Almost half (49%) surveyed said it would be a major factor in their decision if the position was in sales or was a public-facing role in the company.
A similar proportion of company executives admitted they would discriminate against female staff who did not wear cosmetics on a regular basis, with almost 61% saying it would have a detrimental effect on the woman’s promotion prospects.
Almost 40% said female staff would be much less likely to get promoted if the job entailed meeting people and members of the public.
The survey by the beauty retailer Escentual.com also found that more than two thirds of bosses (67%) would take a dim view of female staff not wearing make-up at key business meetings.
This attitude appeared to be having an impact on women’s confidence, as two thirds of female staff said they would feel much less confident if they were at a high-level meeting without cosmetics on.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a similar proportion (64%) of female staff surveyed said they would always wear make-up at work, and almost all women (98%) said they would wear make-up to a job interview.
Emma Leslie, Escentual.com beauty editor, said: "Whether rightly or wrongly, British bosses clearly think that keeping up appearances at work is an important factor for female staff if they want to get on in their career.
"It's also quite startling to learn that women feel that they need make-up in order to impress at work, and our survey showed there is a strong psychological element to wearing make-up that makes women feel more poised, confident and 'put together'.
“We would like to point out that great skincare, healthy diet and positive attitude are also fantastic for boosting confidence, and that should also be an attractive thing for employers."