Key points

  • Some facets of physical attractiveness serve as cues to healthy, youth, and even fertility.
  • Older women may benefit more than younger women from enhanced eyelashes.
  • Eyelashes change over time, and can serve as external mating cues.

Have you ever found yourself doing a double-take when you see a woman in public—even if you are not interested romantically? Maybe it’s out of admiration; maybe you think you’re spotting a movie star. According to research, your interest and attention may be explained through scientific seduction. In other words, you might be jumping to positive conclusions—sometimes, merely based on eyelash length.

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How False Eyelashes Affect Attractiveness

Aimee Adam in “Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beautiful” (2021) examined the impact of false eyelashes on perceived attractiveness. [i] She notes that some facets of physical attractiveness are related to culture and time; others serve as cues to health, youth, and even fertility. Specifically, just like the hair on the head, eyelashes change over time and can serve as external mating cues.

In her research, Adam manipulated eyelash length in the photographs of both men and women to gauge the difference in perception. She found that women (but not men) with longer eyelashes were rated as more attractive, healthier, and more feminine. Regarding age, she found that older women benefited more than younger women from enhanced eyelashes, but noted that longer eyelashes did not reduce perceptions of age.

Personal Transformation

Adam’s research demonstrated that the same women were found to be more attractive when their eyelashes were augmented than when they were shorter, corroborating eyelash augmentation as an attractive enhancement strategy that has been practiced for over 4,000 years. She notes her research suggests that longer eyelashes “may serve as an external cue to health and femininity and thus may be used as a proxy of fertility,” rather than merely an “arbitrary cultural preference,” and are specifically preferred in women. She also noted that as predicted, one of her studies showed that augmented eyelashes benefited older women rather than younger women, who were perceived as both more attractive and healthier.

Adam also recognizes eyelashes as only one characteristic that impacts perceptions of age and attractiveness. She recognizes the possibility that other external cues such as hair (color, length, and style) as well as wrinkles, have a stronger influence on perceptions of age. She notes that without these alternative external cues, eyelash length could indeed impact age perceptions, especially in women who were older.

More Than Meets The Eyelashes

Adam acknowledges that her findings confirm that eyelashes can impact social interaction, but recognizes that her findings need to be taken in context. For example, Adam notes that in a recent publication (Russell et al., 2019), researchers eliminating other appearance cues such as hair color, length, and style, found that younger women appeared to be older with makeup, while makeup made older women look younger. So there may be more to the analysis.

Speaking of more to the story, personality, charisma, kindness, and compassion are all traits that factor into personal attraction, regardless of eyelash length. So the lesson learned appears to be to love the lashes—but consider the whole package, too.


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