Bernhard Fink, L Bunse, Paul Matts and D D’Emiliano

Visible skin colouration predicts perception of male facial age, health and attractiveness

International Journal of Cosmetic Science

Although there is evidence that perception of facial age, health and attractiveness is informed by shape characteristics as well as by visible skin condition, studies on the latter have focused almost exclusively on female skin. Recent research, however, suggests that a decrease in skin colour homogeneity leads to older, less healthy and less attractive ratings of facial skin in both women and men. Here, we elaborate on the significance of the homogeneity of visible skin colouration in men by testing the hypothesis that perception of age, health and attractiveness of (non-contextual) digitally isolated fields of cheek skin only can predict that of whole facial images. Facial digital images of 160 British men (all Caucasian) aged between 10 and 70 were blind-rated for age, health and attractiveness by a total of 147 men and 154 women (mean age = 22.95, SD = 4.26), and these ratings were related to those of corresponding images of cheek skin reported by Fink et al. (J. Eur. Acad. Dermatol. Venereol. in press). Linear regression analysis showed that age, health and attractiveness perception of men’s faces could be predicted by the ratings of cheek skin only, such that older men were viewed as older, less healthy and less attractive. This result underlines once again the potent signalling role of skin in its own right, independent of shape or other factors and suggests strongly that visible skin condition, and skin colour homogeneity in particular, plays a significant role in the perception of men’s faces.