The perception of beauty becomes skewed once "beer goggles" turn someone who was a "2" at 10 p.m. to a "10" at 2 a.m. This coincides with the "closing-time effect," where our window of opportunity to find a partner starts to shorten. A new study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, however, may provide some hope for those who are worried about the dwindling time. University of Bristol researchers found the amount of alcohol it takes for us to appear more physically attractive to others is all in just one glass of wine.

Facial attractiveness has been linked to several measures of health, with certain physical traits being idealized over others based on our culture’s long-held perception of attraction. Typically, averageness, symmetry, and sexual dimorphism, such as size, coloration, or body structure, are biologically based standards of beauty in society. These components along with cues from our families, society, peer group, and even pop culture, reflect standards of beauty set by cultures.

Knowing this, Marcus Munafò, the study’s senior researcher and a biological psychology professor at the University of Bristol, and his colleagues sought to observe how alcohol came into play, specifically whether a person's consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol makes him or her appear more attractive to a person of the opposite sex. So they conducted a study in which a total of 40 heterosexual students volunteered to drink and be photographed on three different occasions: while sober, after consuming a glass of wine, and after consuming two glasses of wine. The three photographs were to be used as a side-by-side comparison of the neutral expression given by the drinkers.

The researchers recruited a separate sober group of heterosexual students to rate how attractive they found each headshot when placed next to each other. This group saw either a photo of a person sober next to a photo after one drink, or a sober photo next to a photo taken after two drinks. A total of 104 sober, tipsy, or drunk headshots were observed in the study.

The findings revealed photos taken after one drink were rated as more attractive than the sober photos. However, participants regarded the sober photo as more attractive when compared with the high-alcohol headshot. This suggests a drinker’s own attraction increases after just consuming a small amount of alcohol.

While it is unknown why alcohol can make a person believe he is more attractive to others, the researchers suspect it may have to do with a change in several facial features. The participants’ faces showed pupil dilation, which is associated with attraction and approachability. Muscle relaxation was also seen after just one drink.

Alcohol seems to promote aspects of facial features that are regarded as attractive as seen by someone who is sober. For example, the researchers proposed it could be the rosiness of their cheeks. "The people who had consumed a small amount of alcohol had a slightly rosier complexion" than they did in their sober and high-dose photos," Munafò told LiveScience. "Rosiness is attractive because it characterizes good physical health characteristics."

The researchers admit that in a real-world setting, if your companion is also drinking, the amount of drinks is unlikely to matter when it comes to attraction. This reintroduces the concept of beer goggles. A 2014 study by researchers at the University of Bristol's Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group (TARG) found beer goggles actually do exist as drinking changes people’s perceptions of what is attractive. When a sober and a drinking group were asked to look of photos of men, women, and landscapes before and after drinking, attractiveness ratings were higher for all three images when rated by the drinking group.

It is inevitable that alcohol does influence our sexual attraction to others. Remember, simply one glass of wine can make us look and feel divine. After two, it all goes downhill, unless your companion is drunk, too. Cheers!

Sources: Attwood AS, Munafò MR, Stephen ID, Penton-Voak IS and Van Den Abbeele J. Increased Facial Attractiveness Following Moderate, but not High, Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2015.