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Women's skin tone influences perception of beauty, health and age

Cincinnati, OH (October 24, 2006) -- A new study is revealing that wrinkles aren't the only cue the human eye looks for to evaluate age. Facial skin color distribution, or tone, can add 10-12 years to a woman's perceived age.

The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, used three-dimensional imaging and morphing software to remove wrinkles and furrows from pictures of women, leaving skin tone as the only variable. Researchers were then able to determine exactly what impact facial skin tone has on how young, healthy and attractive people perceive the women to be. Faces with more even skin tone were judged to be younger.

"Until now, behavioral scientists have mostly ignored the overall homogeneity and color saturation of a person's skin," says lead researcher Dr. Karl Grammer. "This study points out that wrinkles aren't the only visual cue to a woman's age.

"Skin tone and luminosity may be a major signal to suitors of a woman's attractiveness, as well as of her assumed age," said Grammer, who is founder and scientific director of the Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute for Urban Ethology at the University of Vienna, Austria.

The researchers took digital photographs of 169 Caucasian women between the ages of 10 and 70. Then they used specialized morphing software to "drape" each subject's facial skin over a standardized model, in effect, taking 169 different skin tones and applying them to a common canvas.

In the process, other potential age-defining features such as facial furrows, lines and wrinkles were removed, leaving skin tone as the only variable. Then, these models were viewed by 430 observers who were asked to estimate each model's age and gauge her health and attractiveness.

The models who had the most even skin tone received significantly higher ratings for attractiveness and health, and were also judged to be younger in age. The models with uneven, blotch
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Contact: Shirley Johnson
Shirley.Johnson@mslpr.com
212-468-3292
Manning Selvage & Lee
24-Oct-2006


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