Keeping Your Appearance Natural Is More Attractive, New Study Finds, Plus 5 Other Things Science Says Is Sexy

If you're looking to attract a partner, you might want to throw out your bold makeup and cancel your next hair appointment. Yeah, that may sound like the most insane advice ever, but according to a new study about what people find sexy, being yourself and going au naturel were actually key to upping your sex appeal.

The study was conducted by the Queen's University in Ontario, and researched the effect of a person's walking style by showing participants short films of people walking and asking how attractive each seemed. The catch is that participants couldn't actually see what the people walking really looked like — only an outline of their shape and their movements. What they found is pretty surprising: When combined with a beautiful body, a sexy walk was actually less appealing than expected. The underlying principle is the age-old idea of "don't try too hard to be sexy" — a pretty woman who purposely tries to adopt a sexier walk may unwittingly make herself seem less attractive in the process.

According to the scientists, this goes back to the caveman days: Our brains may have evolved to alert us to mismatched looks and movements, so we could more easily pick injured or weak prey from a herd. Translated into modern times, if you walk awkwardly, it might be an indication of illness or unhealthiness, making you a less attractive mate. What's more is that the researchers noted that our visual system is a "sensitive lie detector" that perceives even the smallest inconsistencies and responds negatively to them, meaning that other subtle changes to your looks may be off-putting to potential partners.

‘If you have blonde hair and dark eyebrows and want it to look natural and want to appear prettier, it might not work because it might signal to someone else that there is something odd about you. If in doubt, just be yourself.’

Essentially, sexiness relies on consistency of the appearance as a whole, rather than on the individual attractiveness of certain parts. Changes to your appearance actually confuse the brain of people looking at you, so maybe a no-frills beauty routine really is best, after all. (But hey, do whatever makes you feel most confident and happy, obvi.)

If you prefer to keep a little pep in your step and don't feel like changing your walking style, here are five other things that science says are sexy, just in case you want to increase your chances of finding a hot new lover.

1. Long-Distance Running

Well, I can say without a doubt that this is not a hobby I will be adopting in order to increase my sex appeal. A 2015 study found a link between long-distance running and higher reproductive potential, which probably stems from hunter-gatherer days when guys who could run the farthest, the fastest were seen as better mates. While the data was most significant when examining men's reproductive potential, it also coincides with the somewhat obvious idea that being in better physical shape makes you sexier. Our brains are biologically hardwired to want healthy mates who would thereby produce healthy offspring, so whether you're a man or woman, being a runner can make you more attractive. Looks like I should head to the gym tonight (haha JK, as if).

2. Creativity

It's official: Artists are sexy. A 2014 study examined the attractiveness of different kinds of creativity, and found that both men and women were most attracted to "ornamental/aesthetic creativity" — so if you're a musician, poet, or photographer, chances are that people will find you sexy because of your openness to new experiences.

3. High Heels

Say it with me: Ugh. As if we needed another reason to feel pressured into wobbling around on six-inch stilettos. But the science doesn't lie: A French study conducted in 2014 found that men were more likely to pay attention to women in heels. If a high-heel-wearing woman drops something in the street, she's 50 percent more likely to have a man help her retrieve it than her flats-wearing counterpart. So if you have a large Louboutin collection, you might be in luck when it comes to finding a man.

4. A Sense Of Humor

I don't know anyone who doesn't rank a good sense of humor as one of their top three desired qualities in a mate. A Zoosk study found a lot of evidence to back this up: 43 percent of Americans preferred partners with a goofy sense of humor, and 87 percent of men said "humorous flirtation" gets them in the mood for sex. Even more reassuring to those of us blessed with a witty sensibility, 63 percent of those surveyed said that, apart from chemistry, a sense of humor was the most important quality in a successful relationship.

5. Traveling

Apparently people on Tinder upload all those pictures of them frolicking in Ibiza for a reason: A 2012 study of 882 Australian singles found that over half of people were more attracted to people who listed traveling as an interest on their dating profile. An interest in jet-setting is linked to a sense of adventure and curiosity about the world, qualities many people look for in a potential mate. So if you've studied abroad in Paris or gone hiking through the Amazon, people might perceive you as sexier than those of us who can only afford to travel from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back again. *Sighs*

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