Facial Contrast Makes Women Look Younger, Study Finds

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. pigmented / ˈpɪg mən tɪd / (adj) – deeply colored

    The lipstick was so pigmented that I couldn’t wash off the stain it left on my dress.

  2. symmetry / ˈsɪm ɪ tri / (n) – the state of having equal measurements

    Symmetry is an indicator of good design in a product.

  3. intuitively / ɪnˈtu ɪ tɪv li / (adv) – in an unconscious manner

    Most people intuitively perceive tall individuals as attractive.

  4. subtly / ˈsʌt li / (adv) – hard to notice

    The twins’ features were only subtly different, so it was hard to tell them apart.

  5. parallel / ˈpær əˌlɛl, -ləl / (adj) – being in the same direction

    The store is parallel with the street.


Read the text below.

A study has found that facial contrast is a major factor in one’s perception of a person’s age.

A group of French and American researchers hypothesized that the correlation between facial contrast and aging remains the same across different ethnicities.

To test this hypothesis, the researchers analyzed images of women aged 20 to 80 of different ethnicities, such as Chinese Asians, Latin Americans, and French Caucasians, using a computer software to measure different facial contrast indicators. Facial contrast pertains to how much the eyes, lips, and eyebrows stand out based on how light, dark, or pigmented they are.

Findings showed that despite some minor differences, certain factors involved in facial contrast declined with age across the four groups of female subjects. For instance, contrast around the mouth and eyebrows were found to decrease in the older women.

The study also determined whether or not people from different cultures use the same signals when perceiving one’s age. French and Chinese male and female volunteers were shown two computer-generated photographs of women from the same ethnic groups: the first with a high contrast and the second with a low contrast. The volunteers unconsciously perceived the photo with a high facial contrast as young 80% of the time.

Aside from facial contrast, facial symmetry and its implications on people’s perceptions have also been explored. A study revealed that people with symmetrical faces are intuitively perceived as more attractive than those with subtly asymmetrical faces. This implies that faces are considered attractive when their left and right sides are parallel or mirror each other.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with the findings of the studies? Why or why not?
• What industries place a high value on youthfulness and attractiveness? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Is maintaining your physical appearance a top priority in your life? Why or why not?
• What are some measures people take to look younger than they are? Discuss.