Researchers found that women who drink even moderately develop a reduced ability to rate attractiveness in male faces, even when they are sober.
Those who drank were less able to detect male facial symmetry, a marker of attractiveness and good genes which is thought to play an important role in the choice of a partner.
In the research, young women classed as typical, non-alcoholic drinkers - who have up to 40 drinks a month - were put through a number of tests, including an exercise on facial symmetry.
In this test, the 45 women were presented with 60 pairs of male faces. One in each pair was more symmetrical than the other and the women had to identify it in each of the pairs.
Results show that the more alcohol the women had drunk during the previous six months, the lower her performance on the symmetry test.
Even women who had the equivalent of five drinks a month scored less in the test than those who had no drinks. Each additional drink led to a reduced score.
Dr Kirsten Oinonen, of Lakehead University, in Canada, said: "My study suggests that sober women who drink alcohol are less able to perceive facial symmetry when sober.
"When sober, these women are worse at judging facial symmetry, and therefore may find less attractive men more attractive. Given that symmetry is associated with attractiveness of faces, my study does suggest the possibility that alcohol intoxication may decrease facial symmetry perception, and make people look more attractive.
"This is the first study to look at this issue. It suggests that as typical alcohol consumption increases in young women, facial symmetry perception performance decreases."
The researchers say the results suggest alcohol has a long term effect on the brain. They believe it may effect the brain's structure in some way, reducing its visual perception abilities. But it is not known how long term the effects are or whether they are permanent.
"Whether or not any damage or deficits are permanent is hard to tell at this point," Dr Oinonen added.Original here