Whether you’re looking for a serious, long-term relationship or just someone to spend the night with, can we all agree that putting yourself out there is exhausting?
There’s some relief to be found in being able to skip shaving, dressing up, and putting on sunscreen since work from home became a reality for most of us. But that all goes away when you’re suddenly hit by the urge to actually go outside and see someone in the real world. All of a sudden, that lockdown fling with some rando you found off Tinder or Discord is a real person you have to actually see in the flesh.
You are suddenly hit with the startling realization that maybe you’ve let yourself go a little these past few months. It’s time to get to work on a science-backed plot to boost your sex appeal.
Sex Appeal Booster No. 1: Opt for Extra Garlic
Garlic smells and the smell sticks. If you cook, you know what I mean. It can take hours for the smell to fade completely from your fingers. If everyone liked the smell, it wouldn’t be a problem. But garlic is a very divisive scent. Personally, I love the stuff — there’s nothing that smells better than toasted garlic. For others, though? Garlic is as stinky as it gets.
No matter what side of the garlic scent debate you’re on, consider this: eating garlic can boost your sex appeal.
I know. I’m surprised, too. Typical date prep advice always tells us to smell great when we go out. But according to a study published in Appetite, a scientific journal on everything food-related, eating garlic can actually make your body odor more attractive to other people.
So, what’s the idea behind it? Apparently, eating garlic made men’s body odor smell more pleasant, attractive, and masculine to the 82 women who participated in the study. The researchers hypothesized that the women were picking up on the scent because of the associated positive health effects of garlic, which include antioxidant properties and increased anti-microbial activity, which made the men smell like viable mates.
Sex Appeal Booster No. 2: Wear Red on the First Date
Red is one of the most eye-catching colors on the color spectrum and it’s the one we often associate with intense emotion. When we think of red, we think of fire, passion, anger, and love.
In color psychology, red is one of the colors used by fast-food chains to stimulate the brain into feeling hunger. But our unconscious associations with the color red don’t stop there. Sure, maybe wearing red helps us capture someone’s attention because it makes them think of us as irresistibly delectable or as a possibly passionate lover. But if you’re a guy, the benefits of red have one extra boost to give you: Iit makes women think you’re a high-status man.
A study ran seven experiments that showed women saw men as more attractive and sexually desirable if they wore red clothes or were in front of a red background. While it works to alter women’s perception of men, it doesn’t change the way men perceive other men. But be aware — it doesn’t make a woman think you’re more likable.
Sex Appeal Booster No. 3: Get a Canine Wingman
Having trouble getting matches on your Tinder profile? Here’s one thing you can do right now that can instantly boost your sex appeal to all the ladyfolk: take a picture with a dog. Seriously, go. It doesn’t have to be your dog. Just take a photo with your niece’s dog and boom — instant right swipes.
Evolutionary science doesn’t just prove that dogs are man’s best friend. They’re also your best wingman. A study published in the journal Anthrozoos called The Roles of Pet Dogs and Cats in Human Courtship and Dating showed that women were likelier to judge their date based on their relationship with a beloved pet more than men do.
Why? Because it made women see them as responsible and reliable — key traits that women have evolved to look for in men because it screams “good parent” material. Besides, even if she isn’t the settling type, it’s likelier that she’ll like dogs than hate them. That’s a free conversation starter for you.
Sex Appeal Booster No. 4: Start Doing Volunteer Work
The Spice Girls said it best, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.”
There’s a certain appeal to someone who’s nice and kind. They’re easier to get along with and pleasant to talk to which makes spending time with them an enjoyable experience that makes it less likely for you to nope out of a second date.
Plus, kindness is up there with physical attractiveness on the list of things that people, especially heterosexual women, look for when selecting a potential partner. The more people intend to date for a long-term relationship, the more important being kind becomes to them.
You’ve read that right. Nice guys don’t finish last. They have massive evolutionary sex appeal. Heterosexual men seem to instinctively know this too. Some findings have shown that heterosexual men will exhibit generous behavior, like volunteering to give their seat up for a senior citizen, when they know they’re being watched by a woman. While you could probably say everyone just wants to make themselves look good, know that heterosexual guys actually aren’t as generous when they’re being viewed by another man.
Sex Appeal Booster No. 5: Change Your Vocal Pitch
If voice actors and streamers have taught us anything, it’s that people can be hella sexy to us even if all we have is the sound of their voice. Corpse Husband? Alluring. Evelynn from League of Legends? Absolutely breathtaking.
