Though we all encompass our own unique facial features, we tend to express an instinctive appeal or intuitive beauty to a particular “look” of some faces. This favored “look” is widely shared by our peers and we refer to this universal phenomenon as mere perfection or beauty. The proportions that appear most beautiful to us are applicable to more than just faces, including landscapes and art.
The Golden Ratio
The Egyptians are most famous for their diligence in perfecting the proportions of pyramid structures. Leonardo Fibonacci, a curious mathematician from the Middle Ages period, took inspiration from the Egyptians and founded a universal proportion that was most attractive to the human eye. He termed his discovery, the “Golden Ratio” and produced a series of numbers that would produce his proportion of perfection, ranging close to a ratio of 1.618.
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89…
Centuries later, philosophers and artists were exploring Fibonacci’s mathematical theory, referring to the ratio as a “Divine Proportion” or “Golden Section”. Leonardo da Vinci acquired the proportions in many of his art pieces for the enhancement of artistic appeal; the Mona Lisa, being his most popular ‘proportioned’ piece. The modern day Golden Ratio is represented by the greek letter Phi and is finding its application in the facial plastics field. Utilizing the Golden Ratio proportions to the vertical and horizontal portions of the face can help plastic surgeons strive for a synchronized harmony, or balance, with facial features. The region of the face that gives the most Golden Ratio appeal is the width of face in reference with the width of the eyes, nose, and ears.
While the Golden Ratio provides mathematical basis to aesthetic appeal, there are other holistic factors that coincide beauty with a youthful and healthy appeal. Dr. Arthur Swift proposed his “Magnificent Seven” factors of aesthetic beauty trends.
Dr. Arthur Swift’s “Magnificent Seven”
- Facial Shape
- Forehead Height
- Eyebrow Shape
- Eye Size and Inter-Eye Distance
- Skin clarity/color/texture
- Facial Volume
- Shape of lower face and neck
Though this list has altered over the last few years, I’d prefer to refer to it as the “Magnificent Nine”.
The ‘inverted triangle’ is the statement piece of the overall face, that created a proportional balance. The fuller cheeks of the lateral face shape act like an open canvas to the eyes, nose and lips.
The forehead in ratio of the central facial features and lower face adds to the vertical Golden Ratio of the face. A forehead that feels too long can weaken the Golden Ratio, while a forehead that feels too short can broaden the ratio.
As eyebrow hairs take a particular curvature, the lateral height of eyebrow in conjunction with the shape of the brow can draw attention to or detract attention from the eyes. Eyebrows have been a more fashionable accessory to the face, and change in trends from fully busheled to thinly tailored. Newest advances with microblading and eyebrow can allow men and women to change their eyebrow shape that bring more appeal to their face.
The anatomical size of the eye is oftentimes anatomically proportional to the size of the nose, but the interspacing between the eyes can offset the horizontal Golden Ratio. Because the nasal bridge begins between the eyes, the bridge projection can give the illusion of narrow versus broad eyes, even if the proportion is closely matching to the 1.618 ratio.
The fuller lip is overall considered a healthier look, but the proportion of the upper and bottom lip is what sets Fibonacci’s Golden Ratio.The upper lip should be proportionally smaller to the bottom lip at the medial center. Lip injections presume the most recent outbreak in facial plastics, and by my professional observation, more women are striving for the larger upper lip to meet fashionable trend. Though I will never doubt the appeal of the Golden Ratio standard, which offers the most natural look.
Skin that is considered beautiful is associated as acne and pigmentation free, but youthful skin look is free of harsh lines, wrinkles, and acne scarred texture. Skin trends are now breaking the beauty stereotypes; for instance, Amy Deanna, a model with vitiligo, a skin disease characterized by it blotching of light and dark skin pigments, became a new Ambassador of CoverGirl this year.
Fat distribution throughout the face, in collaboration with firm, collagen-filled skin, determines our healthiest appeal in facial beauty. Facial volume plays a role in the Golden Ratio bringing cheek proportion to the ‘inverted triangle’ (refer to the diagram above). Overtime, men and women experience volume loss as both their collagen and fat gradually atrophy in the face. The aged look with volume loss can be reversed and corrected with fat transfer, filler injectables, and platelet-rich plasma.
Lower Face Shape
Factors that contribute to the lower face can range from bone, to muscle, and to skin. The jawline can add to both the vertical and horizontal proportions of the face. While the jaw bone reduces in size with aging, the facial shape can gradually change as well and overtime, alter the Golden Ratio of the face. The masseter muscle, on the other hand, can over enhance the jawline to a wider appearance. Many patients opt to correct this with Jaw Botox. In regards to the skin aesthetics, most men and women are first to spot their jowls and marionette lines, which are the finer wrinkles and shadows of the lower face. While procedural approaches can be taken, many patients will consider filler injectables when they notice premature changes.
Ultimately, Fibonacci and Dr. Swift have paved the way to discovering our beauty intuitions. Their compilation of mathematical proportions with aesthetic observations has given great insight to the beauty that appeals to the human eye. However, I cannot limit my practice in facial plastics to this beauty ideal only, as it may only define the “classic beauty” that we see. Modern day trends have evolved around enhancing unconventional features. We’re praising the untamed brows, striking freckles, fuller lips, and sky-high cheekbones and my role as a plastic surgeon is to synchronize these trends in harmony with our facial features.