Facial ageing in South African adult males

Estha J. Schmidlin, Maryna Steyn, Tobias M. R. Houlton, Nanette Briers (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Knowledge of facial ageing is important in forensic facial approximation and photo identification. Previous studies mostly investigated facial ageing in European faces, and this research therefore aims to provide data on patterns of facial ageing in an African sample. One hundred eighty-nine black South African males aged 20 years and older were photographed in anterior and lateral views. Facial images were captured in a consistent position by using a Canon EOS 1300D camera and 18- to 55-mm EFS lens. Thirty individuals per decade were included, with the 80+ age category being limited to only nine participants. A facial ageing scoring system, based on previous research, was constructed for non-metric age changes such as appearance of wrinkles and sagging around the orbital area. Metric age changes such as ear lengthening and lip thinning were investigated separately. Results indicate that the ageing process in black South Africans has both similarities and differences to senescence described for European populations. Although most ageing features showed unidirectional change during time, these changes often occurred at a variable rate. Some features did not show a clear change with increasing age – these include mouth width increase, nasal elongation, nasal tip dropping, ear width increase and ear length increase. In addition to the age-feature correlations, an average face per decade was developed using Abrosoft FantaMorph Deluxe software. This provides a visual approximation of male South African faces captured at a single moment in time, as an aid for craniofacial depictions and facial image ageing in forensic practise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-286
Number of pages10
JournalForensic Science International
Early online date18 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Average face
  • Facial ageing
  • Facial crease
  • South African
  • Wrinkle formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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