Is there anything more intimate than the relationship between a woman and her makeup? We wear it on a daily basis to help hide our flaws and enhance our natural beauty. Most of us wouldn’t dare leave the house without putting on some form of makeup (unless it’s Monday… remember Makeup Free Mondays?) Makeup is a powerful thing and now there’s a new benefit. A recent study published in theNew York Times last week shows that women who wear makeup appear more competent.

Makeup is known for boosting a woman’s natural appearance. But, now it turns out it can also increase people’s perceptions of her likability, her competence and her trustworthiness. All key to landing that job or moving ahead in her career. Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin said that “we conflate looks and a willingness to take care of yourself with a willingness to take care of people.” Taking those few moments for yourself in the morning may show your boss that you’re willing to exert the same effort into the job.

There were 25 female participants in the study ranging from 20 to 50 years old. There was a mix in race: White, African-American and Hispanic. They were each photographed barefaced and in 3 looks that researchers called natural, professional and glamorous. Here’s an example:

149 adults (including 61 men) judged the pictures for a quick second to test their first impressions. Then 119 different adults (including 30 men) were given unlimited time to look at the same faces. Both had fairly equal reactions and preferred the professional look rather than barefaced or glamorous.

Dr.  Sarah Vickery, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry, said that cosmetics “can significantly change how people see you, how smart people think you are on first impression, or how warm and approachable, and that look is completely within a woman’s control, when there are so many things you cannot control.” Do everything you can to ensure you are considered for the position.

Bobbi Brown, founder of her namesake cosmetics line, said that the wrong color on a subject may have caused some testers to conclude that women with high-contrasting makeup were more “untrustworthy.” “People will have a bad reaction if it’s not the right color, not the right texture, or if the makeup is not enhancing your natural beauty,” she said. So take the time to understand what works best for you.

Dr. Vickery, a Procter & Gamble scientist*, said that “there are times when you want to give a powerful ‘I’m in charge here’ kind of impression, and women shouldn’t be afraid to do that,” by, say, using a deeper lip color that could look shiny, increasing luminosity. “Other times you want to give off a more balanced, more collaborative appeal” so she recommends lip tones that are light to moderate in color saturation, providing contrast to facial skin, but not being too glossy.

So, what level of makeup do YOU wear to work? Have you noticed a difference in the way you’re treated by your boss and colleagues when you go au-natural as opposed to wearing a finished face?

*The study was paid for by Procter & Gamble, which sells CoverGirl and Dolce & Gabbana makeup.