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13 Things Scientifically Proven to Make You More Attractive

Maybe she's born with it, as the commercial goes, or maybe it's these other factors super-sizing attractiveness.

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African-american woman having fun and laughing, lying on the bedProstock-studio/Shutterstock

Smile more if you’re female

Much of the science of attraction is rooted in biology—and who we think would make a good mate to reproduce with. So, how to be more attractive is tapping into what the opposite sex (if you’re heterosexual) is looking for. Smiling in women was shown in a University of British Columbia study to be more attractive than other expressions; but the same didn’t hold true for men. “People typically associate expressions of happiness with femininity,” says Alec Beall, PhD, a UBC psychologist and one of the authors of the study. “This gender normative inconsistency could be responsible for the relative unattractiveness of male happiness.” Smiling makes women look friendly and “sexually receptive” (in other words, more interested in having sex). “Evolutionarily, men have been programmed to seek out women who will be receptive to their advances,” Dr. Beall says.

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Portrait of stunning woman in red dresssanneberg/Shutterstock

Wear red

What are some associations we have with the colour red? Passion, roses, heat, and… sex. For this very reason, science has shown that wearing red is one way how to look more attractive. “This red-attractiveness link is partially explained by men’s perceptions of implied sexual receptivity among women wearing reddish garb,” Dr. Beall says. “In 2013, my colleagues and I even noted this effect among a small-scale society in Burkina Faso, West Africa, suggesting that men’s attraction to red is a cultural universal.” So no matter where you’re living, if you’re looking for love, red should be your go-to colour. And you might even be doing this subconsciously—Dr. Beall says studies have shown women tend to wear red and pink when they are biologically more sexually receptive, like during ovulation.

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A couple spending quality time

Don’t play hard to get

Women might think they appear more attractive if they keep their partner guessing as to how they really feel—and some research does support this (one study from China found that playing hard to get kept men’s interest only after they had chosen a prospective partner). But a more recent study from Germany suggests that people are more likely to rate others as attractive if they can easily understand the emotions they’re displaying. The reason for this is in the brain: How well the study participants could decode the other’s “neural vocabulary.” “Partners must understand and continuously update information about their partner’s current intentions and motivation, anticipate the other’s behaviour, and adapt their own behaviour accordingly,” study author Silke Anders, a neuroscientist at the University of Lübeck, told Time. “Understanding and personal attraction seem to depend on both the sender’s brain and the perceiver’s brain, and on how well they match.”

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Handsome mature businessman with mobile phone in the officeGoran Bogicevic/Shutterstock

Speak in a higher pitched voice for women, lower for men

Ladies, think that smoky voice sounds sexy? You might want to think again. Research from the U.K. has found that a higher-pitched voice in women is more attractive to men—and vice versa, that a lower-pitched voice in men is more attractive to women. “Past work suggests a higher voice pitch is perceived as coming from someone who is physically smaller in terms of body size,” Dr. Beall says. “Gender dimorphic—in other words, typically feminine—qualities such as these have been shown to increase men’s sexual attraction to women.” The opposite would hold true for women, who evolutionarily seek out male mates who are larger in size, signaled by a low voice. But in the U.K. study, breathiness in men as well as in women was considered attractive, which the authors say may be because it softened the aggressiveness associated with a large body size.

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Have a sense of humour

“He makes me laugh,” is one of the reasons women often say they find their mate attractive. A sense of humour in a man has been scientifically proven to draw the attention of women. “Studies have found that both women and men list ‘a sense of humour’ as a highly desirable trait in a potential romantic partner,” Dr. Beall says. “But other studies have found that only women actually rate a funnier man as more desirable—women’s desirability was less affected by how funny they actually were.” This means women want men who make them laugh, but men want women to laugh at their jokes. “Some have argued that women’s particularly pronounced attraction to funnier men is deeply rooted in our evolutionary past,” Dr. Beall says. “The production of humour requires heritable cognitive skills such as intelligence and creativity, so mating with a funnier person may provide direct genetic benefits to potential offspring.” Because women are evolutionarily the primary caregivers for youngsters, they may be particularly concerned with having kids with good genes.

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Sweet middle-aged woman playing with her nice brown spanish waterdog on a sunny summer day in a central park in madrid. Lifestyle.Lucia Romero/Shutterstock

Get a dog

Pets are instant conversation-starters, and who doesn’t love a cute puppy? So it’s not surprising that researchers from France found that women were three times more likely to give their number to a dude with a dog as one without. Evolutionarily, “women tend to allocate more resources to child rearing, while men devote more time and energy to mating,” Hal Herzog, PhD, a psychology professor at West Carolina University and an expert in human-animal interactions, wrote on Psychology Today. So, “women should be more sensitive than men to how their dates treat their own dogs and cats. Men, on the other hand, should be more likely to use their pets to attract sexual partners.” According to a survey from the University of Nevada, half of the women judged a date based on how he treated his pet, and 35 per cent said they were more attracted to a man who owned a pet. Twenty-two per cent of men said they had used their pet to attract a mate.

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Tender moment. Close up of loving elderly couple holding hands on the streetOlena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Be kind

When it comes to attraction, it’s definitely not all about looks. As in the Gwyneth Paltrow movie Shallow Hal, good people often seem more attractive. “The ‘halo effect’ suggests that those who are perceived as physically attractive are also perceived as having socially favourable personality traits like kindness,” Dr. Beall says. “Interestingly, recent research suggests that this stereotype may also work in the opposite direction—socially favourable personality traits may also affect ratings of physical attractiveness.” One study from China asked three groups of people to look at pictures of faces and rate their attractiveness. The group given positive personality info on the faces (the others were given negative or no info) rated the faces as more attractive. “Mounting evidence suggests that the ‘what is good is beautiful’ stereotype may also hold true,” Dr. Beall says.

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Male client getting haircut by hairdresserOlena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Groom yourself

This one seems like a no-brainer: If you are looking for a partner, it’s best not to look like a slob. You probably “clean up good,” right? There are biological reasons for this. “Research shows a large part of physical attraction is centred on the more changeable aspects of our self-presentation,” says psychologist Jeremy Nicholson, MSW, PhD, who writes The Attraction Doctor blog on Psychology Today. “Specifically, the most attractive physical features fall under ‘self-care’—things like good grooming, clean hair, nice fitting and quality clothing, good posture, and healthy weight.” We are more likely to search out a partner who is healthy and strong (which mean good genes), as well as capable of taking care of future offspring, which is evidenced by how you take care of yourself. “These self-care features are attractive because they indicate how we are managing our health and well-being, which demonstrates our potential value as a partner and mate,” Dr. Nicholson says.

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Stop stressing

Just like how smiling and displaying kindness make you more attractive, showing signs of stress, like bags under your eyes or dull skin, makes you less attractive. And not just because stress tends to show up on our faces—somehow, others can sense that it’s part of a weakened immune system. In a study from Europe and South Africa, women rated men as more attractive when the men had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and a stronger immune system. “Women seem to be able to detect the men who’ve got the strongest immune response, and they seem to find them the most attractive,” study author Fhionna R. Moore, PhD, a psychologist at Abertay University in Scotland, told