Beauty is in the phi of the beholder

“Beauty is in the 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.

Experiments designed to measure attractiveness usually involve showing a series of images of human faces and asking subjects to rate their visual appeal. Surprisingly, individuals across different age groups, races and cultures all agree on what is and isn't beautiful. Even babies as young as 3 months can identify and associate faces that most adults would deem as beautiful. Europeans can pick out the same beautiful Japanese faces as Japanese subjects; Japanese can agree on which European faces another European will view as beautiful. In fact, humans can even agree on the attractiveness of monkey faces, thus ruling out most unique racial, cultural and even species influences. So what's going on?  

Beyond personal taste, humans seem to have an instinctive understanding of what is attractive. Centuries of research by artists and scientists have uncovered a key element encoded in all things beautiful: Physical beauty is based on canons of proportions that are ubiquitous throughout the natural and created world. From Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man to the spirals of our DNA and the Parthenon in Athens, the same mathematical relationship and pattern – the “Divine Proportion” or “Golden Ratio” – is repeated over and over in what we perceive as visually pleasing universally.

The Golden Ratio of 1.618 to 1.0 is a universal pattern of balance and proportion found in nature, art and architecture, including the Parthenon. Based on the Golden Ratio, Dr Stephen Marquardt’s ‘Phi Mask’ matches the perfect heart-shaped face with well-balanced features.

Similarly, an attractive human face is shaped in a symphony of harmonious divine proportions and balanced curves that transcend ethnic differences. While various instruments have been used to precisely measure these encoded ratios of beauty, studies have determined that a heart-shaped face with a well-defined, slim jawline tapering into a delicate pointed chin and proportionately full, curvaceous profile as the ideal feminine facial contour.

In today’s world of Photoshop-perfection, advanced medical technology has allowed real-life retouching with safe non-surgical treatments to bring you one step closer to a perfection that’s in sync with nature. Mature faces look more youthfully attractive, and younger faces more beautiful.

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Variations and other factors in beauty

Even with a perfectly proportioned face though, there are endless variations in coloring and the shapes of each facial feature (eyes, eyebrows, lips, nose, etc.) that give rise to the distinctive appearance of each race and provide for endless variations in beauty that are as unique as each individual.The human face communicates an incredible array of emotions which are an integral element of one’s total beauty. The human face conforms most closely to phi proportions when we smile. You’ll be perceived as more beautiful with a warm smile than with a cold-hearted look of anger, arrogance or contempt.

Interestingly, symmetry in the face does not necessarily equate to beauty. Many, if not most, faces that are perceived as beautiful are usually not even close to being perfect in symmetry of the left and right sides. Perfect symmetry tends to result in a face that appears unnatural, animated or robot-like.

More importantly, the application of the golden ratio to beauty refers only to physical beauty, and that is only one element of what defines true beauty in humans. The saying “beauty is only skin deep” reflects this. Physical beauty is fleeting and passes with time. Other qualities of the mind and soul are the substance of true beauty. These include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, to quote from the Bible in Galatians 5:22-23. Our inner beauty is reflected in many ways, through our creative works, expressions of thought, compassion, friendship and acts of service for others. So while Hollywood and fashion magazines may trumpet physical beauty, true beauty in the human experience and the things that lead us to love and be loved are found in a beauty that runs much deeper, and that ultimately impacts physical beauty as well.


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The Skin Radar is an online avenue which documents my tumbling thoughts, ideas and musings from my daily life, mainly based on skincare and beauty. It is designed to take the clutter out of beauty journalism to provide trustworthy and objective insights, new finds and sneak peaks- all in a beautiful and clean platform.

I test all products & treatments with age and skin colour in mind, break down the latest health fads, and source for expert opinions from international skincare leaders. All in all, my goal is to make sure that I am on top of every beauty innovation and skincare trend the world has to offer.