Women with ‘rosy glow’ look healthiest

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  • A red hue equals healthy oxygenated blood

    Women may be onto something when they reach for the blusher – people really do think healthy females should display a rosy glow, a study suggests.

    A team at the University of St Andrews asked a series of volunteers to digitally enhance photographs of men and women to make them look healthy.

    The results, published in the journal PLoS One, found all participants added more red to the skin of their subjects. But the female faces received more colour than their male counterparts.

    This colouring was given preference over slightly bluer deoxygenated blood, which is travelling back to the heart. Those who are physically well tend to have more oxygenated blood. Although the difference between the colours of the two sorts of blood is subtle, researchers said they were surprised at the participants’ ability to register it.

    There was no difference between male and female participants in the colour they gave to the faces. ‘But that does not mean there isn’t a sexual basis to this,’ said lead researcher Ian Stephen of the University of St Andrews.

    ‘Women are perfectly capable of judging the attractiveness of other women, and from an evolutionary perspective need to do so if they are to effectively assess the competition.’

    The researchers recommended you increase your levels of exercise or give up smoking as one way of boosting your rosy hue, and thus your level of attractiveness.

    George Fieldman, a London-based cognitive behavioural therapist said colour was likely to be key in any decision to pick a mate. ‘If you are looking for long-term partner you want to get some indication of whether they are likely to stick around,’ he said.


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