Photo/Illutration Variations in skin gloss are represented in, from left, “matte,” “oily-shiny” and “radiant” facial images. (Provided by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, or NICT)

Scientists said they have identified the brain activities that make people attracted to radiant faces.

The attractiveness of skin gloss has been evaluated based on subjective impressions. But the finding by researchers at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) suggests it is possible to show facial attractiveness in an objective manner by measuring brain activities.

The data from such studies could help to develop cosmetic products and designs.

Gloss is a type of radiance created when light is reflected on a smooth surface. It is believed that living things find gloss attractive because it can represent water needed for survival and determine the juiciness in fruits.

Skin gloss also reflects health conditions.

However, it had been unknown which part of the brain finds the gloss texture attractive.

With the help of cosmetics maker Shiseido Co., the researchers created three different images showing variations in skin textures: “matte,” which is almost without gloss; “oily-shiny,” which looks glossy with sebum; and “radiant,” which looks like skin is radiating from inside.

When the researchers asked women in their 30s and 40s to measure the attractiveness of these images, “radiant” was the most attractive complexion, followed by “oily-shiny” and “matte.”

When the team conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study on 16 participants to measure their brain activities, they found one region became more active when the skin gloss was seen as most attractive. It was a rear area associated with pleasure and other sensations at a level between the eyebrows.

In product development, it is important to see how attractive consumers find the gloss texture of a product. But developers have had no choice but to rely on reports of subjective impressions on the attractiveness.

“Using evaluation techniques based on brain activities, it may be possible to develop imagery and products of highly sensible values,” said chief researcher Yuichi Sakano.

Results of the study were published in the British journal Scientific Reports at: (