The Most Attractive Eye Colors Around The World, According To Data And Experts

Is there really an eye color that's considered the most attractive around the world? Or is it all down to individual preference? Well, there would certainly be a clear choice if attractiveness was based on prevalence. There's differing data when it comes to exactly how many people around the globe have brown peepers, though according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it's over 50% of people in the world. Going by World Population Review's data though? Then the number of people with brown eyes around the world is actually closer to 70% to 80% of people.

Of course, we know preference is usually not always based on commonality. But it turns out there is an actual science to it. According to experts, the reason some people may prefer one eye color over another is because looking into someone's eyes actually causes a chemical reaction in the brain. "Oxytocin can also be released when staring into another's eyes which helps us bond with another and make us feel loved and safe," Ness Cooper, a sex and relationship coach explained to Lenstore. Though we don't exactly know the specifics of what causes someone's brain to prefer green eyes more than blue, there are many possible reasons for it.

Well, according to data and research theories collected around the world, there are a range of different eye colors that are considered attractive around the world. And numerous theories on why that may be. This is what we found out.

Brown eyes are considered the most attractive in Malaysia

Got brown eyes and looking for love? Then you may want to head to Malaysia. According to a survey in Ipsos' global attitudes towards beauty report from 2019, respondents from the country chose brown eyes as the ideal eye color for a partner in both men and women. People in Saudi Arabia, India, and South Korea also made it clear they're most attracted to men with brown eyes. Those results differed slightly when it came to the ideal eye color for a partner who identifies as a female. Only in Malaysia and South Korea did more than 35% of respondents choose brown eyes as the most attractive for women.

Another study from 2019 produced similar results when it comes to Malaysian people's preference on eye color. As reported by Statista, more than 500 people in Malaysia aged between 18 and 74 were asked, "When thinking of beauty, which eye color do you consider ideal for men?" 43% of respondents answered brown. They were also asked, "When thinking of beauty, which eye color do you consider ideal for women?" with 38% responding brown.

So, why does Malaysia love brown eyes so much? Well, World Population Review confirmed that brown is the most popular eye color in the region, suggesting people are statistically more likely to have a partner with brown eyes. But that's not the only reason the eye color that is the most common may also be viewed as attractive.

Malaysia's preference for brown eyes may be related to their ancestors

So, where in addition to Malaysia are brown eyes considered the most attractive — and why? Well, Contact Lenses asked 95 designers around the world to edit the color of the eyes of a woman in a photo to the shade they considered the most beautiful. Artists in Egypt, Mongolia, China, The Philippines, and Indonesia all sent back photos showing a woman with brown eyes. And what do all of these countries, including Malaysia, all have in common? Brown is the most common eye color! That suggests that in some countries, there may be a correlation between what's considered the most attractive eye color and what's most prevalent in that region. Scientists call this the mere exposure effect, which is when people develop a likeness for something because it's what they're exposed to. When it comes to eye color, some experts theorize that preference is particularly related to the eye color of people we're exposed to at a young age.

"Although research on this is still limited, it may be that we like eye colors similar to the caregivers we had when younger due to the bonding that happens through hormonal releases when we're small, rather than a direct link to genetic family and eye preference," sex and relationship coach Ness Cooper explained to Lenstore. So, in short, people in countries where brown eyes are easier to find may consider the color most attractive because their parents or caregivers were more likely to have them, and that safety and love can later become associated with what they find attractive.

Blue eyes are preferred in the U.S.

In Ipsos' report of global eye color preference, 24% of American respondents preferred women with blue eyes, while 26% preferred men with blue eyes. Going off previous theories that suggest commonality doesn't hold up here, however, because per the World Population Review, the most common eye color in the US is actually brown.

This means blue eye color preference has more to do with the way the color is perceived by the general population. Eriksen Translations and Hubspot noted blue has been known to represent safety, trust, loyalty, and security, particularly in western countries. The color has also long been associated with masculinity, which may explain why more respondents preferred the color in those who identify as male over females.

But that's not all. Blue is the color often used in US marketing campaigns, due to its lack of negative connotations. Another place you may have seen a lot of blue? Romantic comedy movie posters. Some of the most popular rom-coms of all time (like "Maid In Manhattan" and "Notting Hill") have predominantly blue posters, which may mean people associate it with romance.

Blue is also popular in Norway (but for a different reason)

In addition to the U.S., blue eyes are extremely popular in Norway. One particularly interesting study conducted in Norway (where blue eyes are most common) in 2006 threw out a unique reason for why this may be the case. The study showed 443 Caucasian Norwegians photos of people whose eyes had been altered digitally to appear either blue or brown. When asked to choose which image of the person they found most attractive, those women with blue eyes reported no preference on eye color. Nor did those who identified as men who were studied.

The only group that expressed a preference were men who themselves had blue eyes. The study proposed that the reason men with blue eyes claimed to find the women who also had blue eyes most attractive was due to it subtly signaling a subconscious reassurance that if they were to procreate with the other, they'd have confirmation any children born in the relationship are their biological children. And while parents with brown eyes can have a child with blue eyes if they pass along the gene (which can be recessive), it's very likely that two parents with blue eyes will have a child with them.

In France (and other western countries), blue eyes are stereotypically attractive

Amongst the several other nations that considered blue eyes best in Ipsos' study? France, Germany, Australia and Belgium. But why? Dr. Alexander Lapa, a psychiatrist at Ocean Recovery Centre, has a theory. 

