What’s the most under appreciated behavioral solution of all time?
Every morning women wake up and put on sunscreen. Ok, ok. We don’t usually call it sunscreen, we call it makeup. And, we won’t walk out of house without our sunscreen, errr make-up.
Makeup is the vessel for sunscreen. Just like bread is the vessel for hummus and mint toothpaste is the vessel for dental hygiene. As Charles Duhigg explains in his book, the inventor of toothpaste wasn’t selling healthy teeth. He was selling a minty way to get rid of morning breath. People craved that immediate minty freshness and they equated it with cleanliness. The story tells itself — teeth brushing became a universal habit. Every morning across the world we wake up and brush our teeth — not because we care about long term dental hygiene but because we want that freshness.
Makeup works the same way. Once women see their smooth and beautiful skin with foundation on we get used to how we look in the mirror. We crave this feeling every day.
Just like mint toothpaste, makeup helps us do the right thing for the wrong reasons.
Without the allure of achieving a perfectly contoured face, the majority of women would not religiously apply sunscreen in the morning. Makeup is just the vessel for sunscreen.
Of course, the great makeup/sunscreen heist leaves a lot to be desired.
Foundations with less than 30 SPF are just not that helpful. And sadly SPF needs to be re-applied every 2 hours to have the intended effect. While many women may ‘freshen up’ mid day, most don’t re-apply their makeup every two hours.
There is hope to harness this insight and expand it’s powers (powders!) for good. Many makeup powders have over 30 SPF.
Powder is something that women could easily apply multiple times a day to keep that fresh look and beautiful (skin cancer free) face.
Thus, next time you’re at a CVS or Walgreens indulge in some new powder. Just remember to keep re-applying your sunscreen, errr makeup to get all the benefits.
And for men? Maybe it’s time to get in the make up game — not because it’s good for you of course, but because of vanity.