woman wearing makeup that men like

What Kind of Makeup do Guys Find Attractive?

A lot of women ask the question:  What kind of makeup should I wear to attract a man? What they’re really asking is how can I make myself attractive so that men will notice me? You’ve probably read many an article addressing this question and when you ask men, many will say that they prefer the natural look. So the politically correct culturally sensitive narrative that men want to put out there is that they prefer women au natural. A bare fresh face, with healthy glowing skin, bright eyes, and luscious lips, all of this accomplished sans makeup. But are men telling the truth? Or is this message a bit patronizing and deluded? After all, what normal woman has naturally glowing skin, is devoid of dark circles and occasional chapped lips?

What Kind of Makeup Should I Wear to Attract a Guy?

woman putting mascara on her face

When we scratch the surface of this commonly accepted “fact” and dig a little deeper to see what is it exactly that attracts men when it comes to a woman’s “natural” beauty, we see that their idea of natural doesn’t really exist in nature. (Unless you’re one of the lucky few endowed with the features of a goddess and the youthful complexion of a 10 year old girl.)

Most men don’t realize (sorry men) that that “natural” look actually takes time, effort, and yes, a bit of makeup, to achieve.

Makeup through Millenia

spices used in the old days for women to wear makeup

Makeup has been used over the centuries to designate marital status and social position.  It has been used during religious ceremonies and military battles. But most significantly, makeup has always been used as a weapon of erotic desire. Women have always used makeup as another weapon in their attraction arsenal. Makeup can accentuate markers of sexual arousal and youthfulness: plump lips, rosy cheeks, and bright expressive eyes are all associated with women in their prime reproductive years.  

The women of antiquity knew this. Egyptian women used malachite, galena, copper, lead, and crushed charcoal to line their winged cat eyes.  (I can imagine Cleopatra Queen of the Nile-who wasn’t really Egyptian, by the way- applying dark kohl with an asp around her neck as she plotted to take down Ptolemy and begin her love affair with Mark Anthony.) Greek women also lined their eyes with kohl and even mixed soot, ashes, and charcoal to get the job done.

Trends in Europe ranged from the use of beetroot, mercury, and arsenic, to the deadly white lead powder. Chinese women used rice powder to lighten their complexion and beeswax to stain the lips and fingernails. Native American and Tribal African women wore (and still wear) face paint made of berries, roots, and tree bark to enhance their beauty. And in the US, we’ve seen makeup trends come and go, from calling women with “painted faces”  ladies of the night to extolling the optical illusion of contoured visages we see today.

What Men Really Think About Women’s Makeup

woman putting lipstick on to look attractive to her man

So let’s circle back to the original question: What kind of makeup should I wear to attract a man?  If you ask men, most will naively tell you that they prefer women to look natural.  That they prefer women who don’t wear makeup. But here’s the truth: Men don’t like women whose use of makeup is obvious: the overly done face with the caked-on foundation, exaggerated contouring, and overdone cat eyes. In other words, men are not attracted to women with harsh overly done, in your face (pardon the pun) makeup.

Men are attracted to women who look youthful, who exude vitality and health, women who are sending out subtle sexual signals. And all of this is accomplished by makeup that gives the illusion that you’re not wearing any makeup when in fact you are.

What kind of makeup do men like?

woman with red lips and natural looking makeup that men like
  • Red lips.  Why? Although not clearly known, researchers think that plump red lips evoke triggers of arousal.
  • Foundation.  Why? They may not even notice you’re wearing foundation but they will notice that your skin is smooth and glowing.  Again, a sign of youthfulness that sends a subtle erotic signal that you are healthy to bear offspring.
  • Rouge.  Why? So who calls it rouge? Anyway, blusher.  For the same reason as the red lips and the smoothing foundation, a rosy glow can signal arousal and youthfulness.
  • Mascara, Eyeshadow, and Eyeliner.  Why? They enhance your eyes to give them a youthful appearance and make them the focal point of your face.  

The Goal of Makeup is to Make You Look Healthy and Youthful

youthful looking young woman with natural lady

The goal of good makeup application is to make a woman appear youthful, and heighten the features that will signal to a man, “I’m fertile and can give you healthy descendants who will help you toil the fields and carry on your DNA.” Again, you are sending a message that you are the perfect candidate to bear the fruit of his loins.

Beauty is Only Skin Deep

I can’t end this piece without reminding you that no amount of outward makeup will mask an unkind heart and self-indulgent personality. Although it may sound trite and cliche, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is only skin deep. And, at the end of the day, you can wear any makeup style you like if it makes you feel good and gives you confidence.

But, if you are wearing makeup with the goal of attracting a guy, then make sure to apply it as naturally as possible.  Make it seem as if you’re not wearing any makeup at all. Although, c’mon ladies, we all know the skill and varied makeup tools and products needed to make your skin dewy and rosy, your lips luscious and shimmery, and your eyes bright and alluring. As someone with one, no two drawers full with a random assortment of lip and eye liners, lipsticks, foundations, powders, and brushes knows, it takes a lot of work to look this natural.

As Dolly Parton’s character Truvy said in Steel Magnolias, “There’s no such thing as natural beauty.”

Erin Love Thomas is the founder and managing editor of This Side of Happy. As a relationship blogger, Erin helps readers find, nurture, and sustain healthy relationships. Erin's desire is that everyone finds the love and happiness they seek.