Visual attention to variation in female facial skin color distribution

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2008 Jun;7(2):155-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2008.00382.x.


Objectives: Visible skin condition of women is argued to influence human physical attraction. Recent research has shown that people are sensitive to variation in skin color distribution, and such variation affects visual perception of female facial attractiveness, healthiness, and age.

Methods: The eye gaze of 39 males and females, aged 13 to 45 years, was tracked while they viewed images of shape- and topography-standardized stimulus faces that varied only in terms of skin color distribution.

Results: The number of fixations and dwell time were significantly higher when viewing stimulus faces with the homogeneous skin color distribution of young people, compared with those of more elderly people. In accordance with recent research, facial stimuli with even skin tones were also judged to be younger and received higher attractiveness ratings. Finally, visual attention measures were negatively correlated with perceived age, but positively associated with attractiveness judgments.

Conclusions: Variation in visible skin color distribution (independent of facial form and skin surface topography) is able to selectively attract people's attention toward female faces, and this higher attention results in more positive statements about a woman's face.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention
  • Beauty*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Eye Movements*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Photography
  • Skin Pigmentation*
  • Visual Perception