SUPERMAN IS A trustworthy guy. Even though he has X-ray vision, he rarely uses his powers when talking to Lois Lane. But Averageman? He's checking you out the minute you walk in the door. 'Men's sex drive is more visual,' says Hong Kong-based clinical specialist Carolyn Neunuebel. 'They say that men think about sex every 20 minutes because of testosterone. So, you can't really blame them for looking. Men do tend to rate attraction higher than women.' No wonder, perhaps, that women are spending more on trying to look their best. According to a survey of 1,000 people by StrategyOne - published in the June issue of US magazine Allure - 51 per cent of men would rather go out with a beautiful woman than one who's merely nice. And 61 per cent said they thought people have a better impression of a man if he has a beautiful woman on his arm. Clinical psychologist Tommy Chan Hing-moon says advertising is partly to blame. Standards set by the media are unrealistic, yet we're hypnotised by them in everyday activities such as walking through an MTR station. 'Look at celebrities,' he says. 'Very few people can match those figures. Most of these messages are insidious and we're not even aware of it. It's hypnotic.' To make it more confusing, many women don't really know what the man on the street is focusing on. If they went by the drooling references to massive breasts such as those sported by Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton's semi-nakedness, women would all be walking around in miniskirts with silicon on show. However, it seems they're looking at a little more - or less - than that. 'The first thing that attracts most men is the face area - mainly eyes, smile, skin, and hair,' says 26-year-old Andrew Ho Pak-shing, a booking agent with Model Genesis in Central. 'Then we look at the figure. Some men find the slim build beautiful and elegant, and other men find a fuller figure beautiful.' How about Hong Kong women? 'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,' Ho says. 'And yes, Hong Kong has beautiful women - of all ethnicities.' Genesis has various criteria for selecting models. 'I look for different types of models,' Ho says. 'Ones who have a common look that everyone likes are ideal for advertising. We need a commercial face, one that's cute or easily recognisable. 'Then there are those who have a distinct look that grabs attention and have the height for the catwalk.' Hairstylist Rudy Prevost, from O2 Salon in Central, says he's most attracted to a woman's walk and her smile. 'My personal thing is the way a woman walks,' he says. 'I have a different view as I'm a hairdresser. I look at the eyes, but also the smile. 'There are a lot of beautiful women in Hong Kong, and they know it. I look at them and they turn their heads. If I smile at a beautiful woman on the street, most of them turn away. I'd prefer it if they'd smile back. I smile at beautiful women all the time. Beautiful things are meant to be looked at.' Alex Zenovic, a 28-year-old creative manager for makeup group Red Earth in Hong Kong, says that, because of his job, he notices the little things more than most men do, such as a good manicure. Men don't necessarily imagine a woman naked the minute they set eyes on her. 'They're obviously looking at them, but not undressing them,' he says. Ask around, and you might be surprised at the Hong Kong male's list of what he thinks makes a woman beautiful, particularly their attention to detail. 'Smile, eyes, legs, butt, breasts, hair, nose, hips, tummy, feet,' says one Hong Kong man in his mid-30s when asked what he finds beautiful in a woman. Feet? 'She should have feet that inspire rather than make you feel ill,' he says. 'Weird bumps on the side mean too early a start in high heels.' One 39-year-old advertising executive has a much simpler list: 'Breasts, eyes, lips, breasts, legs, bum, breasts, hair, nipples, breasts.' Zenovic says the stereotypical big-breasted woman tops many lists. 'Curvaceous women who aren't too overweight are considered more sexy,' he says. Another thirtysomething male puts legs and eyes at the top of his list, with breasts at No 10. He also says he notices a woman's smile and hair. But, as women have been told over the years, being stick thin isn't ideal. 'I do a lot of photo shoots, so I see a lot of models who are too skinny and it's not sexy,' Zenovic says. 'Beautiful isn't skinny - but not too overweight, either.' Slapping on loads of foundation gets noticed, too, but for the wrong reasons. 'A lot of women apply too much foundation and often they don't know how to apply it,' Zenovic says. 'I think it's much more attractive for a woman to wear a small amount of makeup.' Hair stylist Prevost agrees. 'A beautiful woman is still beautiful without makeup.' Easy for them to say. But looking 'natural' can take hours. Women are spending more and more each year on makeup, hair products and health treatments. Despite a brief beauty backlash, 15 years ago, when Naomi Wolfe's book The Beauty Myth hit the shelves - Wolfe said the pursuit of the ideal woman was the driving force behind destructive female behaviour - the desire to look beautiful is here to stay, whether or not it makes women unhappy. In Britain, the market for health and beauty treatments was almost GBP1.5 billion ($21.2 billion) last year, according to market research group Mintel. It found that three out of 10 adults had had a beauty treatment in the past 12 months, spending almost GBP100 each time. Earlier this year, Sydney-based Heat Group released the findings of a survey of 1,356 females of all ages: 94 per cent of those aged 18 and under said they wished they were more beautiful at least some of the time, and 25 per cent said they would change 'everything' about themselves physically, given a chance. Women aged 40 and over were more forgiving of themselves - but not much - with 85 per cent saying they have below-average looks. But 31 per cent said that, although they may not be perfect, they're happy with themselves. When it came to what women would change about themselves, the survey found that 'bums and thighs' were top of the list across all age groups, with 32 per cent wishing for overall improvement, followed by 12 per cent wanting better breasts and 9 per cent better skin. In the Allure survey, 53 per cent of women said breasts were a woman's greatest physical attribute. But only 13 per cent of the men concurred, with the highest percentage - 31 per cent - saying eyes were a woman's best physical attribute. 'There's controversial research about female attraction,' Chan says. 'But they say that beautiful eyes - and eye contact - suggest personality. That's important because people are making a connection.' Is it time to throw out that push-up bra? Perhaps not just yet. 'Most men look at women's breasts,' Chan says. 'This is probably to do with early development, conditioning and nurturing and that's a very ingrained message.' Of course, this is an initial attraction. Men's perceptions can change. 'It can become less important and they might discover that a woman is more beautiful when they get to know her,' Chan says.