1. Speak confidently.
The same study found that while men had trouble vocalizing sex appeal, they were successful at sounding more confident—and this might be enough to get the girl: Primitively, a woman was attracted to someone who would provide care and resources to ensure her and her offspring’s survival, says study coauthor Susan Hughes, Ph.D., of Albright College. Traits like confidence and intelligence are still found to be highly attractive to women because of this basic need. So how do you sound more sure of yourself? Increase your pitch and speak louder compared to your normal voice, Hughes advises.
2. Wear red.
Women find guys to be more attractive when they’re wearing a red shirt, or standing against a red backdrop, says a 2010 University of Rochester study. Why? Red is the universal signal for sexual excitement. Researchers point out the color is commonly associated with passion and eroticism: The Red Light District, red lipstick, red wine, etc.
3. Keep the stubble.
Facial hair does more than make you look older: A 2012 Australian study found that women are more attracted to men with heavy stubble than clean-shaven guys or those with a 5 o’clock shadow. Why? Men with thicker face forests were rated as more masculine and may be perceived as good dads—better able to protect and invest in their offspring, researchers speculate.
4. Smile in bars—but not in photos.
Channel Daniel Craig for your OkCupid profile: Women find men less attractive when they’re smiling in pictures than when they’re brooding, according to a 2011 Canadian study. Without the environmental and body language cues you have in person, smiling men were judged to be more feminine and less dominant, the study reports. When talking to a girl in a bar, though, flash those pearly whites—just take an extra second to form the smile: British and German researchers found a slow onset smile is judged to be more trustworthy, authentic, and flirtatious than smiles that are quick to form. Tilting your head toward her can also boost this effect, according to the same study.
5. Keep your scent au natural.
While the jury’s still out on whether our natural pheromones can really attract the opposite sex, you’re probably still better off skipping the stinky cologne. Women pay much more attention to odors than men do, says Charles Wysocki, Ph.D., adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania and member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center. It’s largely biological: Every person has an odor print that conveys their genetics, and since women have fewer opportunities to reproduce than men, evolutionarily they would need to be keener toward the genetics they’re choosing to mate with, Wysocki explains.
So not only does your natural scent attract the ladies, but the main reasons to wear cologne may be null: Swiss researchers had 100 people sniff the same six smells and not one of the scents was pleasant to everybody, which means your favorite spray may actually turn her off. And as for masking your nervous stench, a 2012 study by Wysocki’s team found that women could still smell a guy’s stress sweat, no matter what chemicals he tried to cover it with. “Marketing campaigns have done a good job convincing people they need to cover up smells, when your natural scent is just as—if not more—pleasing,” he adds.