Science pins down the ideals of male and female beauty

A new study has used facial mapping technology to compose what is perceived to be the ideal representation of European beauty.

Using identikit technology, researchers at the University of Kent in the UK tasked contributors to compose what they considered to be the most attractive facial features in men and women.

The resultant mash-ups – overseen by facial mapping expert, Dr Chris Soloman – were then judged and rated for attractiveness by 100 people.

Facial mapping software was then used to combine the faces and the ratings to create geometric maps of the ideal male and female faces.

These were then used in a comparison to the geometric maps of celebrity faces, who were ranked according to the closeness of the match of the same facial landmarks to those on the ideal geometric map.

Metrics measured in the geometric facial map include width of mouth, thickness of lips, vertical and horizontal eye dimension, eye separation, nose length and width, brow length and width, chin length, face length and width and visible nostril area.

These are the resultant ideals:

Male ideal beauty
Male ideal beauty
Female ideal beauty
Female ideal beauty
Ideal Women Men
Eyes Almond-shaped, brown eyes Oval-shaped, blue eyes
Eyebrows Arched, shaped eyebrows Medium-thick eyebrows, straight with curved ends
Nose Slim, small nose Slim, mid-length straight nose
Lips Full lips Average lips
Jawline Regular, smooth jawline Square jawline
Face shape Heart-shaped face Oval-shaped face
Hair Brunette hair Brunette hair
Symmetry Near perfect facial symmetry Near perfect facial symmetry

The list of celebrities who closely match the “ideal” include female celebs like Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and Taylor Swift, while male celebrities like David Gandy, Chris Hemsworth and Bradley Cooper topped the rankings.

Celebrities and beauty
Celebrities and beauty
David Gandy
David Gandy
Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman

Notably, the study’s output, being based in and representative of the UK, contains only white people, a point which Dr Solomon is acutely aware of.

“It’s important to note that these are the idealised faces according to those living in the UK, so a study in Asia or Africa for example would no doubt have different results,” he said.

The study also showed the differences in male- and female-perceived beauty when it comes to men and women.

Women found men with a softer jaw-line, clean shaven and fuller lips as more attractive, while larger eyes and higher cheekbones were seen as more attractive on females.

Female (left) vs Male (Right) perception of female beauty
Female (left) vs Male (Right) perception of female beauty
Female (left) vs Male (Right) perception of male beauty
Female (left) vs Male (Right) perception of male beauty

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Science pins down the ideals of male and female beauty