Updated 07 October 2015

Is there a formula for perfect beauty?

Aesthetic physician Dr Anushka Reddy questions whether the perfect face is defined by mathematics

Ask a million people and receive a million different answers: what makes a face beautiful?

With perceptions of beauty differing not only from culture to culture but also from individual to individual, is it possible to pinpoint features that everyone finds pleasing to the eye?

And when it comes to aesthetic enhancements, is there a formula that can help aesthetic physicians create faces that are universally attractive?

The Marquardt Beauty Mask, from

The answer lies in mathematics

In most definitions of beauty, the golden ratio – approximately equal to 1,618 and the algebraic answer to the question of all things aesthetically pleasing – applies.

This ratio has been applied to both natural and man-made structures since 430 BC, and although it’s admittedly biased towards Western features, why shouldn’t it be used by aesthetic physicians as they enhance and restore a more youthful look to faces? How does the formula work?

The first to use the principles of the golden ratio in aesthetic medicine was a plastic surgeon called Dr Stephen Marquardt. He developed the golden decagon mask (pictured above) to depict what he considered the perfect face, and detail the most favourable proportions between features – for example, the ideal distance between the eyes, and space from the tip of the nose to the ear.

According to his theory, a person is more attractive when in better proportion; symmetry plays a significant role too. Your aesthetic physician may base their corrections on measurements similar to those of the golden decagon mask, but it’s important to remember that sometimes exact symmetry and proportions are unattainable based on the existing canvass, so to speak.

That said, many non-invasive corrections are possible – plumping up the lips or cheeks with dermal fillers, for example, can go a long way towards correcting symmetry and proportion, and administering Botulinum toxin can further enhance results.

Watch: Facial Beauty Analysis and the Golden Ratio (Phi, 1.618), featuring Florence Colgate and PhiMatrix

Published on 1 Sep 2013

Is human facial beauty related to the Golden Ratio? How many Golden Ratios are there in a beautiful face? This video features Florence Colgate, voted Britain's "Most beautiful face" for 2012 and searches for the presence of Golden Ratios in her facial features and proportions using PhiMatrix golden ratio design and analysis software.

The “new” golden ratio

Before you get carried away with thoughts of how the golden decagon mask will transform your face, you may want to consider a 2009 study that ran several experiments to uncover a modern golden ratio.

The experiments found that attractiveness is based on facial ratio, alluring features and averageness. Similar to the golden decagon mask, this theory is based on the assumption that an optimally attractive face relies on specific measurements between features; it’s just that the new measurements differ from those of the decagon mask.

It was found that when the eye-to-mouth distance is 36% of the face’s length, and eye-to-eye distance is 46% of the face’s width, the face reaches its optimal attractiveness given its unique features. In my opinion these theories, if nothing else, demonstrate that beauty is evolving.

Defining beauty remains a subjective exercise, but by applying simple principles of proportion, symmetry and angles, we can create something close to a universally accepted version of beauty.

Source: This article first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2014 issue of Health Intelligence magazine. For more info on what's in the latest issue, visit

How does your face shape up?

Visit Dr Marquardt's website where you can download a copy of the mask and, following the instructions, measure your face and also use the mask as a guide to apply makeup to achieve the perfect face. 

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