It happens to the best of us—you’re signing up for a dating app and you get to that step where it’s time to add your photos when you realize that the only pictures on your phone are of your dog, what you ate for dinner last week, and that random sunset that really made your night last Friday. Most of us don’t have the perfect photo for our dating profile sitting there in our phone, waiting to go… Or do we?
As it turns out, the perfect online dating photo for your profile may already be in your camera roll. You just need to know how to choose the right one. To help you out, the online dating site and app Zoosk looked into the data, and found a few data-backed tips about how to choose the best possible dating photo.
Here’s what they found:
1. Don’t wear a hat.
Online daters (both guys and girls) were seen as less attractive, and thus got less likes from potential dates, when they were wearing a hat in their photo. People like to see as much of you as possible—your whole face and even those lovely locks, so show off a little and ditch the hat.
2. Use a full-body photo.
Including at least one full-body photo in your dating profile can get you up to 203% more incoming messages than the average. Phew! That’s a lot. On top of that, people who have a full-body photo also get 33% more replies to their messages.
3. Got a favorite sports team? Get your jersey out.
People wearing a jersey, t-shirt of their favorite team, or sports outfit in their photos get 32% more incoming messages and 17% more responses. It’s a great way to show off your personality in your photo and give someone something to break the ice with.
4. Add a vacation pic.
Maybe it’s because everyone looks so rested and relaxed on vacation, or maybe it’s because it’s another great conversation starter. Either way, adding a vacation photo to your profile can get you up to 6% more messages.
5. Ladies, snap those selfies.
Women who have a selfie photo get 4% more messages. Guys, not so much. Men who have a selfie photo get 8% fewer messages than the average.
6. Fellas, use an outdoor shot.
Men who add an outdoor photo to their profile get 19% more messages while women who add an outdoor photo get 40% fewer.
7. Don’t take a photo in your car.
Photos of people in front of a car or motorcycle, or inside of a car resulted in fewer likes. So if you’ve got a great set of wheels you may want to think twice before showing them off in your dating profile. Remember, people want to see and connect with you, not with what you drive.
8. Ditch the shades.
Similar to hats, people who wear sunglasses (and thus hide large parts of their faces) get 63% fewer messages and also receive fewer likes.
9. Be the only person in your photo.
It’s hard for people to tell who you are if you use a group photo. So much so that people who have more than one person in their photos get 42% fewer messages. And also avoid a photo with an ex or someone who looks like they could be a date. It’s tempting to use that wedding photo where you’re dressed amazing and dancing with a friend, but if the person you’re posing with looks like a date it could turn people off.
10. Don’t pose with an animal.
As someone who’s Instagram is a steady stream of photos of my dog, I find this a particularly hard piece of advice to give, but the sad truth is that animal photos don’t go over well. If you’re posing with a dog, cat, monkey, bird, tiger, or any other furry friend, it can get you up to 53% fewer messages.
11. If you can, verify your photos.
Not every site has a feature like this, but if you can verify your photos it can pay off big time. On Zoosk, people who verify their photos can get up to 100% more messages than the average. It’s a big boost and can legitimize your whole profile.
12. Ladies, go for the closeup and show off those eyes.
In a recent survey, 53% of men said that the first thing they notice about a woman’s dating profile picture is her eyes. After that, 32% of men said they notice a woman’s body, 12% said her hair, and 3% said they notice a woman’s lips.
13. Use natural makeup.
In the same survey, 86% of men admitted that they prefer a woman with light and natural makeup over someone with a profile photo who’s super done up.
14. Use more than 4.
The more photos the better, but the magic number is four. After looking into the data, Zoosk found that profiles with more than four photos get more messages than those with fewer photos, and they also have longer conversations.
After reading through the tips above, you may start to see a theme—people want to see you! The real you. It may seem counter-intuitive but your dating profile is the one place you’re actually supposed to show off a little. So make sure you’re not hiding in the shadows of your car or behind a pair of sunglasses, be the main focus of the picture, be natural, and put yourself out there. You may be surprised by how well it works.