makeup usage (none to glamorous/extreme).


Using ANOVA, the authors find that the glamorous/extreme makeup condition led to significantly lower perceptions of trustworthiness. Furthermore, mediation models for both studies found that increased salesperson makeup predicted lower perceived trustworthiness, resulting in lower purchase intentions and sales effectiveness.

Practical implications

Managers and salespersons can benefit from these findings through increased awareness of the “masking” effect of wearing too much makeup and the insight that more is not always better when it comes to the use of makeup to increase salesperson attractiveness and effectiveness.


Much work has been done in the past on attractiveness of salespersons in general and the “beauty premium.” The present work expands on this literature by examining a specific strategy, yet to be rigorously examined, that sales personnel may use to increase their attractiveness – makeup, and by identifying an “optimal” level of makeup usage.



Mittal, S. and Silvera, D.H. (2020), "Makeup or mask: makeup’s effect on salesperson trustworthiness", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 271-277.



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