Over the years, western countries have been sold the idea that blue eyes are the ideal. "Cultural factors often dictate the collective consciousness of what is deemed attractive. Typically, blonde hair and blue eyes were highly valued and often emphasized and portrayed in the media," Dr. Lapa explained in a press release. Because of that, many of us believe blue eyes are most attractive because the likes of Marilyn Monroe or Taylor Swift are considered the epitome of beauty.

However, Contact Lenses' study defied this theory. It found the likes of Iceland, Belarus, and Canada (all Western countries) returned blue-eyed photos, but so did Morocco and Nepal (which aren't). But that may be explained by a 2011 study. It showed 80 Germans (where it's most common to have blue eyes) photos of the eyes of 60 women and asked them to rate their attractiveness. But there was no correlation between eye color and how attractive they rate them. It concluded there could be such a thing as a "blue-eyes stereotype," in which people subconsciously consider blue eyes are most attractive but aren't necessarily most attracted to them. A few other countries that have a penchant for blue eyes? According to Contact Lenses study, that's Greece, Croatia, and Mexico.

But the most attractive eye color in the UK may depend on how you identify

So what's considered the most attractive eye color in the UK then? Blue and hazel. But allow us to explain why. While some research has found a consistent eye color preference no matter if a person identifies as male or female in some countries, one study by Lenstore suggested that's not necessarily the case in the UK. In 2021, The company tested this hypothesis by creating an online dating profile for a male and female subject. They kept the biographies and all other details the same, but changed the colors of their eyes in order to find which color got the most matches. And the results were pretty interesting.

The results showed that blue was considered the most preferred eye color in males, with 27.17% of dating profiles for blue-eyed male subjects earning matches. In second place was brown eyes, getting 21.97% of matches. Blue is actually the most popular eye color in the UK, which may explain why, similar to Malaysia's brown eye preference, so many people seem to have an attraction to the color. As for females though? Hazel eyes were the most popular to match with, as they got matches 20.19% of the time. 

But, in Contact Lenses' study, which didn't break down subjects by the gender they identify as, blue eyes came out on top in Britain. They also did for Brits in both men and women in Ipsos' findings. Pretty interesting, huh?

British people were also attracted to purple eyes though, and social media could have something to do with it

There's something else interesting about Lenstore's 2021 study. When surveying UK respondents for the most attractive eye colors, the results showed the second most commonly matched accounts for those who identified as female was actually purple eyes. Yes, purple. Of course, purple eyes aren't natural, so why did people appear to be attracted to them?

Well, there's a theory for that too. And technology may have something to do with it. As Dr. Alexander Lapa noted in a press release for the study, cultural factors, like media, can exert significant influence the eye color we're most drawn towards. Given that media has increasingly globalized, it's made room for photos that aren't authentic (such as those created with generated through AI or photoshop) to reach the masses.

The vast majority of us are spending much of our time online. The Datareportal October 2023 global overview that around half of the world's population now uses social media. "While we all have our specific preferences, we have often been subject to conditioning to what is deemed socially attractive. The recent rise in popularity of social media only perpetuated this," Dr. Lapa claimed. Therefore, as we start to see more images of people that have been edited, could it be that unnatural eye colors could be becoming increasingly attractive?

Green eyes have been considered most attractive in Italy, despite their rarity

Green eyes may be associated with envy, but in parts of South America and the Mediterranean, they're considered the ultimate beauty. Ipsos' report found people from Italy, Argentina, and Chile all rated green eyes as the most attractive, no matter a person's gender. Per Contact Lenses' findings, Spain, Romania, Bosnia are also on the green eye train.

Green is one of the rarest eye colors, with around a mere 2% of the world's population having them, according to World Atlas. That turns the theory of the most common color being the most attractive one on its head. However it brings up the another theory, which suggests that how attractive an eye color is considered in any given region is based on scarcity. "It makes sense that the rarer colors tend to be more captivating," clinical psychologist Dr. Carla Marie Manly told MBG. "Rooted in primitive survival mechanisms, the human mind — and the human eye — tends to notice that which is different and unique." That could also explain why purple eyes were considered intriguing in the UK.

Of course, these are all theories for a reason. Though globally rare, green eyes are most prevalent in Ireland and Scotland, where World Population Review claims around 75% of people are born with them. Going off the scarcity theory, this would imply both countries don't prefer them. However, Contact Lenses' study proved otherwise, with designers from Ireland returning a green-eyed photo of a woman as their preference.  

The methodology behind these eye color attractiveness findings

Because what eye color a person finds the most attractive can be so personal and based on a combination of so many different factors (some of which may even be conflicting), this article relied on a number of different sources. To determine the most popular eye colors around the world, we collected and analyzed data across several studies and research theories. Our references include survey data collected from Ipsos' 2019 global attitudes towards beauty report, Statista, Lenstore Hub, as well as research published in the Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology journal, the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery journal, BioRxiv, and The Datareportal October 2023 global overview. This article also incorporates theories and expert analysis from Dr. Alexander Lapa, Dr. Carla Marie Manly, and Cecilia Fagerholm's thesis.

In addition, this article and its findings relied upon global eye color data collected by World Population Review and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, while also incorporating research on color association theory from Eriksen and Hubspot.