COVERGIRL Conducts Social Experiment Challenging Cultural Perceptions Of Beauty Norms


Wearing makeup can be an emotionally powerful and physically transformative tool for self-expression, yet it can often be trivialized, or even stigmatized. A recent study by IPSOS revealed that 75% of women surveyed wear makeup for themselves – not for anyone else – however, many feel judgment around how, when, and where they choose to use makeup. The survey also revealed that more than half of women who wear makeup stated that they would feel uncomfortable doing their makeup in public. COVERGIRL conducted a social experiment to explore this tension and the cultural stigma around applying makeup in public, and how it related to bigger-picture judgments around wearing makeup, in general.

On June 1, COVERGIRL sent hundreds of people onto the subway and to vanity stations set up outdoors in Manhattan, and asked them to publicly apply their makeup – loud and proud – and then interviewed them about what this act meant, how culture has influenced their choices around makeup and how they express themselves, and what role beauty plays in their lives. The outcome is a video called #ProjectPDA: that is, Public Displays of Application. The short video captures reactions and ignites the conversation around existing perceptions of beauty norms. The effort encourages people to use the hashtag #ProjectPDA to boldly share photos on social media of themselves applying makeup in public settings. To see the video and hear people’s comments, visit:, or follow the conversation via #ProjectPDA on social media.

“This effort is important to COVERGIRL because we believe there is beauty in diversity, in honoring what makes each of us unique, and in empowering people to express this authenticity through their makeup choices,” said Ukonwa Ojo, Global SVP COVERGIRL. “This campaign is a celebration of the many ways women use makeup to represent themselves – however, whenever, and wherever they choose.”


Photo by Elaina Rae Haehnle