What Men Find Most Attractive About A Woman's Face, According To Research

Photo: Oleg Kozlovskyy/ Shutterstock
woman face close up

Many women wear makeup and jewelry and fix their hair on a regular basis.

Hopefully, we do those things to feel better about ourselves for ourselves and not just in an effort to be attractive to men — especially now that we know research shows plain and simple are two qualities men say they find most beautiful in a woman.

According to the results of a 2016 study conducted by French scientists titled "Beauty is in the efficient coding of the beholder" and published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the more simple a woman's facial features are perceived to be, the more attractive men are likely to find her.

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Responses were assessed by looking at qualities researchers refer to as "sparseness and more generally efficient neural coding." Apparently, the simpler a woman's face, the easier it is for men to cognitively process.

This simplicity makes her facial features more pleasing to the eye, as our brains have a tendency to gravitate toward simple stimuli.

In conducting the study, the research team led by Dr. Julien Renoult from the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris wanted to better understand what traits men look for when judging the attractiveness of a woman's face.

A sample of 169 men who were recruited from the south of France were shown a series of random women's faces on a computer and were asked to rank the faces on a scale between zero (the lowest point on the attractiveness scale) and 20 (yes, that's a double 10).

The researchers then developed an algorithm to filter out the facial traits that men found most attractive.

The algorithm specifically looked for a trait known as sparseness in its appraisal of beauty — and found a strong connection between the two.

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"A sparse face is a face that is efficiently encoded in the brain — that is, using only a few neurons. In other words, they are easy to process in the brain," Renoult told Medical Daily. "Sparse faces typically are simple, with a smooth skin texture, few wrinkles, and smooth contour lines."

Women's faces are the easiest for the brain to process and are more symmetrical and plain, with no major distinguishing features.

Renoult said that this research could help to highlight the need for a better understanding of why we see certain physical traits as beautiful, how this perception evolves, and the role it plays in mating selection.

"We found that sparseness can explain between 10 and 15 percent of the variation in attractiveness, which makes room for many other biological, cultural, and individual factors that influence mate choice."

Who knew that having face that's basically the equivalent of a simple smiley face emoticon would be the standard of facial attractiveness for women?

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and frequent contributor to YourTango. She's had articles featured in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Woman's Day, among many others.