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

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 Dec;57(6):977-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2007.07.040. Epub 2007 Aug 23.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Beauty*
  • Child
  • Face
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanins / analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Skin Pigmentation*
  • Visual Perception*


  • Hemoglobins
  • Melanins