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What constitutes a beautiful face

Appearance, or packaging, of almost everything has become rather important in this rapidly changing world. The amount of images we are being bombarded via various sort of media mediums is astonishing, if you really sit down and count it. While some of these images create unnecessarily unrealistic expectations, hence potentially detrimental pressure on the younger generations, the situation does reflect something that we desire as a socially-orientated species. And it has been found that attractive people do tend to get the better jobs, or being offerred more opportunities in various situations.

So how is someone being classified as attractive? Is it the eyes? Or is it the smile? Is it the face? Or is it one's physique? Is it the clothes and the accessories? Or is it one's inner beauty?

The correct answer is -- they all make a difference.

In that case, which one is, in relative terms, more important? Considering we read others mostly (~75%) via body language and lesser (~25%) via speech, the facial muscles have the ability to generate the most complicated combination of expressions, and the eyes have always been referred as "window into one's soul", the human face is obviously the key. It is the one thing we tend to focus on by instinct.

So what makes a beautiful face?

Symmetry, it seems, is the main key. Relative symmetry in terms of the left half of the face to the right half of the face is part of the equation. Studies have shown that the two sides of a face are never absolutely symmetrical. When researchers reconstruct a composite photo of individuals using only one side of the face and making the other side the mirror image of it, the reconstructed faces were almost unanimously voted by interviewees as 'unattractive' or 'something is not right'.

The other part of the symmetry equation is the horizontal proportion of the face. Ideally, the upper third (forehead to eye-level of the nose bridge), the middle third (eye-level of the nose bridge to just above the cupid bow of upper lip) and the lower third (cupid bow of upper lip to chin) of the face should be of equal proportion.

There are many different facial shapes -- oblong, squarish, triangular, roundish, just to name a few. The skull is predominantly determined by genetics and usually very difficult to change, unless one intends to practice some old tribal 'modification techniques' starting from infancy and carrying right through to adulthood. It is known that people from different eras and regions have different preference for the desired facial shape, so there isn't a "fixed" type. By contrast, the rest of the face tends to adapt and change, to a certain extent, according to function, esp during the developmental years. This is where breathing/airway, muscle tone and postures can exert influence and affect the final facial shape. Having said that, there is no doubt that genetics will still somewhat play a role in it.

There are two main features on the face that draw our attention, ie. the eyes and the mouth. And relative symmetry plays a significant role in the overall aesthetics.

For the eyes, genetics determine certain characteristics, like the outline shape, the distance between the eyes and the colour of the iris. However the level of the eyes and its symmetry can be individually influenced by the wings of the sphenoid bone, which lies inside the skull behind the maxillas (mid-face). In some cases, the discrepancy can be rectified or reduced with orthopaedic orthodontic.

The mouth, responsible for generating the socially very important smile, can be more dominant than the eyes due to its relative size and mobility. The intensity and harmony of the other facial features will also determine the dominance of the mouth in the total composition. However, it is always possible these days to alter the dominance of the mouth/smile with modern dental techniques.

Our Doctors

Theresa Leong's picture
BDS (Rand), PDD ClinDent
Rachel Wong's picture
BDS (USyd)
Jaime Maung's picture
BDent(Hons) (USyd)
Briana Fang's picture
BDS (USyd)

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