Neural activity associated with enhanced facial attractiveness by cosmetics use

Aya Ueno, Ayahito Ito, Iori Kawasaki, Yousuke Kawachi, Kazuki Yoshida, Yui Murakami, Shinya Sakai, Toshio Iijima, Yoshihiko Matsue, Toshikatsu Fujii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Previous psychological studies have shown that make-up enhances facial attractiveness. Although neuroimaging evidence indicates that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) shows greater activity for faces of attractive people than for those of unattractive people, there is no direct evidence that the OFC also shows greater activity for the face of an individual wearing make-up than for the same face without make-up. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated neural activity while subjects viewed 144 photographs of the same faces with and without make-up (48 with make-up, 48 without make-up, and 48 scrambled photographs) and assigned these faces an attractiveness rating. The behavioral data showed that the faces with make-up were rated as more attractive than those without make-up. The imaging data revealed that the left OFC and the right hippocampus showed greater activity for faces with make-up than for those without make-up. Furthermore, the activities of the right anterior cingulate cortex, left hippocampus, and left OFC increased with increasing facial attractiveness resulting from cosmetics use. These results provide direct evidence of the neural underpinnings of cosmetically enhanced facial attractiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-146
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Apr 30


  • Cosmetics
  • Facial attractiveness
  • FMRI
  • Make-up
  • Orbitofrontal cortex


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