When women’s facial features stand out more, they look younger, new research finds.
What the researchers call ‘facial contrast’, was linked to an appearance of youth, regardless of ethnic group.
Naturally, people’s facial features merge into each other with age.
Ms Aurélie Porcheron, the study’s first author, said:
“Facial contrast refers to how much the eyes, lips and eyebrows stand out in the face in terms of how light or dark they are or how colorful they are.”
Higher facial contrast has also been previously linked to looking more healthy and more feminine.
This is the first study to test the effect on Caucasian women as well as those from other ethnic groups.
The researchers included Chinese Asian women, Latin American women, South African women and French Caucasian women.
Women were aged between 20 and 80 years old.
The researchers showed digitally manipulated photos to people and asked them to judge who was younger.
The photo with the higher facial contrast was picked as the younger face 80% of the time.
Ms Porcheron said:
“People of different cultures use facial contrast as a cue for perceiving age from the face, even though they are not consciously aware of it.
The results also suggest that people could actively modify how old they look, by altering how much their facial features stand out, for example by darkening or coloring their features.”
Ms Porcheron is currently the head of research at Chanel, the cosmetics manufacturer.
No need to wonder why Chanel might be interested in this psychological finding.
The study’s authors conclude:
“Because cosmetics were shown to enhance facial contrast, this work provides some support for the notion that a universal function of cosmetics is to make female faces look younger.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology (Porcheron et al., 2017).