Is the Fountain of Youth Simpler Than We Thought?

What if, instead of relying on anti-wrinkle creams, you could achieve a more youthful appearance with some makeup application? Could enhancing your lips and eyes really take any years off of your appearance? It’s possible, according to a study published in the Frontiers of Psychology.

The study was performed by a team of French and American researchers, the perception of a woman appearing younger depending on how much her features stand out—also known as “facial contrast”—holds true across all cultures. In particular, the study shows that women appear more youthful when their lips, eyebrows, and eyes stand out.

Facial contrast is something that decreases with age in women all around the world. Because of this, it’s not just wrinkles appearing that is the main sign of aging. Our facial features can actually fade as we get older—with lips, eyebrows, and eyes becoming duller and less prominent.

In previous studies, facial contrast has shown to be related to how individuals perceive femininity and health. However, those studies looked at Caucasian faces viewed by other Caucasians. In this latest study, researchers wanted to see how we view faces across ethnic and cultural lines.

After gathering images of digitally measuring the degree of facial contrast of four groups of women (Latin American, Chinese Asian, French Caucasian, and South African), the researchers evaluated responses from within the same ethnic groups and among those from other cultures. By showing the participants two photos: one with low contrast and one with high contrast, the high contrast face was chosen as the younger ones nearly 80 percent of the time. Neither the culture of the woman in the picture nor the participant altered results.

With this study, individuals may be able to have more control over how old they look by highlighting, darkening, or coloring different features.

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