A study on how vocal pitch affects people’s perception of whether you’re hot found that lower voices are more attractive in general. Like the study on how pets affect attractiveness, the results were more significant for women’s perception of men’s attractiveness. Lower voices were seen as more mature across the board.
Though the study anticipated that women would like men with lower vocal pitches, they were surprised to find that men also found women with lower voices attractive rather than the more stereotypically feminine higher pitch voices they used in the study. Honestly, that just makes me think the researchers never heard of Mara Junot.
Sex Appeal Booster No. 6: Improve Your Appearance
Okay, maybe it is a no-brainer that looking good will boost your sex appeal. But don’t lose hope. Just because physical attractiveness is a scientifically proven way to be seen as sexier doesn’t mean you have to look like a supermodel. In fact, many of the traits that people rate heavily for physical attractiveness are things that you have the ability to control.
A study published in Current Psychology took 37 stable and changeable physical features and investigated which ones had the greatest impact on perceptions of physical attractiveness. They divided the traits into five categories: masculinity, femininity, self-care, pleasantness, and ethnicity.
Out of all these categories, it was the first three that had the biggest effect on whether you’d be seen as attractive. Masculinity and femininity can both be achieved by working out to get a more masculine or feminine figure. Even just growing their hair out made women more attractive.
Another big category is self-care which calls for properly fitting clothes, good posture, and maybe a skincare routine. See? Even science says no one wants to date a slob. Let’s make an effort to shower every day.
Sex Appeal Booster No. 7: Show Up With Friends
Got a lot of single friends? Instead of hiding the ones who are better looking, bring all your buddies with you the next time you go on the prowl.
A study entitled Hierarchical Encoding Makes Individuals in a Group Seem More Attractive pretty much boils down to this: your friends make you look hot. It’s called the “cheerleader effect” and what it does is average all of your faces out to make you all seem more attractive.
If you’ve tried memorization techniques like chunking before, you might have noticed that we don’t tend to process information in pieces. We take the world in as cohesive wholes. That’s why you’re more likely to remember the first and last parts of a grocery list. It’s also what makes groups of people hotter than individual people on their own.
Three cognitive phenomena combine to produce the “cheerleader effect.” The first one is that our brains compute the assortment of faces in a group as a whole like a list or a chunk of info. People who look similar to each other also tend to become friends which allows for the second phenomenon of ensemble average to occur. While it doesn’t feel like being average makes you appealing, the third phenomenon is that average faces are more attractive.
Sex Appeal Booster No. 8: Have a Good Sense of Humor
It’s a common trope in movies and TV shows. A smoking hot girl dates an average-looking guy, at least by Hollywood standards, because according to her, he makes her laugh. The show’s script might even let him quip back that he likes her because she laughs at his jokes.
But is there any truth to it?
Apparently, there is and it’s been proven in live settings, not just on survey sheets. A study by French researcher Nicolas Guéguen asked 60 women between the ages of 20 and 26 years old to participate in a totally scientific inquiry into real pick-up art. The findings? Science says negging is for noobs. What you need to do is crack a joke.
Guéguen got several men to approach the women with one goal in mind: getting her phone number. The men that didn’t exhibit a great sense of humor had abysmal success compared to the men who did. A simple joke gave the other group of men three times the chances of winning.
It works for women, too, albeit as receivers of a joke. Women are likelier to go out with a funny guy while funny guys are likelier to go out with women who laugh at their jokes.
The effectiveness of humor in boosting sex appeal might be because of the fact that it makes you appear more sociable. Speaking of sociable, you don’t even have to laugh if you’re particularly self-conscious about it. Just smiling can make you look more attractive.
The best part? Sporting a winning smile doesn’t just improve the physical attractiveness you already have. A study on the relationship between expression and attractiveness found that a happy facial expression can even compensate for relative unattractiveness. That’s science talk for, “If you smile, you become less ugly.”
Want to Be More Than Just Sexually Appealing?
The art of boosting your sex appeal doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. You may have noticed that most of the research focuses on heterosexual and cisgendered pairings and tends to measure the attractiveness of heterosexual men to heterosexual women. It’s useful advice if you’re straight, cis-gendered, and male, but likely has a ton of limitations if you don’t fit into those categories.
Thankfully, sex appeal isn’t all there is to attraction. Just thinking that other people are attracted to us can make them seem more attractive in our eyes. It’s called reciprocal attraction and it plays on people’s instinctive and psychological need to be liked.
So if you want someone to like you back, reciprocal attraction might be your best bet.