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 centered 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. Find out 15 ways to get gorgeous overnight.
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 CNN. The researchers suspect that testosterone, which is linked with a strong immune system and low cortisol, also plays a role in attracting women. Here are 37 stress management tips to find the calm in your life.
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Biologically, heterosexuals look for typically male or female traits in the opposite sex—the most glaring of which for women is men’s facial hair. “The research indicates some sex-specific characteristics are attractive—particularly those that highlight differences between males and females,” Dr. Nicholson says. “For example, different styles of facial stubble and beards can signal a man’s masculinity.” A recent study from Australia found that women considered men with heavily stubble the most attractive—but interestingly, rated men with full beards as the highest for parenting ability and healthiness. Although a beard’s connection with health seems random, it actually may be true: Beards are able to block the sun’s rays, so they might protect against skin cancer. They may also keep dust and pollen from entering the airway. And as for being a good dad, a beard might indicate that a male is sexually mature and ready to reproduce. Find out the best beard style for your face shape.