Health

Social Experiment Nails How Looks Can Be Deceiving When It Comes to Age

"Can you guess if someone is over the age of 21 just by looking at them?"

That's a question that was explored in a video called "Bartenders Guess Who Is Underage" by Cut Video where they asked five bartenders to guess the ages of a group of men and women.

The bartenders did not do well.

They were asked to guess if the men and women were underage based solely on their appearance.

guessing age of man

Majority of bartenders guessed this man was over 21 years old.

His actual age: 20.

guessing age

Majority of bartenders guessed: under 21.

Actual age: 24.

guessing age

Majority of bartenders guessed: over 21.

Actual age: 19.

guessing age

Majority of bartenders guessed: under 21.

Actual age: 18.

guessing age

Majority of bartenders guessed: over 21.

Actual age: 24.

guessing age

Majority of bartenders guessed: over 21.

Actual age: 20.

guessing age

Majority of bartenders guessed: over 21.

Actual age: 28.

guessing age

Majority of bartenders guessed: under 21.

Actual age: 15.

guessing age

Majority of bartenders guessed: over 21.

Actual age: 19.

What were some things the bartenders thought exposed the participants ages?

Skin was one thing that came up, as in, "she has really good skin," which is why one bartender guessed the first 24-year-old woman was underage. Or a sign of a wrinkle and 5 o'clock shadow on the 20-year-old man led bartenders to believe he was older.

Sometimes, it was something the bartenders couldn't even explain. Of the 28-year-old, one bartender explained he knew she was over 21 because, "she looks like she's seen some shit."

The way the participants carried themselves also gave the bartenders information — sometimes false. Many bartenders thought the first 19-year-old was older because they thought she "seemed mature" and "had confidence."

But ultimately, it simply came down to how old they did (or didn't) look.

Skin really does play a part.

As we age, our skin loses collagen, which is a protein found in our skin that keeps our skin supple and firm. But, as Dr. Ananya Mandal, M.D. wrote for News Medical Life Sciences, "with age, collagen production slows and the cells structures weaken. The skin gets thinner and is easier to damage, hair gets lifeless, skin sags and wrinkles [...]"

So as we age, we lose collagen. But men and women's skin isn't equal.

Men and women age differently in part because their skin is different.

Men's skin is typically thicker than women's, according to Dr. Diana Howard for The International Derma Institute, writing, "[A]ndrogens (i.e. testosterone), which cause an increase in skin thickness, accounts for why a man’s skin is about 25 percent thicker than that of a woman’s. A man’s skin also thins gradually with age, whereas the thickness of a woman’s skin remains constant until about the age of fifty."

Dr. Howard notes, "regardless of age, men have a higher collagen density than women; this is the ratio of collagen to the thickness of the skin." And this collagen density would be the key to why men and women age differently: "Researchers believe that the higher collagen density accounts for why women appear to age faster than men of the same age."

This is why smoking tends to age people.

For all the obvious reasons about why you shouldn't smoke cigarettes, another one is that smokers are more prone to wrinkling with age than non-smokers. Smoking has a direct affect on your skin.

As dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi explained to Allure magazine, "smoking causes an acceleration of the aging process in skin through a number of mechanisms, only some of which are known. Reduced oxygenation and the damaging effects of the materials in the smoke itself are well-known causes."

CNN reported in 2013 on a study done in Ohio that compared twins: those who smoked vs. who didn't. Though the twins were of course the same age, the smoking twins tended to look older than the non-smoking ones.

smoking twins

Bottom line? If you want to age as gently as possible, take good care of your skin.

And try not to look like you've "seen some shit."