Bernhard Fink, Paul J Matts, Heiner Klingenberg, Sebastian Kuntze, Bettina Weege, and Karl Grammer (2008)

Visual attention to variation in female facial skin color distribution

Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 7(2):155-161.

Objectives  Visible skin condition of women is argued to influence human physical attraction. Recent research has shown that people are sensitive to variation in skin color distribution, and such variation affects visual perception of female facial attractiveness, healthiness, and age.

Methods  The eye gaze of 39 males and females, aged 13 to 45 years, was tracked while they viewed images of shape- and topography-standardized stimulus faces that varied only in terms of skin color distribution.

Results  The number of fixations and dwell time were significantly higher when viewing stimulus faces with the homogeneous skin color distribution of young people, compared with those of more elderly people. In accordance with recent research, facial stimuli with even skin tones were also judged to be younger and received higher attractiveness ratings. Finally, visual attention measures were negatively correlated with perceived age, but positively associated with attractiveness judgments.

Conclusions  Variation in visible skin color distribution (independent of facial form and skin surface topography) is able to selectively attract people's attention toward female faces, and this higher attention results in more positive statements about a woman's face.