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.