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11 science-backed ways to look and feel more attractive

Kristin Salaky

Most people will admit that they don't feel 100% at all times. Even the most beautiful and successful people have off days, but if you're feeling bad about yourself more than you feel good, you might need a shift in perspective.

Despite common thinking, feeling more attractive and desirable may have little to do with your outward appearance.

We consulted scientific studies and spoke to relationship and dating experts to find simple lifestyle changes that you can make to appear more attractive both to yourself and others.

These tips can help you begin to see yourself in a more positive light.

Get your sweat on.

You might dread exercise but it can play a big factor in helping yourself feel more attractive.

We're not just talking about exercise's effect on your body physically — exercise is a great way to take some time to get out your aggression, have some time for yourself, and release endorphins, a chemical that can improve your mood. A 2015 study by the University of Turku found that people who exercised reported an increase in confidence.

'Exercise is a great way to feel more attractive,' April Masini, a relationship and etiquette expert, told INSIDER. 'Not only are you giving yourself a gift of fitness, but you’re releasing endorphins and balancing work, play and self-care.'

Give some compliments.

Getting some love from others might seem like the easiest way to boost your self image, but actually you might want to practice giving some love first.

Talking up good traits about others will help you seem more appealing in their eyes and make you realise the good things about yourself, too. Researchers at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China suggested in a 2016 study that men who used metaphors to compliment women were found to be more attractive.

'Learning how to properly compliment may just be the key to a second date,' matchmaker Denise Levy told INSIDER. 'Making other people feel good about themselves increases your attractiveness. People put effort into getting ready for a date so take the time to compliment the other person and mean it!'

Put a smile on.

It's no secret that smiling makes you seem warm and inviting to other people, which can help how they see you. But it turns out you may even get the same benefits by looking in a mirror and smiling at yourself.

'As social creatures, we are programmed to notice the body language of others and scan for cues of safety and welcome,' relationship therapist, educator, and author Shadeen Francis told INSIDER. 'Smiling is a universal signal for warmth, approachability, and attractiveness.'

'But this also works for yourself; if you smile at yourself in the mirror, you receive very similar neural cues as you would if a familiar friend smiled at you,' she said.

Researchers at the University of Cardiff in Wales in 2009 studied how facial expressions can affect a person's mood and found evidence that suggests people who smile more can actually feel happier.

Give yourself a pep talk.

It's always nice when someone close to you notices or points out a good quality, but you don't have to wait around for that extra boost.

It may seem silly, but repeating positive affirmations to yourself in the mirror or saying things that you like about yourself will help you validate those traits and value them in yourself.

'Attention is an exercise in intentional focus,' Francis said. 'Whatever you give attention to will expand in your field of consciousness. Taking time to actively notice positive qualities about yourself, whether external characteristics or internal skills and qualities, helps them become more salient to you. When you spend time acknowledging these traits, you can experience them more fully.'

A 2014 study from the University of Illinois published in the 'European Journal of Social Psychology' suggested that people who talked to themselves had higher job success and confidence. Experiments showed that when people talked to themselves -- in the same way that they would speak to a friend -- it hyped them up. The study also showed that people injected more energy into saying the word 'you' when referring to themselves.

Don't self-sabotage.

A study from the National Institutes of Health found that people who dwelled on negative aspects about themselves actually had a higher risk of self-doubt and may have a lower-rate of self-satisfaction.

If you find yourself making negative statements about yourself, you need to pay close attention to why. These types of statements can make you feel worse about yourself and take a toll on your self-image.

Psychologist Jodi De Luca

recommends that people identify what is causing them to make these statements and eliminate the cause if they can.

'In particular, pay special attention to what triggers self-sabotaging statements,' she told INSIDER. 'Is it a particular environment? Person? Situation? Once you identify the triggers of negative self-talk, you have a better chance of catching yourself, turning negative self-statements into positive ones, and even preventing them.'

Assess your relationships with others.

The weight of a toxic person in your life may be preventing you from feeling your best.

A 2015 study in 'The Journal of Ethics and Education' surveyed people who had a relationship in their life that exhibited traits of 'estrangement, change, mistaken friendship, and false friendship.' The study found that they often didn't realize that others were dragging them down and saw toxic people through 'rose-colored glasses,' which can take a toll on their mental health.

If there are people who are constantly putting you down, being rude to you, or are just bad influences on your self-esteem, do your best to cut those people out of your life or spend less time with them.

More importantly, prioritize the people who spend their time supporting you and building you up. This can instantly boost your confidence, De Luca said.

Have a sense of humour.

Laughing and joking can make you more at ease, so if you try and laugh off a small thing that would normally get under your skin, you can take some pressure off of yourself, which can make you see yourself in a positive light.

'This is so important -- some people treat every aspect of their life so seriously and this shows in their face and in their personality,' Alex Reddle, online dating specialist, told INSIDER. 'It is perfectly ok to be imperfect -- no one has to be perfect all of the time. It is important not to let others define you and to just be you.'

Cracking a joke can help others see you as more attractive, too.

A 2015 study by the University of Kansas found that laughing together can increase attraction in couples. In the study, 51 pairs of people who didn't know each other talked; the more times a man tried to be funny and the more times a woman laughed at his jokes, the more likely she was romantically interested in him.

Additionally, the more the pair laughed together, the higher level of attraction they reported.

Have sex.

Having sex is a great, fun, and pretty easy way to boost your self-image.

People who had casual sex with a supportive partner were found to show an increase in confidence and self-image, according to a 2014 study from the 'Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science.'

Plus, the pheromones you release during and after sex can automatically draw people to you, making you more attractive to them too, according to research conducted by San Francisco State University.

Fake it until you make it.

The easiest way to make yourself feel confident? Act like you already are.

When you challenge yourself to feel good about yourself, it will show and others will take notice.

'The way you enter a room or share a glance are indicators of your confidence working for you or against you,' Levy said. 'It is all about your smile, body language and even eye contact. When you feel odd or awkward people can pick up on that uneasiness which will equate to whether or not you are perceived as attractive.'

Need some inspiration? A 2013 study published in the 'Journal of Experimental Social Psychology' found that simply recalling a moment when you were confident can increase levels of self-confidence.

Rock some red.

Having a wardrobe that makes you feel confident is a huge step in driving up how you see yourself, but feeling better about your appearance may be as simple as wearing a different colour.

A study from the University of Rochester suggests that wearing red can automatically make women more attractive to men. They were more likely in the study to ask out a woman wearing a red shirt than one in green.

Jen Thoden, founder of the personal style site Your Colour Style, told INSIDER that red 'represents passion, power and sensuality.' She recommends rocking red to be taken more seriously and to get a rush of empowerment for yourself.

Stand up straight and tall.

Having good posture can make you look good, but it can also make you feel good.

One study from the Association of Psychological Science found that sitting up straight can make you feel more confident and powerful. They found that people who strike 'power poses' reported elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol (a chemical found when you experience fear), and increased feelings of power.

So, if you're looking for a mood boost and to view yourself in a more positive light, it might be worth keeping your chin up both physically and mentally.

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