What determines the beauty of a perfect face?
We may never answer the question “how many angels can dance on the point of a needle,” but how about this one: “How many Divine proportions ratios are there in the face of an angel?” The YouTube video and information in this article may give some insight into the answer, with details on the contest, a recap of explanations of beauty that fall short and new insights and a video illustrating the impact of the golden ratio in beauty.
The British contest in 2012 to find “Britain’s Perfect Face” draws over 8,000 entries, and finds Florence Colgate as the winner
British company Lorraine Cosmetics sponsored a contest in 2012 to find “Britain’s Perfect Face.” Billed as the “Naked Competition,” and seeking the most perfect makeup-free face, contestants were required to have completely natural faces, without make-up, botox or cosmetic surgery. The competition drew entries from 8,045 contestants, who were initially screened by a panel that included such industry notables as Joanna Hutton, senior skincare buyer for Superdrug, and Jody Furlong, casting director and model scout.
Once the panel had selected three finalists from the 18-40 age category and three from age 41 and over, voting was opened to the public. Florence Colgate, an 18-year-old student from Kent, England, was selected as their winner.
Various sources offered incomplete explanations of beauty
News stories reporting on the event offered various explanations and analysis as to what made Florence’s face the most perfect, referring to sources such as these:
- A 2009 university study by Pallett, Link and Lee, which claimed to have discovered a “new golden ratio” of beauty based on two simple measures: the distance between the pupils at 46% of the width of the face and the distance between the pupils and mouth at 36% of the distance from the hairline to the chin. In another post on this site, I demonstrate that this study was very flawed in its conclusions. Florence’s “perfect face” has ratios that were notably different, at 44% and only 32.8%, respectively.
- A 1998 by Gillian Rhodes, which related attractiveness to symmetry of the left and right halves of the face. Florence’s face is not really all that symmetrical, as illustrated by the photo below and by the symmetry video on Florence’s Facebook page. In addition, unattractive faces can be symmetrical as well. Other studies have shown that slight facial asymmetry is found in beautiful faces, and even adds to their uniqueness, so symmetry cannot be the determining factor either.
- General observations that Florence’s face has traits traditionally considered to be beautiful in woman, including good complexion, large eyes, full lips and high cheekbones. These though are relative terms without any specific measurements or proportions to define them.
A more complete explanation of facial beauty analysis can be found in Phi, the Golden Ratio
I would like to offer a more complete explanation as to why Florence’s face was perceived among the many entries to be the most perfect: In addition to her facial symmetry and generally attractive feminine facial features, her facial proportions are an almost perfect illustration of the Golden Ratio, 1.618, also known as phi.
How many golden ratios do you think could appear in the perfect human face? 4? 6? 12? 20, or even more? Take a guess. Then watch the YouTube video below.
The image analysis shown in the video was done with
PhiMatrix Golden Ratio Design and Analysis Software
Were there more golden ratios in her face than you thought? The video shows a simple facial analysis of the basic golden ratio relationships on only the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the face. In the video, the golden spiral closely follows the curve of the lower half of her face. This illustrates that beauty is also a function of the shape and position of the many curves found in the human face. For example, a nose flare with sharp square edges would not be as beautiful as one with gently rounded arcs, even though both could conform to the golden ratio in their size and position. For another view on this, see the patented Beauty Mask developed by Dr. Stephen Marquardt. This mask provides an archetype for facial beauty that captures the positions and shapes of all key facial features, and is also based on the golden ratio.
Here is a list of the golden ratio proportions shown in the video:
Golden Ratios in Vertical Facial Dimensions
|#1||Eyes||Nose flare||Nose base|
|#2||Eyes||Nostril top||Center of lips|
|#3||Eyes||Nose base||Bottom of lips|
|#4||Eyes||Center of lips||Bottom of chin|
|#5||Nose flare||Bottom of lips||Bottom of chin|
|#6||Nose flare||Top of lips||Bottom of chin|
|#7||Top of lips||Bottom of lips||Bottom of chin|
|#8||Top of lips||Center of lips||Bottom of lips|
|#9||Arc of eyebrows||Top of eyes||Bottom of eyes|
|#10||Arc of eyebrows||Top of lips||Bottom of chin|
|#18||Center of pupils||Top of nose flare||Bottom of nose|
|#22||Bottom of nose||Top of lips||Bottom of lips|
Golden Ratios in Horizontal Facial Dimensions
|#11||Side of face||Outside of eyes||Center of pupil|
|#12||Side of face||Outside of iris||Inside of eye|
|#13||Side of face||Inside of iris||Center of face|
|#14||Side of face||Inside of near eye||Inside of opposite eye|
|#15||Side of face||Center of face||Outside of opposite eye|
|#16||Side of face||Inside opposite eye||Opposite side of face|
|#17||Outside of eyes||Flare of nose|
|#19||Center of pupils||Bridge of nose||Center of nostrils|
|#20||Inside of eyes||Inside of nostrils|
|#21||Width of mouth||Cupid’s bow|
Golden Ratios in Dimensions of the Head
|#23||Head height||Head width|
|#24||Golden spiral arc of lower portion of face|
Not every face has golden ratios as numerous and as exact as Florence’s, but most faces regarded as beautiful will have a significant number of key facial proportions that are at, or very close to, the golden ratio. Examples of this are shown in my posts on:
- The Golden Ratio Analysis in the Human Face
- Beauty in the Human Face, and
- The 2009 university study on the “New” Golden Ratio
“Beauty is in the eye, or phi, of the beholder?”
It has long been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and thought that beauty varies by race, culture or era. The evidence, however, shows that our perception of physical beauty is hard wired into our being and based on how closely the features of one’s face reflect phi in their proportions.
So what are your thoughts about these findings on perceptions of facial beauty? Is the Golden Ratio the most critical factor? Is the evidence presented here on facial beauty more precise, complete and compelling than symmetry alone, or the simplistic measures of the 2009 study? Your comments are welcome.
For further reading see the articles below: