With the explosion of social media over the past decade, there are a lot of products being developed to make you look prettier and thinner exclusively in digital photos. For instance, the new HP Photosmart R927 camera has a built-in feature that makes you look 5 to 15 pounds thinner with the click of a button. (Oh, if only it were that easy in real life!)
That got me thinking. If we are spending so much time on Facebook that we are buying products designed only to look better digitally, surely there are other tricks to looking hot on-camera. So, for this piece, I consulted with local make-up artists, researched celebrities, and read some scientific literature to figure out exactly what looks universally beautiful in photos- and what does not.
Before we can discover how to look better, we have to know what makes someone look beautiful in the first place. It turns out that beauty is less in the eye of the beholder than we thought. Sometime around 300 B.C., the Greek mathematician Euclid identified the “Golden Proportion,” an ideal face two-thirds as wide as it is tall, with a nose no longer than the distance between the eyes. Many celebrities fit this proportion, including Jessica Simpson , Megan Fox, and Angelina Jolie.
Other ideal proportions exist as well. In 1997, a group of researchers at UCLA developed the Marquardt Mask , a system of 42 golden decagon matrices that are superimposed on the face. The important part of this is that the ideal is to have lips 1.618 times wider than your nose; the width of your eye at its widest 1.618 times wider than the tip of your nose; and the length from your nose to your ears horizontally is 1.618 times wider than your nose. Even more complicated, the measurement from the top of your head to your chin divided by the width of your head, and the measurement from the top of your head to your pupil divided by the measurement from your pupil to your lip should also be 1.618. (For a complete list of ratios, visit the University of Chicago “The Perfect Face” website .) It is these proportions, amongst others, that make a face universally accepted as beautiful. Interestingly enough, e, the popular model Agyness Deyn almost perfectly fits all of the desired proportions, according to Elle .
Yet, if you’re out there measuring and getting 1.4’s or 6.8’s, don’t fret. (Well, maybe fret a little if you’re getting a few 6.8’s, but that’s beside the point). According to research presented by the American Psychological Association in 2002 , beauty also correlates to familiarness. That is, the more often subjects were exposed to a subject, the more they started to perceive it as beautiful. Assuming you don’t have the personality of a rock (or a famous Housewife of New Jersey), this means updating your Facebook photos more often will cause your Facebook friends to perceive you as more attractive over time. Always a plus.
Of course, knowledge without action gives you nothing more than wrinkles on your brain. So, with that said, here are ten tips to achieving the perfect ratio with your cosmetics, camera, and lighting:
One inconvenience of the evolution of social media is the fact that your photo can be snapped and displayed publicly to the world anywhere, anytime. Yet it takes photographers dozens of takes before acing the perfect shot, even with seemingly perfect subjects, lighting, equipment, etc. The bottom line here is that it’s hard to look perfect in every photo on Facebook, even if you make the “untag” button your best friend. I suggest taking the above tips, but remembering to enjoy yourself in the process. After all, the point of living life is not to look good on Facebook, but to use social media platforms to share wonderful moments in your life…and if you happen to look extra great using the above tips along the way, well, that’s just an amazing bonus.
Have a tip for looking great in photos? Share it in Comments below!