According to a study published by Oxford University Press, moderate drinking can enhance the drinker’s attractiveness. This isn’t the same as beer goggles, though that’s also a scientifically proven phenomenon. The following abstract distills the purpose, methodology, and results of the study:
Aims: Alcohol consumption is known to be associated with risky sexual behaviours, but this relationship may be complex and bidirectional. We explored whether alcohol consumption leads to the consumer being rated as more attractive than sober individuals.
Methods: Heterosexual social alcohol consumers completed an attractiveness-rating task, in which they were presented with pairs of photographs depicting the same individual, photographed while sober and after having consumed alcohol (either 0.4 or 0.8 g/kg), and required to decide which image was more attractive.
Results: Photographs of individuals who had consumed a low dose of alcohol (equivalent to 250 ml of wine at 14% alcohol by volume for a 70 kg individual) were rated as more attractive than photographs of sober individuals. This was not observed for photographs of individuals who had consumed a low dose of alcohol.
Conclusion: In addition to perceiving others as more attractive, a mildly (emphasis mine) intoxicated alcohol consumer may also be perceived as more attractive by others. This in turn may play a role in the relationship between alcohol consumption and risky sexual behaviour.
In nutshell, the study’s authors concluded that a good buzz (like 2 glasses of wine) made the drinker more attractive, but double that amount actually decreased attractiveness. As for why the moderate drinkers were perceived as more attractive, the researchers speculated that it may have something to do with “an increase in red colouration, which in turn is known to be perceived as healthy and attractive.”
For my part, I do agree with the researchers that a good buzz can raise the hotness level of the drinker, in the body temperature sense as well as the physical attractiveness sense. However, I don’t think it has anything to do with b/flushing. So if facial redness isn’t the reason behind increased facial attractiveness, then what is it? Certainly, no amount of moderate drinking can achieve what plastic surgery can do in terms of facial enhancement. Moderate drinking won’t clear up acne, straighten a crooked nose, plump up paper thin lips, nor can it whiten teeth or add shine to dull hair.
While moderate drinking can’t erase or correct facial flaws, it can change or enhance the drinker’s demeanor–which can make all the difference in the appearance of attractiveness to strangers:
1) Increased self confidence: There’s a reason alcohol is sometimes called “liquid courage”. Some people are very shy and inhibited when sober. Mild shyness and self consciousness can be overcome with a drink or two, which can help project an air of self confidence and vivaciousness. When someone is feeling confident, it almost always shows in the face. Since self confidence is universally considered an attractive quality, it’s only natural to perceive confident people as attractive despite any physical imperfection they may have.
2) Relaxed demeanor: Having a few drinks after a hard day is a common way to unwind for most people in the world. When you relax and stop thinking about the things that make you want to go postal, your facial expressions change. Your facial muscles relax and you drop the scowl. No one likes being around uptight people, no one likes to look at uptight people. Faces that look uptight, annoyed, or angry will always lose attractiveness points no matter how physically appealing the face may be.
3) You are more likely to have sex: Admittedly, this is a rather selfish reason to find someone attractive.
4) Actual health benefits: Moderate red wine consumption has been proven to be good for the heart and circulatory system. It’s very rare for an unhealthy person to look good. Healthy people can be average looking, but are almost never ugly. If your moderate drinking contributes to your good health, it will definitely show in how you look.
While mild drinking will never replace plastic surgery and exercise, its salutary effects on your attractiveness are “scientifically” real. Or at least as real as you think it to be.