Nutrition beats a tan in the quest for healthy glow

Eating a nutrient-rich diet is more likely to make you appear attractive than a tan, according to scientists.

A study carried out by Carmen Lefevre of the University of Leeds and David Perrett of the University of St Andrews found that skin with high carotenoid colouration – the healthy glow that results from eating colourful vegetables such as broccoli and spinach – was deemed more attractive than tanned skin, highlighting the benefits of a 360-degree approach to beauty that includes nutrition.

Lefevre and Perrett showed 60 participants 24 pairs of digitally created faces, where one in each pair had high carotenoid complexion and the other had a high melanin complexion. The faces with high carotenoid levels were judged more attractive in 76% of cases.

The study, which was published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, said, “When high carotenoid and high melanin faces were pitched against each other in attractiveness judgement, participants showed strong preferences for the high carotenoid over the high melanin face.”  

However, tanning pros need not fear as the study also concluded that tanned skin was till deemed far more attractive than the pasty look. “Skin yellowness contributes to an attractive appearance and is influenced by both dietary carotenoids and by melanin,” it said.