How To Be More Attractive In 6 Unusual Steps (really)

To be happy should never be our end goal. Striving to be happier, however, is healthier and more attainable. Attractiveness is much the same.

It is best viewed as a continuum, not an either/or. The desire to be more attractive, or at least fend off unattractiveness, is a normal and healthy component of high self-esteem.

“Nature to be commanded must be obeyed.” — Francis Bacon

Now before we begin I want to make a few disclaimers: I’m not going to give you fashion advice, tell you what face wash to use or how to apply invisible concealer. There’s plenty of advice on those topics already on the internet.

I’m also not going to tell you to act confident, speak clearly and hold eye contact. I’m not saying your behavior doesn’t massively affect your attractiveness, it does, but it’s already been covered elsewhere.

What I’m going to tell you are six simple, albeit unusual, scientific ways you can become significantly more physically attractive. They’re not unhealthy, and everyone can use them.

1. Get A Carotenoid Tan

If you water a flower with colored water, over time the leaves of the plant will change color.

Food colouring plant

Human beings aren’t so different from plants.

Carotenoids are compounds found in brightly colored foods like carrots and sweet potato. If you eat high-carotenoid foods on a regular basis, they will change the coloring of your skin and give you a natural tan-like glow.

I know it sounds a bit far-fetched but keep reading, you’ll soon be convinced.

A new and innovative study recently published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology sheds new light on the importance of skin color as a determiner of facial attractiveness.

In the first part of the experiment, they made two groups, each consisting of 60 participants and had them rate the attractiveness of 27 tanned faced composites against a pale-faced version of the same person. In the second part of the experiment, one group had a melanin tan (sun exposure), the other group had a carotenoid tan (bright vegetables).

In the first group, 78.5% of the attendants rated the sun-tanned face more attractive than the pale face.

In the second group, 86% voted the carotenoid tan face more attractive than the pale face. 1)Carmen E. Lefevre, David I. Perrett. Fruit over sunbed: Carotenoid skin coloration is found more attractive than melanin colorationThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2014.944194

So a tan from the sun or high-carotenoid food is more attractive than being pale.

At this point, you probably think I’m going to recommend getting a tan through carotenoid food sources because vegetables tend to prevent cancer, and excessive sun exposure tends to cause cancer. That’s a good reason, but no…

In the final test, they made attendants rate the attractiveness of 24 sun tanned composites against the carotenoid versions. A whopping 75.9% preferred the carotenoid tan over the sun tan. This suggests that we may have evolved an unconscious ability to extrapolate the health of an individual by the amount of colorful vegetables in their diet.

how to be more attractive with a carotenoid tan

The participants in the study were left to their own devices when it came to their carotenoid intake. This is good news — the fact that they didn’t have an experimenter over their shoulder at every meal probably means that they maintained a relativity normal diet.

I now think of high carotenoid foods now like supplements, not only do they have incredible health benefits, but they give you a better tan than the sun.

Here’s a list of high carotenoid foods, as a rule, look for a bright/strong pigment:

  • Sweet Potato
  • Carrots
  • Dark Leafy Greens
  • Dried Apricots
  • Sweet Red Peppers
  • Cantaloupe Melon
  • Butternut Squash

Try and get some in every day. Carrots with hummus is my favorite snack at the moment. Smoothies are also fast and simple.

2. Reach 12% Body Fat

For years, people believed the most important characteristic that makes a man attractive is his masculine features — a strong jaw, brow and pair of biceps. Recently, however, this has been flipped on its head. It turns out leanness is a far greater predictor of physical attractiveness in men than masculine features.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences, they asked 29 young fertile women to rate 69 young men, of all body sizes, on their attractiveness, masculinity and body fat. Then they injected the men with a Hepatitis B vaccine to see how their immune systems responded as well as measuring their circulating testosterone levels.   

To the researchers surprise, masculine features didn’t correlate with attractiveness, a strong immune system or high testosterone — low body fat did. According to the study 12% body fat was perceived as the most attractive. As body fat levels increased, immune system and testosterone levels went down.

how to become more attractive by reaching a low body fat

Composite image from study. Who do you prefer?

