Effects of Lip Color on Perceived Lightness of Human Facial Skin.

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Whereas geometric illusions in human faces have been reported by several studies, illusions of color or lightness in faces have seldom been explored. Here, we psychophysically investigated whether lip color influences facial skin's perceived lightness. Results of Experiment 1 demonstrated that redder lips lightened and darker lips darkened the perceived complexion. These lightness or darkness inducing effects differ from the classical illusion of lightness contrast in nonface objects for two reasons. First, illusory effects are more assimilative than contrastive. Second, the inducing area (i.e., lips) is much smaller than the influenced area (facial skin). Experiment 2 showed that the assimilative lightness induction was caused by holistic processing of faces. This is the first study to scientifically substantiate the claim of cosmetics manufacturers and makeup artists that lip colors can alter perceived facial skin color. Implications for face perception, lightness illusion, and perceptual effects of cosmetics are discussed.

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