Hair colour and skin colour together influence perceptions of age, health and attractiveness in lightly pigmented young women.

Abstract: Objective: Research documents that even subtle changes in visible skin condition affect perceptions of age, health and attractiveness. There is evidence that hair quality also affects the assessment of physical appearance, as variations in hair diameter, hair density and hairstyle have systematic effects on perception. Here, we consider combined effects of hair colour and skin colour on the perception of female physical appearance. Methods: In two experiments, we digitally manipulated facial skin colour of lightly pigmented, young women, both between‐subjects (Experiment 1) and within‐subjects (Experiment 2), and investigated possible interactions with hair colour in regard to age, health, and attractiveness perception. Results: In both experiments, we detected hair colour and skin colour interaction effects on men's and women's assessments. For between‐subjects comparisons, participants with lighter hair colour were judged to be younger than those with darker shades; this effect was more pronounced in women with light skin colour. No such effect was observed for within‐subjects variation in skin colour. Both experiments showed that smaller perceived contrast between hair colour and skin colour resulted in more positive responses. Conclusion: We conclude that hair colour and facial skin colour together have an effect on perceptions of female age, health, and attractiveness in young women, and we discuss these findings with reference to the literature on the role of hair and skin in the assessment of female physical appearance.

Published in: International Journal of Cosmetic Science Vol. 40; no. 3; pp. 303 - 313
Main Authors: Fink, B., Liebner, K., Müller, A.‐K., Hirn, T., McKelvey, G., Lankhof, J.
Format: Article
Published: Wiley-Blackwell Jun2018
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Summary: Abstract: Objective: Research documents that even subtle changes in visible skin condition affect perceptions of age, health and attractiveness. There is evidence that hair quality also affects the assessment of physical appearance, as variations in hair diameter, hair density and hairstyle have systematic effects on perception. Here, we consider combined effects of hair colour and skin colour on the perception of female physical appearance. Methods: In two experiments, we digitally manipulated facial skin colour of lightly pigmented, young women, both between‐subjects (Experiment 1) and within‐subjects (Experiment 2), and investigated possible interactions with hair colour in regard to age, health, and attractiveness perception. Results: In both experiments, we detected hair colour and skin colour interaction effects on men's and women's assessments. For between‐subjects comparisons, participants with lighter hair colour were judged to be younger than those with darker shades; this effect was more pronounced in women with light skin colour. No such effect was observed for within‐subjects variation in skin colour. Both experiments showed that smaller perceived contrast between hair colour and skin colour resulted in more positive responses. Conclusion: We conclude that hair colour and facial skin colour together have an effect on perceptions of female age, health, and attractiveness in young women, and we discuss these findings with reference to the literature on the role of hair and skin in the assessment of female physical appearance.