Beauty is truly only skin deep, and at the end of the day, it's pretty meaningless if we don't foster the more lasting parts of our identity, like kindness and intelligence. However, sometimes we just want to feel like we appear our best, and for those occasions, there are scientifically verified ways to look more attractive.
You can still believe that way too much emphasis is placed on physical attributes in today’s culture, and also think that the media creates unrealistic standards of beauty (how is anyone supposed to hold down a full-time job and look like a Photoshopped celebrity who has a personal chef and trainer?), and also feel more confident when you’re happy about the way you look. It's an inescapable part of being human, no matter how much you might be aware of this country’s perverse fascination with looking "perfect."
That being said, there are definitely super simple ways you can look more aesthetically pleasing based on various scientific studies — which in turn can give you that little added boost of confidence to help take on an important moment or event. At the end of the day, so much about beauty products and pieces of clothing is about how they make you feel, and not what they’re actually doing to you on the outside.
Looking for research-backed ways to be pretty? From tweaking your hair care routine to staying on top of your tooth brushing (and flossing) habit, here are eight scientifically-proved ways to look more attractive.
1. Keep Your Teeth White
According to a study from the University of Leeds, clean white teeth are a quick indicator of good health and thus instantly make you more attractive to others. So grab those whitening strips (or whatever method works best for you and your life) and say hello to an awesome, prettier smile.
2. Go For A Voluminous Hair Style
One study found that thicker hair is associated with health and vitality, which instantly makes you look better. If your hair has been thinning with age or is just on the thinner side in general, you can try using a dry shampoo on the roots to absorb heavy oils and create an instant illusion of fullness.
3. Take Care Of Your Skin
A study published by the National Institute of Health showed that smooth skin is a major factor in overall attractiveness since, much like white teeth, it instantly indicates good health. So if you want that added boost of confidence, start giving your skin a little TLC. Follow a dermatologist-backed skin care routine that includes a good face wash, an exfoliator, and a moisturizer to keep your complexion glowing. Also, never forget the sunscreen — seriously.
4. Have Red Lipstick Handy
One easy tactic for how to be pretty? Research found that waitresses who wore red lipstick received more tips than those who did not. Plus, a University of Manchester study found that your lips are considered to be one of your most attractive and arousing facial features. It also found that drawing attention to them with red lipstick means they will be stared at for an average of seven seconds longer. So if you're looking to feel your sexiest, go with the red!
5. Put On That Red Dress
If you like red lipstick, you should also consider slipping into that red dress in your closet. In a study out of the University of Rochester, participants rated people as more attractive when they're in red over other colors — even when shown pictures of the same person.
6. Mimic The Person You’re Talking To
That's right — a study featured in the Social Psychology Bulletin found that one way to be attractive is to simply subtly mimick the person you’re talking to. So the next time you're in conversation with someone you're really into, be sure to pay attention to their body language and respond with a similar gesture or posture. Subtle mimicry indicates attraction.
7. Accentuate Your Symmetry
You've likely heard that facial symmetry is strongly associated with attractiveness, and a study out of Stanford confirms this. However, the fact of the matter is most people aren't perfectly symmetrical. Your eyes might be two slightly different sizes, your mouth may be a little lopsided, your nose could be a little uneven. It's natural and normal, and is generally not something to stress about at all. However, if you want that extra boost of confidence, the good thing is that makeup is kind of a miracle when it comes to creating the illusion of symmetry. You can soften a hooded eye, shadow the nose, or slightly reshape a lip — it's all about knowing how.
8. Be Confident
The most important answer to the question “how to look pretty” is to have confidence. Confidence can instantly make you a more magnetic person. According to Harvard psychologist Craig Malkin, it's because confident people are more likely to engage in behavior that inspires trust in other people, like solid eye contact and open body language, as well as are more likely to be open and say what they mean. So even if you're naturally on the shyer side, try to fake it 'til you make it on those nights when you want to feel super cute.
You’re your own worst critic when it comes to the way you look — that’s a given. But these quick, scientifically-proven ways to look more attractive can be just the thing to melt away insecurities. So throw on that red dress, pump up your hair, and remember that you look awesome.
Bale, C. (2013). Self-Perceived Attractiveness, Romantic Desirability and Self-Esteem: A Mating Sociometer Perspective. Evolutionary Psychology. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/147470491301100107
Fink, B. (2016). Age, Health and Attractiveness Perception of Virtual (Rendered) Human Hair. Frontiers in Psychology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5177627/
Gueguen, N. (2012). Lipstick and tipping behavior: When red lipstick enhance waitresses tips. International Journal of Hospitality Management. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278431912000497
Hendrie, C. (2012). Evidence to Suggest That Teeth Act as Human Ornament Displays Signalling Mate Quality. PLOS One. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3409146/
Karremans, J. (2008). Mimicking attractive opposite-sex others: the role of romantic relationship status. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18453390/
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