This is how to kiss better, according to 18 real women

As the classic song “As Time Goes By” says, “A kiss is still a kiss.” But anyone who has ever experienced a swoon-worthy or lackluster kiss knows just how much the quality of a smooch matters. For International Kissing Day on July 6th, good kissing is top of mind…or shall we say, tip of lips? HelloGiggles spoke with 18 women to get their perspectives on how to kiss better. Because on International Kissing Day — and every day — kissing well is a skill worth having.

“One of the biggest complaints I hear from women is about how their partner kisses them. I often will spend a whole session on helping them explore kissing,” California-based sex and intimacy coach Xanet Pailet told HelloGiggles. And a woman’s feedback on how she is being kissed should be listened to since, as Pailet noted, kissing is essential to a woman’s sex drive. “It’s important, especially if you want to have intimate, passionate sex,” Pailet says. “Deep kissing is one [part] of the trifecta of female orgasm. But when it goes south, it’s a disaster.”

A lot of the women who spoke to HG had the same criticisms (ahem, too much tongue). And while some of the following tips are tailored specifically to men, others are more general. So no matter who you’re smooching this International Kissing Day, let these women provide you with some insight on how to pull off an earth-shattering kiss.

1Try foreplay before the (tongue) plunge.

“Don’t get overly aggressive with the tongue. It feels like a giant oyster forcing its way down my throat and it isn’t sexy. I like to think of kissing as a micro-version of sex. There should be a bit of gentle foreplay before the actual plunge.”

— Jena, 34, New Jersey

2Use eye contact.

“Kissing better isn’t necessarily about having incredible skill or swagger. It’s about quality eye contact (before the kiss), a gentle touch with the hands, and starting slow. Diving in head first for a fast and passionate kiss works sometimes, but honestly, something slow will make me melt every time.”

— Dannie, 24, Michigan

3Surprise her.

“I love a steamy kiss when my partner is least expecting it. The element of surprise can make a humble gesture of affection something much more interesting.”

— Diana, 31, New York

4Take the lead.

“I absolutely adore when a guy bites/sucks on my bottom lip. I love when the guy takes the lead!”

— Jessica, 20, New Jersey

5Figure out what the person likes.

“First of all, dudes need to cool it with the tongue. Also, I used to judge HARD on the first kiss of whether or not there’s chemistry, but that’s actually very wrong. It takes a couple kisses to figure out what the person likes/dislikes, tempo, etc. Slow and steady wins the race.”

— Bridget, 27, Massachusetts

6Change intensity levels.

“Do not trap girls into kissing you and make it so you have all the control over tempo and amount of tongue. They will not date you again. I think the best kisses are the ones where you both lean in kind of magnetically — there’s not a lot of thinking about it. Guys don’t do enough with their lips when they kiss. Really good kisses change intensity levels as they go on, like music, so don’t only have one speed.”

— Delilah, 33, England

7Watch what you eat.

“Be conscious of what you eat beforehand. No one wants a kiss that tastes like beef jerky or smoked salmon dip.”

— Erin, 37, New Jersey

8Don’t try to fit my whole face in your mouth.

“You know those people who fit their fists into their mouths as a party trick? There’s nothing worse during kissing than when you feel like that fist. Why are you trying to shove my whole face in your mouth? My nose is not supposed to be in there.

[Also,] nothing is more fun than a combination of opposites while making out: dangerous and sweet; hard and soft; teasing and generous.”

— Maura, 25, Texas

9Bite gently.

“Bite my lip a little — not too hard.”

— Shannon, 41, South Carolina

10Pull her closer.

“A perfect kiss is playful, tender, with a hint of urgency. Kisses come in all forms, but my favorites start with a few pecks and continue onto a lip nibble and tongue. I always swoon when my significant other [pulls] me to the kiss, whether it be his hand on my hips or shoulder.”

— Jacquelyn, 28, Massachusetts

11Pull away slowly.

“If it’s a first kiss, definitely slow and steady and NO TONGUE. Even still I prefer little to no tongue. Also, sometimes I like it when the person will slowly pull away from the bottom lip.”

— Desiree, 33, Washington, D.C.

12Use your hands.

“Don’t forget to use your hands [on my body]! Less tongue, more hands.”

— Erin, 29, Massachusetts

13Control the drool.

“Tips for kissing from a woman who’s kissed MANY frogs: 1) Close your eyes, because it’s just creepy if you don’t. 2) Control the drool. If you have to wipe your mouth with a paper towel afterward then I’m talking to YOU! 3) If tongue is your thing, take it easy, no one wants to kiss a lizard!”

— Angela, 41, New Jersey

14Let it linger.

“I love a kiss that lingers. I want there to be a moment where his lips are pressed against mine and I forget everything else. A little scruff on his face doesn’t hurt either.”

— Abigail, 28, New Hampshire

15Aim for tantalizing.

“A little teeth goes a long way. Aim for a tantalizing edge, not mauling someone into the ER.”

— Kate, 33, New York

16Read the moment.

“Try to make the kiss softer. Don’t tense up your lips (and/or tongue) and go slow! But not too slow. Also, try to read the moment: if in doubt of what to do, let the other person take the lead.”

— Giulia, 25, Italy

17Don’t think too much.

“Use just a little bit of tongue — too much is a turnoff. Have fun with it and don’t think about it too much.”

— Jen, 36, Massachusetts

18Test the waters.

“When you kiss someone new, you can’t commit to a certain way or type of kiss. You gotta test them. I recommend a short kiss first and then pull away to see their reaction. Did they like it? Are they trying to keep going? I also find the ‘pull away’ turns the men I kiss on. It’s playful.

If tongue is involved, commit to it. It’s all or nothing. When someone is hesitant with their tongue it worries me where else they are hesitant. I also think licking lips is seriously sexy, but I definitely wouldn’t start with that. That’s more of a ‘we’re about to get naked’ thing.”

— Carolyn, 32, New York

So for International Kissing Day, try one or all of these tips out. Your kissing partner will thank you for it.

These interviews have been edited and condensed. Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.