Beauty lies in the eye of the mask-wearer.
While navigating the parameters of modern dating can be difficult, it’s especially challenging during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has stripped away spontaneity; it’s turned chance into calculations and precautions.
The days of meeting the love of your life on a night out have been swapped for dating-app roulette and ghosting has never seemed more appropriate than it is now.
But if you’re trying to navigate love during a global health crisis, there’s still something to be said about face masks and what they do for attraction. One study recently found that 88% of adult women in the US found men who wear masks in public to be sexier than those who opt not to wear one.
That should be news to men who felt that wearing a mask showed a sign of weakness and threatened their masculinity, which explained why men were more likely to not wear a face-covering earlier in the pandemic.
Masks, in general, save lives but they even have something else to offer — making you appear physically more attractive, according to a new study.
A new paper titled “Beauty and the Mask” by Temple University’s College of Public Health and the Center for Human Appearance at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine found that people who wear masks appeared more attractive due covering flaws that can be perceived as unattractive when one is without a mask.
The study, which had 500 participants, looked at a total of 60 faces and ranked them on attractiveness. Each face was shown with and without masks on and participants were asked to rank them on a scale of attractive, average, or unattractive.
The power of the mask turned those who were considered unattractive without masks on saw a huge climb in attractiveness when masked photos were shown. Researchers said the rating increased by 42% due to masks and results were similar for both men and women.
So what can spark such a turn? The secret is in the eyes, according to researchers.
“Many people believe that the appearance of the eyes is one of the strongest influencers of judgments of attractiveness,” David B. Sarwer of Temple University said, via Fox News. “This study suggests that aspects of the lower face, which are covered by masks, also play an important role in perceptions of attractiveness.”
Sarwer told CBS Philly that those still hesitant about their appearance when wearing a mask should reconsider how it can make them appear.
“For people who might self-conscious or concerned about how they look in a mask when they go in the public, we now have evidence that says, in reality, people are going to see you as more attractive,” Sarwer told the outlet.
Of course, there’s also something to be said about the type of mask you do wear in public. People aren’t going to find you attractive if you’re wearing a dirtied, multi-used surgical mask nor will a t-shirt covering get you many dates. A recent study by Duke University found that certain face coverings like bandannas, gaiters, and knitted masks aren’t protecting you and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The study, which tested more than a dozen mask types, found that the N95 mask was the most effective, and masks made from cotton or surgical masks were the most protective against respiratory droplets.
“We were extremely surprised to find that the number of particles measured with the fleece actually exceeded the number of particles measured without wearing any mask,” Martin Fischer, one of the study’s authors, told CNN. “We want to emphasize that we really encourage people to wear masks, but we want them to wear masks that actually work.”