December 29, 2009
Facial Proportions Key For Facial Beauty

Ideal beauty down to facial proportions.

TORONTO, ON Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder but also in the relationship of the eyes and mouth of the beholden. The distance between a woman's eyes and the distance between her eyes and her mouth are key factors in determining how attractive she is to others, according to new psychology research from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Toronto.

Pamela Pallett and Stephen Link of UC San Diego and Kang Lee of the University of Toronto tested the existence of an ideal facial feature arrangement. They successfully identified the optimal relation between the eyes, the mouth and the edge of the face for individual beauty.

In four separate experiments, the researchers asked university students to make paired comparisons of attractiveness between female faces with identical facial features but different eye-mouth distances and different distances between the eyes.

They discovered two "golden ratios," one for length and one for width. Female faces were judged more attractive when the vertical distance between their eyes and the mouth was approximately 36 percent of the face's length, and the horizontal distance between their eyes was approximately 46 percent of the face's width.

You can see from this one of the limits to beauty enhancement from plastic surgery today. Even if we had stem cell therapies, gene therapies, interference RNA therapies, and other means to totally rejuvenate the face changing facial proportions is another level of problem that involves cutting into bones to shorten and extend bone lengths.

Anyone still alive 30 or so years from now with the money to afford it will be able to go in for a full facial rejuvenation. Grow new teeth. Gradually replace stem cells to generate new skin and collagen layers. New stem cells for the bones will help refill the bones. But achieving absolute beauty will require much more radical changes.

Regardless of how difficult facial reshaping remains in the future ideal beauty will become commonplace. For new babies ideal beauty will increase due to embryo selection but will really take off once embryo genetic engineering becomes possible. Enabled by the massive and continuing declines in the cost of DNA sequencing some scientists will find genetic variants that create differences in facial proportions. Then the problem becomes how to get the right genetic variants into an embryo. Once we can put beauty genes into embryos we are going to have one sexy world.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 December 29 11:06 AM  Brain Beauty

Bob Badour said at December 29, 2009 11:56 AM:
changing facial proportions is another level of problem that involves cutting into bones to shorten and extend bone lengths.

Nah, it's not that hard. Women have been doing it for centuries. Why do you think they are willing to spend so much on a haircut and some makeup?

Jonathan said at December 29, 2009 2:08 PM:


Slap some lipstick on a woman and she becomes the most beautiful woman on the planet? Wish it were that simple. While makeup can enhance a woman's beauty, there is only so much to work with. No, in 30 years people will be able to look like whatever they want to. Everyone will be beautiful which will be very nice.

no i don't said at December 29, 2009 2:18 PM:

I got a slanted eye, wide nose, top lip stuck to my nose, bottom lip hanging down an inch, a big scar on my right cheek and 2 front teeth missing.

Would that disqualify me as a beautiful person??

Bob Badour said at December 29, 2009 6:39 PM:


I never said any such thing. Hairdos can alter the apparent dimensions of a woman's head. Eye-shadow can widen the eyes and rouge can narrow the face.

Mind you, the magazines do as much with photoshop as with hair and makeup, but hair and makeup can achieve a lot.

Rae said at December 30, 2009 12:32 AM:

Yeah Great. I can't wait to live in a world where everyone looks practically the same.

Lono said at December 30, 2009 8:53 AM:

Uh Oh.. I see where this is going...

"When Picasso became bored of painting people, he started representing them as cubes and other abstract forms. The world called him a genius! I've spent my entire surgical career creating the same tired shapes, over and over again: the upturned nose, the cleft chin, the ample bosom. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could do with a knife what that old Spaniard did with a brush?"

- Dr. J.S. Steinman

controlratx said at January 1, 2010 10:13 PM:

From the post: "and the horizontal distance between their eyes was approximately 46 percent of the face's width."

That doesn't make sense. Maybe they mean the horizontal distance between the outside corners of the eyes?

controlratx said at January 1, 2010 10:18 PM:

That would look weird too. Maybe the distance between the pupils?

Pamela Pallett said at October 31, 2013 8:57 PM:

On the off chance anyone comes across this link again, it was the distance between the pupils. (from the first author) If you can't obtain the paper online, you can always contact one of us. We also have corresponding author information with the article that you can use to ask us questions directly, if you'd like.

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