The effects of skin colour distribution and topography cues on the perception of female facial age and health

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008 Apr;22(4):493-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2007.02512.x. Epub 2007 Dec 13.


According to evolutionary psychology, the preference for some facial characteristics reflects adaptations for mate choice because they signal aspects of mate quality. Although morphological features such as facial symmetry and sexually dimorphic traits have been studied extensively in recent years, little is known about skin condition in this context. The preferences for young and healthy looking skin could offer an explanation as to why women place such an importance on the condition of their skin and its refinement through e.g., cosmetic products. Recent research showed that facial skin colour distribution significantly influences the perception of age and attractiveness of female faces, independent of skin surface topography cues. However, the relative effect of skin colour distribution and topography cues on age and health perception remains to be investigated. We present data showing that both skin colour distribution and skin surface topography cues not only significantly influence the perception of female facial age and health but also convey differential information with regard to the strength of these effects. Our data indicate that skin surface topography cues account for a large proportion of variation in facial age perception, whereas skin colour distribution seems to be a stronger health cue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Cues*
  • Esthetics
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Aging*
  • Skin Pigmentation*
  • Visual Perception*