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Skin Coloring Shown to Affect a Person's Attractiveness

Posted: November 25, 2009

U.K. researchers have shown how people associate attractiveness with healthy-looking skin.

Researchers from the universities of Bristol and St. Andrews in the United Kingdom have found that the color of a person's skin affects how healthy, and therefore attractive, they appear, and have found that diet may be crucial to achieving the most desirable complexion. The work will be published in the December issue of Springer's International Journal of Primatology.

Using specialist computer software, a total of 54 Caucasian participants of both sexes were asked to manipulate the skin color of male and female Caucasian faces to make them look as healthy as possible. They chose to increase the rosiness, yellowness and brightness of the skin.

"Most previous work on faces has focused on the shape of the face or the texture of the skin, but one of the most variable characteristics of the face is skin color," said Dr. Ian Stephen, who is now at the University of Bristol. "We knew from our previous work that people who have more blood and more oxygen color in their skins looked healthy, and so we decided to see what other colors affect health perceptions. This has given us some clues as to what other skin pigments may relate to a healthy appearance."

Skin that is slightly flushed with blood and full of oxygen suggests a strong heart and lungs, supporting the study's findings that rosier skin appeared healthy. Smokers and people with diabetes or heart disease have fewer blood vessels in their skin, and so skin would appear less rosy.