Want to pick the perfect photo for your online dating profile? Whatever you do, don’t choose a close-up.
Pictures taken about 2 feet from your face make you appear less attractive, trustworthy, and competent than ones taken from a normal distance of 7 feet, says a study recently published in PLoS One.
As distance decreases, your face can appear distorted (a bigger nose and smaller ears), leading to a drop in the “hot” category, according to the researchers. But taking self-portraits is just one seemingly small fluke that can hurt your appearance–and your chances with her. Here are five other flubs you don’t know you’re making, and the solution to look your best in every situation. (And for more must-have style and grooming tips, sign up for our FREE Style Siren newsletter.)
The game killer: Excess cologne.
The research: Women find men wearing cologne more attractive than those who don’t wear any, according to a University of Liverpool study. But that’s all for naught when you overdo it. “On a physical level, too much offends your nose,” says Tracey Steinberg, dating and flirting expert.
The fix: Use less, but make your scent last longer. Apply an unscented body lotion before applying. The oils in the lotion help prolong scent, says Men’s Health Fashion and Grooming Director Brian Boye.
The game killer: A full beard.
The research: In a study of 70 women at Northumbria University, women rated 15 photos of men’s faces–altered to display different degrees of hairiness–on attractiveness and aggression. The results? Ladies viewed dudes with full beards as the most aggressive and the least attractive. Ouch.
The fix: Stick with stubble. Women in the same study rated men with a little bit of stubble as the most attractive. Craft your perfect 5 o’clock shadow by creating a line where the skin of your neck meets your chin, says Martial Vivot of Salon Pour Hommes in New York City. “Shave below it and use a trimmer to blend it.” Just remember not to make the line too strong–it should look natural. (Don’t let simple mistakes sabotage your look! Check out Your Top 10 Grooming Fails.)
The game killer: Pale skin.
The research: Studies have shown that ladies are attracted to dudes with a healthy, golden skin color–sometimes even more so than those with a masculine face (think: sharp features and symmetry).
The fix: Don’t let your skin go into winter mode just because cold weather is ahead. Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables like carrots and peppers packed with carotenoids (the pigments that give fruits their orange, yellow, or red hues) can actually alter your skin color, too. The best part: Researchers say it only takes about 3 or 4 servings a day to see some of the effects. Another simple fix: Choose the right clothes (and perfect your shave) to look darker instantly.
The game killer: Your smile.
The research: Simply wiping a smile on your face is a good start for any guy: Study after study shows that women find smiling men more attractive, confident, and trustworthy than those who remain stoic. The problem, though, becomes your teeth themselves–yellow teeth aren’t high up on anyone’s list of desirable traits in the opposite sex.
The fix: Instead of b-lining it for the teeth-whitening products at the first sign of imperfection, start with a whitening toothpaste, says Lyndon Cooper, D.D.S., Ph.D., former president of the American College of Prosthodontists. A whitening floss will help, too: Plaque that’s packed between your teeth tends to soak up colors. And cool it with all that coffee and wine–both are a white smile’s enemies.
The game killer: Your shoes.
The research: After looking at photos of shoes, students at the University of Kansas could, for the most part, accurately gauge the owners’ age, sex, income, and even–get this–how concerned they were about their relationships, a recent study in the Journal of Research in Personality found.
The fix: Show up for a date in ratty old kicks and you could kill your chances before you even say hello. The good news: Looking sharp doesn’t have to mean abandoning your personal style. Stick with a shoe that matches your personality with these 5 Shoes for Every Guy.
Additional research by Kiera Aaron and Denny Watkins