How to be Beautiful - Finding Your Facial Harmony

If you ask a person why they would consider plastic surgery or cosmetic treatments, usually they will tell you they dislike their nose, or wish they had bigger eyes, or want to change their chin. Some would ask for Angelina Jolie's lips or Scarlett Johannsen's nose, thinking that the fuller lips or perkier nose would make them more beautiful. 

Yet study after study has failed to identify the 'Perfect' nose or chin or lips, because it is not the specific shape or size of each facial feature that makes a face attractive, it is how all of those features harmonize with each other. This is the study of facial harmonics, or profiloplasty. By improving the harmony of facial features in relation to each other, we can improve an individual's features so they look like themselves, but more aesthetically pleasing.


Facial harmonics looks at how the features on a face work together as a whole. For example, a face that is considered beautiful generally tends to be very symmetrical, ie. when a line is drawn from the forehead to the chin, the two sides of the face are very equal and balanced. 

Photographer Julian Wolkenstein took photographs of people and showed their faces in left and right side mirror images to demonstrate the importance of facial symmetry (Fig. 1). Most people have faces that are not perfectly symmetrical - notice the differences in the shape of the eyes, nose, mouth and jawline in the mirror images of the left and right sides of the face of the person shown below. These minute differences may not be obvious when we look at a person, but the brain registers the differences as facial imbalances, which we then translate into a factor of the attractiveness of a person. 

   Figure 1

            ORIGINAL                                           LEFT SYMMETRY                                  RIGHT SYMMETRY

Compare this to a picture of a person who is widely considered attractive, such as American actress Halle Berry (Fig 2). The three pictures show few differences, as her face is very symmetrical and in harmony.

Figure 2

The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio is a mathematical concept seen in natural phenomena from plants to sea shells and is an important indicator of correct proportions in the human body. It was employed by famous artists and architects to determine aesthetically and functionally pleasing proportions, such as in the famous painting of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (Fig 3). The human face can also be divided using the Golden Ratio to determine the most harmonious position of each facial feature. (Fig 4)

Figure 3                                                                            Figure 4

Plastic surgeon Dr. Stephen Marquardt developed a tool based on this Golden Ratio to show how facial features can be corrected to achieve facial harmony. 

Figure 5

Facial dimensions and angles

The angles of facial features and how they relate to each other is often used as a reference for doctors to determine ideal facial harmony. A leading British plastic surgeon, Dr. Rajiv Grover, studied pictures of over 100 models and actresses and determined that the ideal angle between the center of the chin and the outer edge of the cheekbones should be 81 degrees. Other facial angles such as the angle between the forehead and the nose, and the tip of the nose and the upper lip, are also indicators of the attractiveness of a face. Aesthetic doctors use these simple measurements to determine facial features can be corrected for greater facial harmony. 


Facial features such as a heart-shaped face, prominent cheek bones and a well-defined nose also increase the attractiveness of a female face, as these are considered feminine characteristics. Many studies also suggest that more child-like features such as larger eyes, a large, curved forehead, and shorter noses and chins were features that enhanced attractiveness. The key facial features of the eyes, nose and mouth should form a downwards pointing triangle. 

By contrast, an aging face begins to lose fat from the eye area, so the eyebrows begin to droop, eyes become smaller as the eyelids droop, and the under eye area becomes more pronounced with wrinkles and dark circles. As aging progresses, the fat pad in the cheekbones begin to lose their definition, and lines begin to form around the nose and mouth. In advanced aging, the triangle of youth becomes completely reversed, as the jowls sag and form a square jawline.     

The true benefits of plastic surgery or aesthetic procedures will always be to try to bring out the best of your own looks, so you look like yourself, but perhaps with brighter skin after laser treatments, a more relaxed and refreshed look from diminished wrinkles and under-eye circles, or a more polished you from a more defined nose, rejuvenated lips or lifted cheekbones. 

-- Cosmetic Medicine, MD

Dr. Liow Tiong Sin is an aesthetic practitioner who practices in Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, Malaysia. He has more than 12 years of expertise with non-surgical cosmetic treatments, and  conducts training courses for other doctors from all around Asia. To connect with Dr. Liow, Like Cosmedmd's Facebook page. or email
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