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The Science of Attractiveness

Unlocking the full force of your allure takes less overhauling than you think.

Source: NinaBuday/Shutterstock

In a world where first impressions matter greatly, it’s no surprise that we often get caught up trying to figure out how to maximize our God-given beauty. After all, who doesn’t want to make heads turn and hearts flutter?

Fortunately, science has you covered. Here are three research-backed techniques to own your image and leave a lasting impression on everyone you meet.

1. Go pro with a “no-makeup” makeup look.

Contrary to some women’s beliefs, research suggests that wearing too much makeup can lead to a miscalibration in judgments of attractiveness. According to research published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, women may mistakenly believe that they need to apply more makeup than necessary to meet the perceived social standards of attractiveness.

The authors state, “The findings suggest that attractiveness perceptions with cosmetics are a form of pluralistic ignorance, whereby women tailor their cosmetics use to an inaccurate perception of others’ preferences.”

Along similar lines, a study published in PLOS ONE suggests that while moderate makeup use can positively influence judgments of attractiveness, competence, likability, and trustworthiness, wearing too much makeup can lead to perceptions of artificiality.

Art Hauntington / Unsplash
Art Hauntington / Unsplash

Therefore, the best approach may be to opt for a “no-makeup” makeup look that enhances your natural features subtly and effortlessly. Test out this look by using a light foundation, neutral eyeshadows, and enhancing eyelashes and brows.

2. Don’t play too hard to get.

Psychological research urges us to question the idea that playing hard to get is a good way to enhance one’s perceived appeal. For instance, one study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that when people can easily understand another person’s emotions, they tend to feel more attracted to them. Alternatively, when we are less confident in our understanding of someone’s emotional state—or in our ability to decode their motives—we tend to become suspicious or even fearful of that person.

Being overly elusive or distant can inadvertently send mixed signals, leading to confusion and potential disinterest from others. Genuine and honest communication is key to building meaningful connections.

3. Keep the flirtations casual and direct.

A study published in Personality and Individual Differences compared which of the following types of female pickup lines were most attractive and interest-provoking to men:

  • Direct pick-up lines: "Want to have a drink together?" "You have really nice eyes." "Can I have your number?" "You're cute."
  • Flippant pick-up lines: "Shall we talk, or continue flirting from a distance?" "I always see you here; you must be the bar's best customer!" "Since you're alone and I'm alone, why don't we sit together?"
  • Innocuous pick-up lines: "Can you recommend a good drink?" "I've seen you before. Do you work here?" "Where did you get that tattoo? Did it hurt?"

Not surprisingly, men rated all forms of pick-up lines coming from attractive females as effective. However, they were most impressed by directness.

“Our findings suggest that direct lines are preferred over flippant and innocuous lines, with the innocuous lines being the least preferred," state the researchers.


Attraction, by definition, is a subjective thing. But there’s also a science to it. By using makeup to slightly enhance (not cover up) your features, keeping communication and flirtation friendly and direct, and exuding your inner happiness, you’ll find the pull of your magnetic radiance to be a bit stronger than before.

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