Beauty Beat: Eye-Catcher

You're at a party and you spot a cute guy across the room. Attracting him may only take a wave of your magic wand—your mascara wand, that is. According to David Givens, an anthropologist and author of Love Signals, there are three steps of attraction: Get noticed, advertise your attributes, and signal safety. Mascara can help women do all three.

Look at Me!

Simply having bothered to decorate one's lashes suggests a desire to be noticed. It's like putting out a welcome sign inviting others to approach and check out the artwork. And once they're caught in that frame of luscious lashes, they'll have a hard time looking away.

A longer lash creates more action in the eye area: The extended tip travels a larger arc during each blink. Since the human visual system prioritizes movement, fluttering those long lashes can catch, and keep, eye contact.

Oh, So Female; Oh, So Healthy...

Men tend to have darker complexions and less facial contrast. Therefore, a pronounced contrast between the eye area and the skin is a symbol of femininity. A woman's darkened lashes also make her sclera (white of the eye) look lighter, a sign of health and youth. Speaking of youth, mascara may be its fountain. By making her eyes look bigger in relation to her ears and nose—which keep growing throughout life—a woman can effectively turn back the clock.

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You're Safe With Me, Baby

Approaching a stranger is always a little scary, but it is easier if they look sweet and innocent. Mascara can help here, too. Longer eyelashes bring adult facial dimensions closer to the proportions of a baby, possibly eliciting sympathetic, even protective, responses from a beholder. If a woman bats her eyelashes, she could be signaling excitement and a desire to cooperate. But then again, she could just have some mascara in her eye. To check, look past the lashes to the pupils. If they are dilated, chances are she's hot for you.

Frame Your Eyes

Psychology Today road tested two mascaras, plus a more extreme option.

  • Honeybee Gardens: Truly Natural Mascara, $10

    This all-natural product goes on smooth and is impossible to clump. Your lashes will be darker but no one will suspect you've painted them.

  • LORAC Publicity Stunt Lashes, 3-Day Long-Wearing Mascara, $19

    Though it should be called two-day mascara, there was no smudging—even with water. The hourglass-shaped brush created lashes my main squeeze described as "very long, very sexy."

  • Eyelash extensions, Skintology Spa, New York City, $450

    This treatment creates a doll-like look and eliminates, for several weeks, the need for mascara. While these hairs glued to the ends of my real eyelashes did elicit more eye contact from strangers, my significant other said they were "too long, and a little scary." Not recommended if you wear glasses.

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