Given that so much of people's first impressions of us are based on appearance it's little wonder that if you don't feel good about how you look you don't exactly brim with confidence. And if you confidence is shot, it stands to reason that you won't be projecting yourself to your best advantage. So here are a few simple - and proven - grooming ideas to beat the confidence robbers and bolster your self-esteem.
Get a haircut
According to a study by the Learning and Skills Council a haircut doesn't just make you look better, the very act of having one acts as a short-term confidence booster. It's not rocket science. "When you look good and know you do, the resulting feel-good factor enables you to project yourself with more conviction and authority," says psychologist Lucy Beresford, author of Happy Relationships At Home, Work and Play. You don't have to have some freaky Hoxton 'do' - just a judicious tidy is all it takes.
The fragrance industry portrays its wares as weapons of mass seduction and research conducted by Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina has also revealed that simply wearing a fragrance automatically boosts our confidence and lifts our mood. The study's author Susan Schiffman puts this down to the fact that the areas of the brain responsible for smell and emotions overlap. Don't overdo it though: two to three sprays is usually more than enough.
Grow some facial hair
"Making small changes to your appearance and experimenting with your image can often have a big effect on your life because they can give you the confidence to make much bigger changes elsewhere in your life," says Beresford.
Growing some facial hair is a good start because it's cheap and easy. There's another good reason to grow a goatee though: in a study conducted by an American psychologist D.G. Freedman, men with facial hair were seen by women to be more masculine, sophisticated and mature.
Get a red tie
Not being noticed at the bar? Want to stand out in the crowd? Then get yourself a red tie like this one from Topman. The male equivalent of a flash of red lipstick on a woman, wearing a red tie is the perfect way to draw some ego-boosting attention. It works because the human eye sees the colour red a fraction of a second before all other colours, allowing it (and you) to make a bigger impact.
Get a new smile
A survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry has shown that men with decent smiles aren't just seen as sexier, they're seen as more confident too. So, if you're afraid to part your lips for fear of flashing the tombstones beneath, think about a whitening treatment.
At the very least, pay a visit to your hygienist to have any surface stains blasted off. "Only professional treatments will whiten teeth significantly but if the hygienist uses a bicarbonate of soda jet wash they'll appear about one shade lighter," says Dr Uchenna Okoye, clinical director of the London Smiling Dental Group.
Disguise your spots
We've all been there: you've got an important meeting or hot date and bang on cue up pops a zit. And while most spots clear up on their own sometimes you need a faster solution. The ultimate weapon against confidence-destroying blemishes, Murad's Blemish Treatment Concealer (£19 from nivenandjoshua.com), doesn't just treat the offending spots (with the help of salicylic acid and green tea extract), it effectively covers them up so they're less obvious too.
Kiss with confidence
According to a survey by Wakefield Research 71% people reckon that regardless of how good you look if you have the kind of breath only your dog would recognise, your confidence is shot.
Apart from a love of jalfrezis the main culprit is poor oral hygiene - something borne out by the fact that only 22% of us bother to floss. That's bad news in the breath stakes given that brushing alone often fails to remove trapped food particles. But according to Okoye the tongue is where most odour-causing bacteria actually lurk. So, to keep your mouth sweet, invest in a tongue scraper like Oolitt Excel Tongue Cleanser (£3.49 from lloydspharmacy.com) too.
Ditch the dandruff
Few things knock your confidence like dandruff. As leading life coach Fiona Harrold succinctly puts it: "When you don't feel good about your hair you don't feel good about yourself either."
What's more, as if the head scratching that often goes with the flakes doesn't look suspect enough, body language experts cite it as a subconscious sign of insecurity, nervousness or even deception.
To stop both the itch and the flakes try Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp 2-in-1 anti-dandruff shampoo and conditioner (£2.79 for 225ml), which is designed to sooth the scalp and reduce the desire to scratch.
Invest in a new suit
Never underestimate the power of a great-fitting suit. Slip into a well-cut whistle and you instantly feel more confident and powerful. What's more, you'll automatically command more respect from others - something evidenced by the fact that studies have shown that we're much more likely to break the 'don't cross' rule on a pedestrian crossing if we see a man in a suit doing it first. Sheep-like we might be, but we can still respect good style.
So there you have it: a few simply tricks to boost your confidence and tackle the problems that can knock it. Don't spend too long in front of the mirror mind: researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry in London found that prolonged mirror gazing just leaves you feeling anxious and depressed.
Besides, you look great. There, hows that for a confidence booster?