Although the test wasn’t done on women, the body fat in women that would correspond to 12% in men would be somewhere in the region of 20-25%. It’s the lower end of the healthy range.

 If you’re not sure how to get lean, the best book on this topic — bar none — is The Muscle and Strength NUTRITION Pyramid by Eric Helms.

3. Get Your Beauty Sleep

In a study led by John Axelsson from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, they investigated the relationship between sleep and attractiveness. They took 23 non-smokers, had them groomed and neutrally pose for two different sets of photographs — one in which they were sleep deprived, one in which they were not.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Comparison from study: sleep deprived on right

65 observers who did not know the sleep status of the people photographed were then asked to rate their attractiveness, health, and tiredness. The observers rated the sleep deprived people as less attractive, less healthy and tireder.2)John Axelsson, Tina Sundelin, Michael Ingre, Eus J W Van Someren, Andreas Olsson, Mats Lekander. Beauty sleep: experimental study on the perceived health and attractiveness of sleep deprived people. BMJ, 341 DOI:10.1136/bmj.c6614

Further studies corroborating these findings have been done on the link between red eyes, one of the symptoms of sleep deprivation, and unattractiveness.3)Robert R. Provine, Marcello O. Cabrera, Nicole W. Brocato, Kurt A. Krosnowski. When the Whites of the Eyes are Red: A Uniquely Human Cue. Ethology, 2011; 117 (5): 395 DOI: 10.1111/j.14390310.2011.01888.x

Want to know how to be more attractive and happy? Get 8 hours a night.

4. Meditate

There is an overwhelming link between perceived attractiveness and health. Usually, if you look healthy (emotionally as well as physically) by default you will also look attractive.

I’ve already written extensively about the health benefits of meditation explaining how it improves your mood, lowers damaging stress hormones, clears the skin and prevents mental illness.

I couldn’t leave meditation off this list.

5. Wear Red

The color red is linked to status, sex and danger in numerous contexts. In Ancient Rome the powerful ones were those who “wore red“; in nature red snakes are often the most venomous; in baboon cultures red is associated with alpha male characteristics; in modern culture celebrities role out on red carpets.

In several experiments at the University of Rochester, women were asked to mark photographs by their willingness to date, kiss and engage in other sexual activity with the men pictured. The experimenters cleverly manipulated the color of the attire of those pictured to see if red, or any other color would yield different results.

wear red to be more attractive

Same man with digitally altered T-shirt color

It did. In the images where the men wore red, women were much more willing to engage in sexual activity with the men. In other studies, men are also shown to be more attracted to women in red too. Think Jessica Rabbit.

6. Smell Nice

Everyone knows hygiene is important. Bad smells are inherently repulsive. Hell, skunks use bad odor as a survival mechanism. What few people know, however, is that good smells have the power to change the attractiveness of your face.

Research from the Monell Chemical Senses Center showed that when participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of a photograph of a woman, the scent in the room altered the outcome.

When rose oil (pleasant) was released into the room at the same time as the photographs appeared the observers found those pictured significantly more attractive than without. Fish oil (unpleasant), likewise, negatively affected the attractiveness rating of those pictured. 4)Janina Seubert, Kristen M. Gregory, Jessica Chamberland, Jean-Marc Dessirier, Johan N. Lundström. Odor Valence Linearly Modulates Attractiveness, but Not Age Assessment, of Invariant Facial Features in a Memory-Based Rating Task. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (5): e98347 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0098347

How To Be More Attractive in 6 Steps

  1. Eat lots of brightly colored vegetables.
  2. Combine step 1 with exercise to get leaner.
  3. Never compromise on your sleep.
  4. Practice mindfulness meditation every day.
  5. Add red clothes to your wardrobe.
  6. Shower frequently and use perfume/cologne.

