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Wearing Surgical Face Masks May Make You Look More Attractive, Finds Study

The attractiveness factor was increased by disposable surgical masks. (Representational photo: Reuters)

The attractiveness factor was increased by disposable surgical masks. (Representational photo: Reuters)

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, wearing surgical masks actually made you appear less attractive to other people.

As Covid-19 cases surge globally, and through the long months of the pandemic, people have clung to small comforts. Now, a study has found a slight positive, although entirely outweighed by the negatives, in this whole debacle: wearing face masks might make you appear more attractive to people. As per a report by The Guardian, researchers at Cardiff University have found that both men and women were perceived as better-looking with the lower halves of their faces obscured. While that might not be entirely surprising, the stranger part of the finding is that this attractiveness factor was increased by disposable surgical masks. Moreover, Dr Michael Lewis, a reader from Cardiff University who is an expert in faces, said that this had been far from the case pre-pandemic. The results of the study have been published in the journal journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, wearing surgical masks actually made you appear less attractive to other people. Back then, they were associated with disease or illness. Which they do still, right? So what changed? According to Lewis, the study suggests that the association has changed so that now face masks make people think of healthcare workers, caregivers and those in medical professions. The surgical masks are similar to those worn by medical professionals, and at a time when we feel especially vulnerable to disease, these masks produce a feeling of reassurance.

The research procedure involved 43 women being asked to rate the attractiveness of male faces without a mask, with a plain cloth mask, with a blue medical mask, and holding a book hiding the area that would be hidden by a face mask. Out of all the outcomes, the most notable one was that surgical mask wearers looked the most attractive to the participants.

Beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder, but also in the eyes of the mask-wearer. Lewis told The Guardian that it may well be possible that the outcome is a result of the fact that obscuring the lower half of one’s face draws the viewers’ attention to the eyes. He added that a second piece of research has also been conducted, which suggests broadly the same outcome.

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first published:January 17, 2022, 12:12 IST