Research published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior indicates that when it comes to sexual attraction, women are more drawn to men with a healthy skin tone than those with more masculine faces.
In the new study, Ian Stephen, a psychologist with the University of Nottingham in Malaysia, and his colleagues took photos of 34 white and 41 black men’s faces. They then measured the color of the faces and used a special computer program to mathematically compare the shape of the men’s faces to a similar sample of women’s faces from the same populations — thus determining those faces’ masculinity.
The men’s photos were then shown to 32 white and 30 black women, who rated their overall attractiveness — and while the results showed no association between masculinity and attractiveness, there was an association between skin tone and attractiveness.
A previous study conducted by Stephen found “golden” skin is a natural indication of good health and fertility, and that people tend to find such complexions attractive. His new work discovered that although the golden color was very important for women when they rated faces in their own ethnic group, less importance was placed on it when rating men of other ethnicities — suggesting to researchers that the ladies were unable to detect relatively subtle skin color differences in men of other races.
“Our study shows that being healthy may be the best way for men to look attractive,” Stephen told LiveScience. “We know that you can achieve a more healthy-looking skin color by eating more fruit and vegetables, so that would be a good start.”