Home > Sex/Gender Differences, The Face > Looking Older

Looking Older

Gunn et.al. (2009), comparing a number of aged/aging twinned and non-twinned subjects (some of the non-twins were of different ages), have concluded that the primary indicators of aging in women are:

  • skin wrinkling
  • hair graying
  • lip height (measured from the “vermillion border on the philtral crest” (the high points of the upper lips spaced around the philtral groove [below the center of the nose]) to the lowest point on the lower lip – in this case, adjusted for face height due to the use of non-standard distances from face-to-camera in the making of the stimulus photos

These differences are visible in the composite photos below.

Some additional indicators of age are:

  • thinning hair
  • uneven skin tone/pigmented spotting
  • more prominent nasolabial folds (the creases that run from the corners of the nose to the corners of the mouth – primarily resulting from changes in fat deposition associated with aging)
  • possibly: receding hair

Interestingly, heritability analyses of this data indicate that signs of aging in skin are influenced equally by genetic and environmental differences; that lip height, hair graying and recession are primarily influenced by genetic factors; and that hair thinning was influenced primarily by environmental factors.

All-in-all, an interesting study and a solid contribution to the literature on aging with some implications for the psychology of beauty.


  • Subjects are all caucasian/northern european

Wayne Hooke

ResearchBlogging.orgGunn, D., Rexbye, H., Griffiths, C., Murray, P., Fereday, A., Catt, S., Tomlin, C., Strongitharm, B., Perrett, D., Catt, M., Mayes, A., Messenger, A., Green, M., van der Ouderaa, F., Vaupel, J., & Christensen, K. (2009). Why Some Women Look Young for Their Age PLoS ONE, 4 (12) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008021


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