What Do People Assume When They Look At Your Face?

Your face is your business card. Researchers point to three facial features that are reliable indicators of health and are what people notice first about your face. Even the untrained eye can distinguish faces that look healthy or unhealthy. It’s part of our intuition to quickly assess the medical condition of each person we meet. Researchers point to three facial features that are reliable indicators of health and what people first notice about your face. It’s natural for even untrained observers to spot these discolorations, which suggests that people have an innate mechanism for assessing the health of others. 

REDNESS: The first facial feature signaling health is redness of the skin. Oxygenated blood is bright red, and this coloration shows up in your face as blood flows through the capillaries of the skin whereas deoxygenated blood has a bluish tinge leaving the skin looking pale.

Disorders such as iron deficiencies and respiratory disease have a negative impact on blood oxygen levels. Short-term illnesses such as colds or the flu can also leave the blood anemic. And of course, certain obvious lifestyle choices have an impact on skin redness. It’s a natural reaction for people to notice redness and subconsciously hold back. After all, you would want to stay away from someone who’s sick. Many of our natural instincts are just that, natural. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

YELLOW: Fruits and veggies that contain carotenoids are antioxidants that support the functioning of the immune system. Diseases of the immune system tend to deplete carotenoids in the body, leaving the skin pale.

Research shows that people find others more attractive when they have a yellowish GLOW rather than a pale tone. No need to break out the yellow foundation, three servings a day of fruits and vegetables lead to noticeable increases in the yellowness of the skin within six weeks. So we can conclude that eating your veggies isn’t just good for you; it actually makes you more attractive! People can detect changes in red or yellow despite levels of melanin in the skin. (Melanin is the dark pigment responsible for the various shades of brown skin coloration that we use as a marker of race or ethnicity). It’s also the pigment in fair-skinned people who become tan from sun exposure. Just to be clear, we are talking about a tone detected in skin, NOT an actual color/race or ethnicity. Side note: studies show that people rate faces attractive when they have a reddish glow rather than when they’re tanned. As if we needed another reason NOT TO TAN. 

Although red and yellow in the skin are signs of good health, excessive redness or yellowness is a sign of POOR health. Thus, faces with oxygenated blood are rated attractive, whereas those with sunburns are not. Likewise, excessive yellow in the skin is a sign of liver disease. C

FAT DEPOSITS: The last facial cue to health unconsciously detected by people when they first notice you is adiposity (aka fat deposits). BMI’s are often inaccurate and because fat deposits in the face typically reflect fat deposits around the rest of the body, research argues that a visual inspection of the face is a better indicator of body fat than BMI.


These three face tests: redness, yellowness, and fatness are advocated to be included as part of a physician’s general assessment during medical exams. Though, it’s acknowledged that some doctors may already do this on an unconscious level.