One look at the billion dollar anti-aging industry and it’s no surprise we find youth beautiful above all else. But skin isn’t the only indicator of it — the size of your eyes is, too. “Women with baby-like features such as large, widely-spaced eyes are typically judged to be most attractive,” says Viren Swami, PhD, author of The Psychology of Physical Attraction,who cites cross-cultural study data from African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and Taiwanese participants.
The quickest and easiest way to maximize your eyes is to sketch a line on the top lash line using a smoky shade, and then smudge the shadow with a brush or your fingertip to soften and blend, says Tina Turnbow, a celebrity makeup aritst.
Our disdain for blemishes isn’t just superficial — it’s a way we subconsciously assess how skin clarity reflects underlying health. “They (pimples) are signs of infection — even acne is caused by bacteria — and can signal more dire diseases like measles or skin parasites,” says Nancy Etcoff, PhD, a Harvard Medical School psychologist and the author of Survival of the Prettiest.
If you’re acne-prone, try a product containing two percent salicylic acid. If your skin doesn’t clear up, consider a trip to the derm to get a more comprehensive regimen that may include prescription retinoid use, says Doris Day, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center.
Shampoo commercials have long shown the lure of glossy, smooth strands that bounce weightlessly, though it’s something else that we tend to find sexy. “Freud believed that we fetishize hair not only because of the way it looks and feels, but because of the way it smells,” says Etcoff. “Hair stirs sight, touch, and scent sensations and memories — it’s arousing and primal in its appeal.”
While sudsing up daily will keep hair smelling clean, such frequent washings can strip strands of moisture. To stay fresh on days you don’t shampoo, take a cue from Franco Wright, founder of LA’s Scent Bar. “A great trick is to spritz a brush with your favorite fragrance and then comb through your hair to distribute the scent,” he says.
While lashes are supposed to keep debris out of your eyes, batting them is also one of the most popular ways to flirt. Since the tip swoops in an arch and human sight is drawn to motion, fluttering the fringe can capture eye contact. “Women around the world, in modern and ancient cultures, have taken advantage of eyelashes by making them longer and more visible,” says David Givens, PhD, an anthropologist and the author of Love Signals.
The best way to enhance your lashes is by using a curler. “A curler opens your eyes to look larger and more awake, makes lashes look longer, and helps you look better even if you’re not wearing any makeup at all,” says Andrew Sotomayor, a celebrity makeup artist.
A Feminine Flush
There’s a reason why Marilyn Monroe always wore red on her lips. Estrogen levels rise when women are in the most fertile span of the monthly cycle known as ovulation, increasing blood flow under the skin’s surface. This surge flushes cheeks and lips a pink or red tone that behavioral studies show evokes attraction response in men.
Turnbow suggests using a soft stain, like Burt’s Bee’s Lip Shimmer in Cherry, since it’ll give you a natural-looking flush. “Apply the color to lips, and then gently blur the lipline with your finger tip so it looks feminine and natural,” she explains. Go back and tap extra color on the center of your lips for an extra juicy pout.
Hair naturally thins as we grow older, though strands are directly influenced by health, diet, and hormones at any age. Each strand has its own blood flow, so thick and flowing locks instantly communicate a sense of wellness. And since hair grows fastest and thickest for women between the ages of 16 and 24, it’s yet another indicator of youth, says Etcoff.
“To add thickness to hair, work at the root on the crown,” says celebrity stylist Oribe. Polymer-containing aerosols like Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray absorb oils that kill volume, and add body-building structure to each strand. Spray volumizer in sections at the root, and massage it in with your fingers.
Symmetry has been considered a mark of facial beauty since the ancient Greeks, and experts say it’s because these features form during our crucial developmental years. “Departures from perfect symmetry are assumed to be the result of factors such as stress, nutrition, disease, and infections,” explains Swami.
One feature that enhances the perception of facial symmetry is the eyebrow. “Brush brows up and use a powder one shade lighter than your brow color for the most natural look,” advises brow guru Anastasia Soare. If you’re a blonde, go one shade darker than your hair.