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Last Updated: Aug 19th, 2006 - 22:18:38

Evolution Channel
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Special Topics : Evolution

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Oestrogen Levels Translate Into Facial Attractiveness
Nov 2, 2005, 22:22, Reviewed by: Dr.

“Women are effectively advertising their general fertility with their faces. Our findings could explain why men universally seem to prefer feminine women’s faces. In evolutionary terms, it makes sense for men to favour feminine fertile women, those that did would have had more babies.”

 
Scientists have found that a woman’s hormones relate to how attractive she is. The researchers at the University of St Andrews, found that women with higher levels of the female sex hormone, oestrogen, have more attractive looking faces.

The new study, led by psychologist Miriam Law Smith, could explain the underlying reason why men prefer women with feminine faces. It is the first study to demonstrate that women’s facial appearance is linked to their underlying health because oestrogen is the hormone which impacts on women’s reproductive health and fertility. These effects on appearance are likely to depend on the action of oestrogen throughout puberty.

Law Smith and a team of psychologists at the University’s Perception Lab photographed 59 young women’s faces aged between 18 and 25 and analysed their sex hormone levels. Women with higher levels of oestrogen were rated as more attractive, healthy and feminine looking than those with lower levels.

Composite faces of the 10 women with highest (left) and 10 with lowest (right) levels of oestrogen. Credit: www.perceptionlab.com


Interestingly, no relationship between appearance and oestrogen was found in women wearing make-up. Researchers believe that while make-up improves facial appearance it may be masking cues normally seen in the face.

Law Smith said: “Women are effectively advertising their general fertility with their faces. Our findings could explain why men universally seem to prefer feminine women’s faces. In evolutionary terms, it makes sense for men to favour feminine fertile women, those that did would have had more babies.”
 

- The research is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.
 

www.st-andrews.ac.uk

 
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