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What Makes a Face Beautiful?

The Secret to a Beautiful Face

The secret to a beautiful face has been a quest for humans since antiquity. Many women spend up to $12,000 on average annually on beauty products and grooming to enhance their beauty. Studies have shown that there's a significant wage disparity between the beautiful and the average woman. A Federal Reserve study has shown that exceptionally attractive women tend to earn more money per hour than their Plain Jane counterparts. Unfortunately, this "plainness penalty" and "beauty premium" exist across all occupations, including lawyers. So what makes someone's face beautiful?

Florence Colgate "Most Beautiful Face per Science" (Photograph courtesy of

Note: Florence Colgate indeed has a very attractive face and fits the golden ratio. However, there's still some asymmetry with her face, such as the left nasolabial fold is higher on the left with smiling and the small asymmetry of the nose. So does she have a perfect face? ~Dr. De La Cruz

The Study of BeautyExtensive research has been conducted on the analysis of beauty. This has shown that whether you're Asian or European, the idea of what constitutes an attractive face is very similar. What defines a beautiful face transcends racial boundaries. Thus, there's a common element of what constitutes beautiful across all ethnicities. The ancient Greeks believed that all beauty is based on mathematics, as exemplified by Venus de Milo.

Venus de Milo (Photograph Courtesy of

The beauty of a face was studied mathematically since the 5th century BC by the Greek sculptor, Polykleitos. Through a system of ideal mathematical proportions, Polykleitos developed a set of aesthetic principles and wrote a treatise called the "canon".

  • The ideal distance between the eyes should be equal to the width of the nose.

  • The length of the ears should be equal to the length of the nose.

Doutzen Kroes (Photograph Courtesy of

Greek sculptors also believed that the relationship between many pairs of measurement, such as the lips, should be equal to the "Golden ratio" (φ), which is approximately equal to 1.618. This is exemplified of what constitutes a beautiful lipwith an upper to lower lip ratio of 1:1.618.

The Golden Ratio/Mask of Megan Fox (Photograph Courtesy of

Golden Ratio of some of the Beautiful People (Photograph courtesy of

Facial Features Identified on a Beautiful Face

  • Facial shape (chin, cheeks)

  • Facial Symmetry

  • Eyebrow Shape

  • Eye size

  • Nose shape

  • Lips

  • Skin texture

Traits Having the Greatest Effect on Facial Attractiveness

  • Narrow jaw, short chin and lips close to the nose

  • Large eyes

  • Thick lips

Facial Symmetry and Beauty

There is a significant correlation between a symmetric face and beauty. It has been shown that a symmetrical face is a sign of good health and genetic quality. Several studies have shown that the perceived age can be lowered when facial asymmetry is improved. With aging, any facial asymmetry present becomes more pronounced as revealed by one study on patients who were about to undergo a facelift. Prior to surgery, all patients were found to have asymmetry in their facial features which was improved after surgery.

The Ideal Beautiful Cheeks

One of the features of a beautiful face in a woman is a pronounced cheek bone with narrow cheeks. The ideal beautiful cheek has been found to be oval, not round. It is also angled which extends from the angle of the mouth to the base of the helix of the ear.

Ideal Cheek of Angelina Jolie (Photograph courtesy of

That Beautiful Smile

A beautiful smile says a lot about a face. Facial expressions that show interest and kindliness, such that of a smile, increase facial attractiveness in both males and females. Smiles that show a lot of white teeth (incisor display) was found to be more attractive and youthful in women. With aging, there is a gradual reduction of the display of the upper teeth (upper central incisors) and a gradual increase of the display of the lower teeth. Increased upper incisor display not only is aesthetically pleasing but also is a sign of youth.

(Photograph courtesy of

The Beautiful Lip

Having fuller lips, like that of Angelina Jolie, have been considered a desirable trait. A study has shown that female models who are selected in the fashion industry, in general, have fuller lips (upper and lower) than ordinary women. Several studies have also shown that men preferred women with thick and prominent lips. Over the past several years, there has been an increasing number of women who are seeking lip augmentation to achieve that sought after look of having voluptuous lips.

The Ideal Beautiful Brow

As many women would know, the eyebrows bring attention to the eyes and help frame the face. This is evidenced by the ubiquitous plucking, waxing, threading and tattooing of eyebrows by women across all ethnic backgrounds. So what is the ideal eye brow? The youthful and beautiful brow is typically arched at the junction of the medial 2/3 and outer 1/3 of the eyebrow. The lateral tip of a beautiful brow should be higher than the medial tip of the brow. Any alteration of this brow pattern, such as found in an incorrect Botox injection, will have an unnatural and less attractive appearance.

Megan Fox (Photograph Courtesy of

Stay tuned for more about the Secret of a Beautiful Face.... Page 2

Taylor Swift: Is there a Secret to a Beautiful Nose? (Photograph from Wikimedia Commons by Angela George)

Recommended articles:

1) Dimples, Dimples, Dimples.... How to Get Dimples? 2) Fine Art Behind Facial Fat Transfer 3) The Secret to a Beautiful Lip Emmanuel De La Cruz, M.D., PLLC The Woodlands Plastic Surgeon References: Arthur Swift's "Beautiphication". Aesthetic Surgery Society Meeting 2010. Baudouin J, and G. Tiberghien. Symmetry, Averageness, and Feature Size in the Facial Attractiveness of Women. Acta Psychol. 117:313-332

Biddle, Jeff E. and Hamermesh, Daniel S. “Beauty, Productivity, and Discrimination: Lawyers’Looks and Lucre.” Journal of Labor Economics. 1998, January; (16);1:172-201. Da Motta, et al. Display of the incisors as functions of age and gender. Australian Orthodontic Journal. 2010. 26(1): 27-32

Engemann, Kristie and Michael Owyang. So Much for That Merit Raise: The Link between Wages and Appearance. The Regional Economist. April 2005. Johnston VS, and M. Franklin. Is Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder. Ethol. Sociobiol.1993;14:183-199

Mickiwicz, Adam. Facial Attractiveness: General Patterns of Facial Preferences.Anthropological Review. 2007; (70): 45-79 Rohrich, et al. The Individualized Component Facelift: Developing a Systematic Approach to Facial Rejuvenation. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 2009. 123:1050-1063

Valentine, et al. Why are average faces attractive? The effect of view and averageness on the attractiveness of female faces. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 2004 Jun;11(3):482-7.

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