The Laws of Attraction: Men—and Makeup

By Josie Brown

He’s seen you without makeup, on your worst hair day, even when crawling out of your flannel PJs just wasn’t going to happen-and he loves you, just the same. But let’s face it (literally and figuratively): when you first met, he was attracted to you because of your beauty: outer, not inner.

Which makes you wonder: What really matters to him, your “before” look, or your “after” glamour pose?

According to relationship attraction studies,* if he’d first seen you without makeup, he may just not be all that into you today.

Sorry, but that’s just the way he’s wired. The neanderthal in his tunes into those visual cues that scream “She’s fertile! Go for it!”….

So, yeah, if you want his attention, dig through your lingerie drawer for that push-up bra.

In fact, all the things the make you physically pretty-the symmetry of your facial features, a well-toned and well-endowed body, even the artistry in which you apply your make-up-are what he notices first, and what makes him desire you…

In the short-term, at least.

What makeup moves do the best in attracting guys?  Here what the surveys say:

  1. He looks skin deep.

The right foundation creates a greater contrast between the darkness of the eyes and lips, and the  surrounding skin.

2. Wax away that uni-brow.

Feminine features jump up on his built-in Richter Scale, so a five o’clock shadow or even the lightest of ‘staches is a no-go.

  3. The eyes have it.

Men seem to be attracted to women whose makeup tricks emphasize their eyes. (In other words, while showing him the window to your soul, you’re awakening his libido…)

All this is sexist propaganda, you say? Tell that to your soul sisters. But first take a gander at a YWCA study,  which showed that women, too, judge each other’s beauty based on how great they look after a makeover.

The link between attractiveness and hormone levels is lost when women wear make-up. However, both men and women judge full facial make-up to be more attractive than wearing no facial makeup.

Familiar or typical faces are also viewed as more attractive, while more unusual and distinctive faces are rated less attractive. Furthermore, seeing faces more often increases their attractiveness rating. Hence facial appearance is a cue to hormone levels in women but presumably only at the first meeting and providing the woman is not too distant, ethnically or genetically.

While facial symmetry is regarded as an attractive quality, most people don’t actually realise they are looking for symmetry. Once again, unconscious mechanisms come into play in determining face preferences. This may help explain why the reasons behind attraction are often so difficult to describe.

* (Darley & Fazio, 1980; Cooley, 1990; Feingold, 1992; Thornhill & Gangestad, 1993;Buss, 1999; Langlois et al., 2000; 2008  Little, University of Stirling).


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