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Age is in the eye of the beholder

Article-Age is in the eye of the beholder

Facial appearance does not always reflect the true chronological age of a person, as certain facial features may make an individual appear younger or older than they really are. A recent study investigating which facial attributes influence an individual's perceived age found that the appearance of the eye area, lips and skin color uniformity are the main, influencing facial features. These new insights could affect the order of importance of skin rejuvenation techniques you offer to your patients and which aspects of aging facial skin should be addressed first.

The Study
In the study, headed by Alex Nkengne, Ph.D. at Johnson and Johnson Consumer France, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, 173 women 20 to 74 years of age were randomly chosen from a database of more than 5,000 healthy white women. Portrait photographs were taken of each participant from which facial skin attributes were visually assessed and the perceived age of the subjects estimated by 48 trained graders (20 men and 28 women, 20 to 64 years of age). These trained graders were classified as young (less than 35 years), middle age (35 to 50 years) and seniors (older than 50 years). Partial least square regression models were used to predict the chronological and the perceived age from the measured individual facial attributes. The contribution of each attribute within the regression model enabled the researchers to measure the relevance of the individual attributes with regard to age prediction.

Study results showed that the two main influencing features of perceived age were the eye area and the uniformity of skin color. Also, when predicting participant age, female graders more than male graders and younger graders more than senior graders appeared to be more accurate in their estimations.

The skin attributes, including wrinkling, sagging, color and texture, were evaluated using a visual analogue scale. With respect to these parameters, the investigators found that the importance of nasolabial folds, dark circles, bags under the eyes, skin color and uniformity and brown spots decrease with the graders' age, whereas the importance of frown lines, crow's feet wrinkles and eyes opening increases with graders' age.

According to the results, the investigators conclude that it is possible that age perception is highly influenced by the lips (lip volume, upper lip wrinkles), eye area (crow's feet, lower lid wrinkles) and skin tone (bags under the eyes, brown spots, skin color uniformity).

Aesthetic Importance
Understanding which facial skin attributes have the greatest impact on an observer's perception of age can be instrumental in choosing the most effective rejuvenation technique for a specific aging facial feature. As an individual's physical appearance has come to play a major role in modern society and can have a far reaching rippling effect in social circles and interactions, knowledge of this kind will aid practitioners of modern aesthetic medicine offer more targeted solutions to cosmetic patients. CST

Nkengne A, Bertin C, Stamatas GN. Influence of facial skin attributes on the perceived age of Caucasian women. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venerol. 2008; 22:982-991.

For more information
Alex Nkengne Ph.D.
[email protected]

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