A study published in the February 2006 issue of the International Journal of Dermatology suggests that using makeup to cover a severe facial blemish may not improve the quality of a woman’s life.

“Though they may not have much effect on physical health, severe facial marks may have a significant impact on self-image; and over time, that could adversely affect a woman’s health,” says Rajesh Balkrishnan, PhD, study author and the Merrell Dow professor of pharmacy at Ohio State University (Columbus). “The women in our study reported having more problems with social and sexual functioning than with physical functioning.”

Of the 73 women in the study, 66 used what Balkrishnan calls “corrective cosmetics” (skin-colored foundations meant to conceal serious blemishes), while seven did not. The majority of women studied had severe facial scarring, acne, melasma, or hyperpigmentation.

When the researchers asked the women to describe what they thought their lives would be like if they did not have to contend with their blemishes, most of them answered that having a severe facial blemish negatively affected how they perceived the quality of their lives.