Science of Attraction (pt 3) – Seeing Red

Last week I stated that red lipstick could increase femininity and sexual attraction. However, I noted that red might not be the best color for Pat, our divorcee looking to get back into dating. Let’ explore why.

Red is a powerful color that has been associated with sexuality for thousands of years. It is connected with love, passion, and romance. Red hearts at Valentine’s Day are symbols of love and affection, and at the other extreme “red-light” districts signal sexually available women.

The color red has biological roots. In some female primates, increased estrogen levels prior to ovulation lead to increased blood flow, thereby causing the skin at the genitals, perineum, chest, or face to become red. Male primates are sexually attracted to these cues of ovulation.

However, many women’s magazines, and make-up stylists, tell women over forty not to wear red lipstick. They state that red makes teeth look more yellow and the lipstick can migrate into the fine lines around the lips. But, there may be a more scientific reason why this suggestion is so insightful.

Researchers have found that men are more attracted to young women with red, but the color red has no affect on the attractiveness of older women. Both young and older men were asked to rate women standing against either a red or white background. The results showed that only the younger women were perceived as more sexually attractive against red compared to the white background. Background color had no affect on sexual attractiveness of the older woman.

As a woman ages, the color red becomes less affective. In fact, some might suggest, it sends a false signal. Some researchers believe we respond to honest signals, those subconscious behaviors that indicate the other person is being honest, such as standing with their arms open. A dishonest signal, such as putting ones hand over their mouth, or crossing his or her arms when they are telling a lie, sends a subconscious message to the listener that the person may not be trustworthy.

As a woman ages her futility decreases. Since red is associated with fertility in primates (yes, we are still primates), wearing the color red may actually be causing a man to back off by sending a subconscious dishonest signal. Therefore, although wearing red lipstick may be an attractant for a young woman, it could possible act as a deterrent for an older woman.

I would suggest to Pat to wear make-up. She wants to increase her femininity and attractive by increasing contrast. However, she should not wear bright red. I would suggest pink honey pearl, wild mango frost, or my favorite passionate hot cooper shimmer. She’s still hot and attractive, but she won’t have the guys subconsciously annoyed by a false signal and potentially “seeing red.”

  1. S. Kelly
    S. KellyJune 28,13

    Dear Dawn– Interesting…. Though there are exceptions to every rule, I might agree with your incites and the makeup artists’ recommendations. I believe we can remain beautiful and attractive as we age (and as we also become wiser ;0), and our style choices change accordingly, too.
    Sue K.

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