The 'Makeup Tax' Most Working Women Pay

Does the woman on the right look more "professional" to you? Because that makeup job took at least 15 minutes, and a minimum of 6 pricy products to achieve. . (Photo: Vladmir Gjorjiev/Shutterstock)

There are many reasons I love working from home (midday '80s dance parties are probably first on that list), but it has had one huge and unexpected bonus: I've added hours to my day.

How? I've estimated that in working from home, I "save" almost four hours per day over my previous schedule, which admittedly, included a long commute from Connecticut to Manhattan (an hour train ride, plus 10 minutes each way to get to the train station and work, for a grand total of 3 hours and 10 minutes of commute time). I did that commute, or one about an hour each way for a more local job in Connecticut, for 10 years.

But I save time (and commensurately, money) somewhere else too: Hair, makeup and clothes. It was an unexpected savings that made me realize how much time I used to spend "making myself presentable."

Not having to put on makeup, ensure I have a work-appropriate outfit put together, and (for me) not having to tame my wild curls each day, saves me at least 30 minutes a day. That's 10 hours a month! That's time I now use to work out and meditate (so when you hear women say they "don't have time" to exercise, it may very well be because they're spending that time on makeup and hair.)

And the cash savings! All those trips to CVS to pick up this or that thing for my hair or makeup, are gone. I haven't had a professional haircut or color in two years — a that's thousands saved right there.

As Olga Khazan writes over at The Atlantic, almost no job "forces" employees to wear makeup, though there are some jobs that require it. But it's an accepted norm for women to do so in professional environments. "Makeup, in short, is a norm, and nothing ruins a first impression like a norm violation. Some women contend they only wear makeup to 'boost their confidence,' but the reason they feel less confident when they don’t wear it is that there’s an expectation they will."

And this isn't just a few women complaining about a "makeup tax," it's one backed up with studies, like this one from 2006 that found: "Participants also awarded women wearing makeup with a greater earning potential and with more prestigious jobs than the same women without cosmetics." So while it's often said, "Girl, you don't need makeup," Amy Schumer has proven (hilariously) that it's just not true.

Not wearing makeup every day means my skin is healthier, and not conforming my hair to traditional business standards (i.e.: straightness) means that for the first time in 15 years, my naturally curly mop is long and strong, past my shoulder blades.

I get to wear comfortable, kinda-crazy outfits because I'm dressing for myself, not some outside standard. I'm not a wear-pajamas-all-day person at all — but I always hated the expected work "uniforms" and frankly, I find pants terribly uncomfortable in any iteration. I prefer long skirts. If need be, I can always slip a jacket on over my caftan and do an interview or video appearance and look professional.

It's awesome to save time, money and get to be comfortable while I'm at work.

What's the solution? Well, women could, en masse, stop wearing makeup in protest. Or, men could start wearing it. (Hey, at least that would be fair.)

The truth is, makeup can be fun to wear — but when it becomes an expectation, it becomes a chore. I still wear makeup sometimes, but only when I'm doing it for fun.

I wish all professional women had the same choice as I do.