Aspects of facial contrast, a measure of how much facial features stand out in the face, decrease with age in women across a variety of ethnic groups, finds a study in open access journal Frontiers in Psychology. The study also shows that observers perceive women with increased facial contrast as younger, regardless of the ethnic background of the women or the observers. This suggests that facial contrast is a cross-cultural cue to age perception.
Our age can influence how other people see and treat us. For many people, maintaining a youthful appearance is important, as they perceive this as more attractive and a sign of health. But what makes one face look older than another? Some signs of aging, such as wrinkles, are well-known and common across different ethnicities, but others are less understood.
A French research team, in collaboration with American researchers, have discovered one such aspect of aging—facial contrast.
“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,” says Aurélie Porcheron, a researcher involved in the study.