References   [ + ]

1. Carmen E. Lefevre, David I. Perrett. Fruit over sunbed: Carotenoid skin coloration is found more attractive than melanin colorationThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2014.944194
2. John Axelsson, Tina Sundelin, Michael Ingre, Eus J W Van Someren, Andreas Olsson, Mats Lekander. Beauty sleep: experimental study on the perceived health and attractiveness of sleep deprived people. BMJ, 341 DOI:10.1136/bmj.c6614
3. Robert R. Provine, Marcello O. Cabrera, Nicole W. Brocato, Kurt A. Krosnowski. When the Whites of the Eyes are Red: A Uniquely Human Cue. Ethology, 2011; 117 (5): 395 DOI: 10.1111/j.14390310.2011.01888.x
4. Janina Seubert, Kristen M. Gregory, Jessica Chamberland, Jean-Marc Dessirier, Johan N. Lundström. Odor Valence Linearly Modulates Attractiveness, but Not Age Assessment, of Invariant Facial Features in a Memory-Based Rating Task. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (5): e98347 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0098347

Meet the Creator

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the author of ComfortPit and the co-creator of HighExistence and 30 Challenges to Enlightenment, the ultimate self-improvement obstacle course. He researches the practical ways art, science, psychology, technology, history, and philosophy can help us live more skillfully.

17 comments… add one
  • Ben Sep 25, 2014, 8:28 pm

    Love your articles. Keep ’em coming!

  • Jose Nov 3, 2014, 8:46 pm

    C-citations? This is truly a holy place.

  • Joe Nov 4, 2014, 6:26 pm

    So how do you smell good?

    • Jon Brooks Nov 4, 2014, 8:16 pm

      I don’t know if you’re trolling or genuine but if you check out the purple box at the bottom of the post you’ll see a list of resources I recommend for health, grooming, confidence etc.

  • Steele Nov 6, 2014, 5:04 am

    Hey Jon, great website! Just wanted to point out that the purple box for this article links to a resource sheet for perfectionism. Overall, I’m very impressed with your content though – looking forward to being a subscriber!

    • Jon Brooks Nov 6, 2014, 5:24 am

      Damn! Sorry about that. Thanks for letting me know. It’s fixed now and I’ve just emailed you the resource.

      Thanks for the kind words about the posts and thanks for subscribing!

  • Lexi Jan 12, 2015, 7:15 pm

    Hey nice research! I always subconsciously preferred all this stuff but find it hard when I’m in a committed relationship. I always tell my boyfriend to get more sleep (he attends MIT so not much luck there) and hate when he gets onions on his subway. I’ve told him a couple times that I don’t like his tired eyes and to take a mint. He’s not into cologne but I’ve given him a couple as presents and I’m not sure how often he uses them. How can I go about telling him that it might affect his appeal? I’m personally obsessed with hygiene. Also I don’t particularly like that his vegetarian diet consists of mostly beans instead of fruits, he doesn’t like them that much. Idk if that affects his smell. I don’t want to be rude to him but these things are a bit of a turn off.

    • Jon Brooks Jan 18, 2015, 3:36 pm

      Hey, thanks for checking out the post. Seems like you’re in a bit of a predicament. Sounds to me he’s just gotten ‘too comfortable’ and perhaps a little lazy assuming you’ll always be attracted to him regardless of his bad habits. Guys are not thinking on the same wave length as women when it comes to attraction so it might help to try and communicate with him in his language.

      From what I know about evolutionary psychology, for men attraction is binary – it’s on or off like a light switch. For women, more like a volume knob that can be turned up or down depending on the behaviours of the male. Your language, “a bit off a turn off”, shows this thinking in action. A man will understand your concerns more if you tell him he looks ‘ugly’ when he lacks sleep, or he becomes sexually unattractive when he eats onions. Try to explain in more binary terms. Hot or ugly, sexy or disgusting, etc. Hope this helps!

  • nelson Feb 16, 2016, 3:03 pm

    i’ve been eating carrot daily for a month.my face is now looking good .thanks .keep posting things like this

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