What Makes A Woman Sexually Attractive? Here’s What The Research Says

Updated March 31, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Desire is a multi-faceted sensation that is triggered largely by subconscious, hormonal, and genetic factors. It’s not just about having the so-called “perfect” body or a pretty face. While everyone has their unique preferences, and researchers are not exactly sure of every element of attraction, we’ve compiled the available information to give you an idea of what makes a woman attractive to men in general.

Attraction is different for everyone

Is it all about appearance?

While appearance certainly plays a role in attraction, it’s not the only thing involved. Women face a great deal of societal pressure to conform to a certain standard of beauty—one that funds many industries, from cosmetics to plastic surgery to diet programs.

It can’t be repeated enough: it’s more important to accept yourself than to compare yourself to an unattainable standard. Self-confidence can make anyone more attractive to others. Being comfortable in your skin is worth more than any article of clothing, beauty cream, or makeup product. Still, there’s no harm in wanting to look and feel your most attractive.

What men find attractive in women is influenced by many factors, including genetics, cultural standards, and personal preferences. What appeals to one man may not appeal to another. Sexual attraction is complicated.

What makes a woman sexually attractive to men

So, what do men find attractive in women? What are the most important areas you should pay attention to when trying to appeal to the opposite sex?

Science has generally found that men are wired to look for key indicators of a woman’s fertility. Even if he’s years away from thinking about having children, his biological drive is subconsciously running the show. That doesn’t mean all he cares about are large breasts and wide hips, though. There are many other things that a man is scanning for when he’s checking out a woman.

A genuine smile

Smiling frequently can indicate happiness, contentment, and comfort with who you are. It can make a woman look more approachable and open to connection.

Even if you don’t have perfect teeth or are otherwise self-conscious about your smile, allowing yourself to smile around a guy you’re interested in may boost your attractiveness.

Head tilting

One study out of Australia demonstrated that the way a woman tilts her head might make her more attractive to a man. This is one of the signs of female body attraction, after all. Women were considered more appealing when they tilted their heads forward so that they had to look up at an angle, replicating the typical height difference between a man and a woman. Even a subtle shift increased a woman’s perceived attractiveness significantly.


Seeing red

If you have a red dress or red lipstick, you might want to don one of them the next time you’re going to see a guy you’re interested in. Several studies have shown that men rated women who wore red to be more attractive than those who weren’t. In one particular study, men rated women of childbearing age more attractive when they stood in front of a red background, versus a neutral one.

While scientists aren’t certain why red catches men’s attention, research suggests that this has biological roots in sexual attraction. When a woman is aroused, she may blush in the face and chest area, especially around the time of ovulation. Also, when a person is aroused, their blood vessels dilate, allowing blood to flow more easily throughout their body, which may also flush their skin.

Red has long been associated with love, and romance and current research support that there may be evolutionary reasons for this association.

A higher-pitched voice

One study suggested that men prefer women with higher voices, as it’s indicative of youthfulness and a smaller frame, which can both be signs of fertility. Women, on the other hand, prefer men’s voices that are deep and “breathy.”

While you don’t have to adopt a phony way of speaking, you may already be raising the pitch of your voice without realizing it.  found that when a woman is speaking to a man she is attracted to, she tends to speak in a higher tone. Women’s voices may also rise slightly in pitch around the time of ovulation.

Laughing at his jokes

Most people list “a good sense of humor” as being on top of their list of qualities they’re looking for a potential partner. What women find attractive is someone that can make them laugh. Men tend to value appreciation of their humor over a mate who is constantly cracking jokes. Genuinely laughing at a guy’s jokes makes him feel clever, intelligent, and appreciated.

Healthy-looking hair

Hair is one of the first things that we notice about other people, and it can give us an insight into their health and physical condition. There’s a reason why there are so many products out there claiming to produce shinier, fuller hair.

Men generally tend to report preferring longer, fuller hairstyles. Thick, shiny hair can be an indication of a healthy level of reproductive hormones, as any pregnant woman can attest. Interestingly, multiple studies have shown men to prefer brunettes to blondes. They were less attracted to greasy hair and unnatural hair colors, such as blue and green.

“No-makeup” makeup

Despite the liberal use of heavy, eye-catching makeup in adult movies, men consistently rate that they prefer a more natural-looking makeup style. Of course, you can and should wear as little or as much makeup as you want. But know that you don’t have to apply twelve layers to catch a guy’s attention, and he probably prefers you show more of your natural beauty.

Getty/Halfpoint Images
Attraction is different for everyone

A sexy walk

The way a woman walks can also contribute to whether she turns heads. In one study, researchers found that women who walked with a back-and-forth swaying motion that emphasized their hips and backside were more likely to be noticed by men. Scientists concluded that the way that a woman walks is a strong contributor to her attractiveness. It may even be as important as her overall body shape.

It’s much easier to change the way you walk and hold your body than your body type, so you may want to consider paying closer attention to how you walk and practice a more sensual gait if you're trying to gain a man's attention.

A positive personality

Personality may be the most critical element of whether a man finds a woman attractive or not. In one study of over 2000 male university students, participants found that positive personality traits influenced the other traits that the men found attractive. Negative personality traits narrowed the window of attractiveness.

It should come as no surprise that positive personality traits such as kindness, appreciation, and acceptance would be considered attractive. What is interesting is how far these traits can go. If you’ve ever had the experience of not being very attracted to someone when you first met them, only to develop feelings for them once you get to know them better, then you’ll understand this phenomenon.

If you’re struggling with negative thinking patterns and are having difficulty embracing a more positive mindset, it might be worth it to consider seeking counseling.

Learn more about attraction in online therapy

Dating can be difficult, and poor experiences can leave a mark on your self-esteem and willingness to try again. Whether you’re dealing with difficulty finding anyone you connect with or trying to recover after heartbreak, a therapist can help you keep your head above water.

It’s not always easy to make room for therapy in our busy schedules. Setting up an appointment can get pushed to the bottom of our to-do lists. However, taking care of your mental and emotional health is a vital part of being in an appropriate mind state for dating. Online therapy through Regain, available for both individuals and couples, will connect you with a counselor on your terms and when your schedule allows. You can meet your therapist anywhere you have an internet connection and an electronic device.

Individuals struggling with self-esteem issues have been turning to online therapy to work through their thoughts and feelings. Research has shown that online cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can be a very effective way to treat low self-esteem. The goal of online CBT is to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Therefore, the treatment can help individuals feel more positive about themselves.


It isn't easy putting yourself out there to meet someone. Feeling confident in who you are is important. As stated above, confidence can be very attractive. And if you need support to get there, Regain is there to help.

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