Having just gotten out of a long-term relationship, life as a single 20-something has been anthropologically a fascinating experience. Now that I'm "on the market" so to speak, every time I go out, even to places I'd been to a million times before, it's as if a filter has been lifted from my field of vision, suddenly revealing for the first time all the nuanced dynamics and negotiations that transact between single 20- and 30-somethings at bars, gyms, and even Trader Joe's.
As a beauty editor (and consumer), part of my anthropological studies have involved noticing what products and looks warrant the most romantic attention (from men and women), and I've documented a few interesting patterns. Indeed, I've noticed that there are a handful of alluring makeup, hair, and body products that, just like Elle Woods's famed "bend and snap," pretty much guarantee an 83% return rate on a dinner invitation. Want your beauty routine to do the most for your dating game? Let my data be your guide. Whether it's the scent, the color, or that they make for the perfect conversation piece, these are the beauty products that get me hit on every time I wear them.
I think any pickup artist would agree that complementing some very specific part of a person's appearance that they clearly put some thought and effort into is a good move, and these star tattoo stamps provide the perfect fodder. Every time I dot one or more of these stars around my eyes or on my cheeks and head to a bar, it sparks genuinely entertaining conversation with the characters who notice. Byrdie's assistant editor, Erin (pictured alongside me in the photo below), can confirm.
Several psychology studies have shown that women who wear red are more likely to attract men in social scenarios; however, I find that people are often scared of red lipstick specifically since, if things go well, it could end up, well, smearing places. But on more than one occasion when I've gone out wearing this super-bright red nail polish from Essie's Gel Couture line (which is insanely long-wearing, by the way), dudes have commented saying they dig the color. After all, no matter how fun things get, that nail polish isn't coming off on anything.
A guy I'm currently seeing recently told me that when he sees a girl wearing a "smoky eye" (a term I was impressed he even knew), he gets the impression that since she's put some effort into creating a sultry look, she might be more down to talk and flirt. I can't say his logic is off: Clearly there's a reason smudgy dark eye makeup is a go-to date night look.
If you're into the smoky eye but not super skilled with an eye shadow palette, I highly recommend Burberry's eye contour shadow sticks, which come in a variety of fun, shimmery hues from dusky mauve to stone gray. They're easy to apply straight from the tube to create that open-for-flirting effect, no brushes required.
Our pupils dilate when we're talking with someone we're attracted to, and studies also show that we are just as attracted to dilated pupils, as they are a sign of our attraction to others. (Plus, human beings systematically find things with big, round eyes cuter.) Acuvue's Define contact lenses don't make your pupils look bigger, but they do darken the ring around your iris, so your eyes overall look wider and more engaged—the perfect, subtle beauty trick when you're out chatting with babes.
While I find that potential matches tend to be a little wary of red lipstick, I also know that big lips are a classic sign of strong mating potential, which is why most people find them so attractive. My go-to move for making my lips look as ample as possible? A layer of Dior's shiny, intensely moisturizing Addict Lacquer Stick in Tease ($37) topped off with a coat of Glossier's nonsticky (aka kissable, non-gross) Lip Gloss for that extra-juicy, plump effect.
On to body products: I honestly do not understand the science behind it, but both men and women seem to lose their minds over the rich, gourmand scent of Sol de Janeiro's Brazilian Bum Bum Cream ($45). I swear, every time I leave the house after applying the stuff, it acts as some sort of freaky love potion. A tub of the cream is pricey though, so if you're just using it for the scent, opt for the brand's body fragrance instead, which sports the same irresistible pistachio and salted caramel scent. "One of Brazilians' essential beauty secrets is being cheirosa (sheh-rō-zah), which means to always smell incredibly delicious from sunrise to sundown," Sol de Janeiro says. "Brazilian Crush is a delightfully sunny, daily immersion for use on body, hair, and lingerie."
Much like Milk's tattoo stamp, these little "wordplay" pins from the hair tool brand InStyler, which say "Bonjour" and "Ciao", always provide the perfect conversation starter. I can't tell you how many times wearing one of these out has inspired some cute, internationally oriented person to ask me if I speak French or Italian or have ever traveled to Europe, which I am always thrilled to discuss.
My theory is that people find messy, undone hair attractive because it makes them picture waking up with you in bed (or, ahem, doing other stuff). Every time I top off my waves with Oribe's classic Après Beach spray, it ends up being a really, really good night. And that is all I will say about that.
Out of all the dozens of body oils I've tried in my day, this 100% organic one has remained a tried and true favorite for its delicious floral scent (it literally smells like a field of flowers but subtle) and its ability to make my legs look absurdly glowy and contoured. If I'm wearing a short dress, I am slathering this stuff on my entire lower body. End of story.
Want to see more flirty products? Don't miss the perfumes Byrdie editors wear for seducing.