Created on: March 19, 2013 Last Updated: March 20, 2013
While makeup companies peddling for sales might like to suggest that their particular makeup tool will help make women appear younger, there actually might be some truth behind their claims (albeit not for the reasons they so frequently cite). New research suggests that makeup is valuable in improving the “signals that people unconsciously use to decipher how old someone looks,” according to
In a study of nearly 300 women’s faces that ranged from 20 to 70, scientists learned that the brain subconsciously uses contrast to determine how old someone is. As women age, their features become less defined from their surrounding skin. As a result, when a woman uses makeup such as lipstick to make her lips appear more red, she is perceived to be younger than the same woman without any makeup.
Study on facial perception
Psychology Professor Richard Russell, together with the Epidermal and Sensory Research and Investigation Center (CERIES), has been studying the “contrasting nature of facial features” as one of the determinants of age, according to Medical Xpress.
A professor at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, Russell worked with study participants in both Gettysburg and Paris (in partnership with Chanel). He found that his study “lends evidence to the idea that makeup use reflects our biological as well as our cultural heritage.” In contrast to an aging sign like wrinkles, Russell noted, most people are unaware that they are even using the feature of contrast to judge age.
In his study, Russell discovered that “through the aging process, the color of the lips, eyes and eyebrows change, while the skin becomes darker. This results in less contrast between the features and the surrounding skin – leaving older faces to have less contrast than younger faces,” according to Medical Xpress.
When he artificially manipulated images of women to provide more contrast, the women were judged as younger, while the manipulation of those same images to provide less contrast found that the respondents judged the woman to be older. Cosmetics are used to heighten contrast, whether making the eyes more noticeable with shadow and mascara or the lips more distinctive by adding color through lipstick or gloss.
Changes from aging
Healthiness and beauty are associated with this contrast in faces, which occur naturally in a younger person, but may need enhancement with age. According to the “Daily Mail” newspaper in London, Dr. Russell noted, “We found that the redness of the lips decreases with ageing, but the skin that surrounds the lips actually becomes more red, so the redness contrast between lips and the rest of the face decreases with age and that certainly is something that can be manipulated with makeup.” He noted similar changes occurred in the eye and eyebrow area generally.
While women may be unaware of these subtle changes in themselves, those who see them get unconscious clues about their age from these changes. While the makeup that provides contrast can’t physically prevent the natural physical process of aging, it can help change the perception of others.
Learn more about this author, Christine Zibas.
Click here to send this author comments or questions.
Below are the top articles rated and ranked by Helium members on:
Research suggests why makeup might make women look younger
Cast your vote!
Click for your side.