Bright Side

9 Details About Your Look That Can Ruin a First Impression in a Split Second

There are 3 universal conclusions that people can detect just by looking at each other’s faces. They are how dominant, how reliable, and how attractive a person is and it takes us less than one second to figure them out. Even though our first impression may be wrong (sometimes), it is the only thing we have: in an interview, a first date, or when meeting the parents of your date. And it is better to be prepared for these meetings the best way you can.

Bright Side has processed the results of scientific studies about how first impressions are formed and which stereotypes impact the way we perceive someone else’s appearance.


People do judge each other by appearance. So, in one experiment, scientists wanted to find out about the impression that is formed about people based on what they are wearing.

The researchers tested 2 specific brands, Lacoste and Tommy Hilfiger. It turned out that the logo of a premium brand increases the status of the person wearing this piece of clothing. People think that this person is wealthy. But interestingly, the price of the clothing had no impact on the perception of their attractiveness or kindness, and the price didn’t establish any form of trust. But people estimated the wearer’s level of possible income to be much higher based on the logo.

Facial expression

Childish facial expressions make people look more attractive and reliable. On a subconscious level, we think that people with baby faces have childish qualities: honesty, kindness, naivete. We want to protect and support these people. This is partially the reason why people with these faces are often acquitted in court and they are less often charged with anything.

The reaction in the brain we have when we see a baby and when we see a man with a baby face is identical. When it comes to career development, people with baby faces are at a disadvantage because they need to be charismatic and be seen as leaders, but they are perceived as more obedient people instead.


A series of experiments showed that women with tattoos are perceived by other people as being more frivolous. The participants of the experiments thought that women with tattoos change partners more often and love drinking in the evening. And the more tattoos women had on their bodies, the more powerful this effect was.

According to the results of other studies, men are more likely to start a conversation with a woman that has a tattoo (the female participants of the study got temporary tattoos). So, if a woman has a tattoo, but she is not looking to find a partner, it is better to hide the tattoo with clothes.

Another experiment showed that tattoos make us look like adventurous people with a lot of experience. This is true to an extent, because new tattoos reduce anxiety significantly and increase the tattooee’s satisfaction with their appearance.


People feel that if a person looks away during a conversation, it means that they are less sincere and more prone to lying to others. Even if, in reality, it is a sign of shyness, we should try to notice when we look away. We can’t see ourselves from the side, but we can ask someone else if they are comfortable talking to us.

Interestingly, speaking face to face with someone increases the quality of our life in general. During a study, experts tried to prove that online communication has the same positive effect as meeting people in person and it turned out to be false. Eye contact is incredibly important.


One study showed that women are hypersensitive to other people’s hair. The color, length, density, thickness, type of hairstyle, and other qualities are important indications for women. Women use these things to draw conclusions about other people’s age and even the state of their health.

  • Straight hair makes us look 5 years younger, and curls make us look several years older.
  • Cascading hair and curls make us look old and they make us seem sick.
  • Even though long hair makes us look more feminine, it is not connected with professionalism and self-confidence as much as short hair is.

It is up to you whether you agree with the results of the experiment or not, but this is definitely a good reason to try a new haircut and see how it affects your communication.

Hair color

Hair color affects our attractiveness for the opposite sex, the way we, as experts, are perceived, and people even estimate how likely we are to become their colleagues based on our hair color. There are quite a lot of studies about this and we have found some of them.

  • Cold hair colors make the owner look old, and warm shades, on the contrary, make us appear younger in the eyes of other people.
  • Women that have light hair make people want to help them. And women with dark hair look as if they earn a lot, and they are more talented.
  • Ginger men get more rejections when they are trying to talk to new women.

Makeup and smiling

The results of scientific studies say that women with makeup look about 4 years younger than others and that the first impression people have about them if 37% better. But really bright makeup is perceived as bad as no makeup at all, and light makeup gets the best scores. Also, women with a lot of makeup are not recognized as well, because their true facial features are not as easy to see.

A smile is memorized better than someone’s clothes or their perfume. 48% of people will remember how someone smiled at them and it forms their first impression. Besides, a smile makes us look more altruistic and attractive.

The way you talk

People think that if they are active and bright and if they share cool stories about themselves, it will help them make a good impression. But in fact, according to scientists from Harvard, people that ask questions are more attractive than those who talk. This is the information experts found out after 3 studies. The people that asked more questions during a conversation seemed to be more attentive, understanding, and caring people.

The focus on what we look like from all angles hurts the way people perceive us because the focus of attention moves from the person we are talking to, to us. As experts found out, people are so concentrated on what to say and what to do that they often don’t even notice someone’s good attitude toward them.


Tidiness also has an influence on the first impression we make. This is why we should pay attention to the things we don’t usually notice like the condition of our eyebrows, and for men — it’s their hair and their beard. Because it’s not the length of the beard that matters, it’s the tidiness. If you have dyed hair, make sure to continue to dye it regularly when the color fades or when the roots become too visible.

Vivian Zayas, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, and her colleagues found that the feeling people have after seeing someone’s photo leaves a huge imprint. Even after they communicate with the person face to face, they still behave in accordance with the image they had had in their minds. This is why you should be very careful about the photos you use for your social media and CV.

Which appearance stereotypes have you had to deal with?