Paul Matts, Bernhard Fink, Karl Grammer and Maria Burquest

Color homogeneity and visual perception of age, health, and attractiveness of female facial skin

Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

Background Evolutionary psychology suggests that skin signals aspects of mate value, yet only limited empirical evidence exists for this assertion. Objectives We sought to study the relationship between perception of skin condition and homogeneity of color/chromophore distribution. Methods Cropped skin cheek images from 170 girls and women (11-76 years) were blind-rated for attractiveness, healthiness, youthfulness, and biological age by 353 participants. These skin images and corresponding melanin/hemoglobin concentration maps were analyzed objectively for homogeneity. Results Homogeneity of unprocessed images correlated positively with perceived attractiveness, healthiness, and youthfulness (all r > 0.40; P < .001), but negatively with estimated age (r = −0.45; P < .001). Homogeneity of hemoglobin and melanin maps was positively correlated with that of unprocessed images (r = 0.92, 0.68; P < .001) and negatively correlated with estimated age (r = −0.32, −0.38; P < .001). Limitations Female skin only was studied. Conclusions Skin color homogeneity, driven by melanin and hemoglobin distribution, influences perception of age, attractiveness, health, and youth.