An Abertay University study found both women and men came to the same judgment.
Participants were shown as 16 pairs of images, showing a woman made up as if for a social night out and make-up free, and asked to choose the better leader. Computer software was used to adjust the amount of make-up shown.
Researchers said both male and female participants evaluated women more negatively as a potential leader if the image suggested she was wearing a lot of make-up.
Christopher Watkins, of the university’s division of psychology, said: “Our research suggests make-up does not enhance a woman’s dominance by benefiting how we evaluate her in a leadership role.”