Whether it’s fair or not, we all make assumptions and judgments based on appearances.

A study commissioned by scientists in the U.S. using some of the latest eye-tracking technology revealed some interesting things about the impact that healthy, shiny and beautiful hair has on the positive perceptions of women by others. What was ultimately revealed is that there really is such a thing as a “bad hair” day!

The Proof: Eye-Tracking

Eye-tracking technology is fascinating. The eye-tracking machine employs two light emitting sources, operating at 50HZ in the infrared spectra, and a sophisticated camera to measure light reflected from the pupils of a person as he or she looks at something, like beautiful hair. With this technology, scientists are able to observe unconscious behaviors and track people’s eye plots and gaze times when looking at hair—whether it be beautiful hair or not. And where people’s eyes really look reveals their true opinions.

How the Study Was Conducted

To conduct this eye-tracking study, Pantene Pro-V scientists gathered a random selection of seven women. The women were photographed before the study, using controlled lighting and camera focal length, first with “bad hair” i.e. not washed, brushed or styled; and secondly with “beautiful hair” i.e. hair washed and styled using Pantene Pro-V hair care products. The women’s facial expressions and makeup were closely controlled to ensure consistency in both before and after photos. The participants were assessed, pre and post hair styling (with bad hair and beautiful hair) and from a front and back view, for hair and facial attractiveness by a panel of 36 men and women.

The Impact of Bad Hair

Before washing and styling with Pantene Pro-V, the participants with long hair were given an average age rating of 29.5 years. However, after washing and styling with Pantene Pro-V, for beautiful hair that contrasts with their previous “bad hair,” the women were given a younger average age of 25.8 years - a difference of over four years. But the impact of bad hair doesn’t end there. The eye-tracker also revealed the extent to which people ascribe personality traits purely on physical appearance, like beautiful hair. For example, bad hair attracted responses that related to the participants’ personalities, such as “laziness,” “can’t be bothered,” “hasn’t been taken care of,” “wild,” “unmanageable,” and “looks like she was in a hurry.”

In addition, the eye-tracker illustrated that when hair is unkempt, that’s where the eye lingers—simply on the negative spots—like flyaways, frizz, kinks in hair and dry ends. But in the beautiful hair shots, when hair was clean, shiny and styled, the eye focused on the face and the bands of shine around the crown of the head of the participant. This shows that bad hair distracts the eye, but when a person has beautiful hair, the eye focuses on the positive attributes of the face. And who wants to look 4.1 years older just for having bad hair?

The Glory of Beautiful Hair

While bad hair elicited less than flattering comments about the women’s age and personalities, beautiful hair garnered comments such as “beautiful hair makes a girl more attractive,” “she looks more professional,” and “she’s someone who cares about her looks.” In this way beautiful hair allows a woman’s best assets and personality traits to shine through. It is evident that the face, when combined with healthy-looking, beautiful hair, takes on a new composition and balance, is more pleasing to the eye and is perceived as being more attractive.

So what is the real take-away from the study in regard to your crowning glory? Eye-tracking research demonstrates that hair is a critical factor in how women are physically perceived by others, and suggests that when a woman has: healthy-looking, beautiful hair, others see her as not only younger and more beautiful on the outside but also as having a strong and beautiful personality on the inside. It also proves the old adage of “having a good hair day,” which has always referred to a positive outlook and philosophy and not just beautiful hair. Pantene Pro-V offers you the tools to maximize your true potential!