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Beauty can be expressed in any number of words, but it may very well be represented by a number: 1.618. Identified by ancient Greeks and represented by the Greek letter phi, the "golden ratio" expresses an ideal proportion of two aspects of an object, with one aspect roughly 1 ½ times longer than the other, a ratio of about 1.618. Widely found in nature from everything to conical seashells, hurricanes and flower petals, human faces that follow this mystical ratio are often considered more attractive. All that you need to determine the ratio are some measurements and a few simple calculations.

Measure the length of the face with a ruler or measuring tape held taut, looking straight on and not tilted, from the top of the head at the crown to the bottom of the chin. Find the width of the face by recording the straight measurement from the furthest points of the head at each cheekbone.

Divide the length by the width. A face that is roughly 1 ½ times longer than it is wide will be close to the golden ratio of 1.618.

Determine three key facial measurements that adhere to the golden proportion. Find the distance from the hairline to the bridge of the nose right between the eyes, from between the eyes to the bottom of the nose, and from the bottom of the nose to the chin. The closer these numbers are to being equal, the closer the face is to "ideal beauty" as determined by the golden ratio.

Measure the width of each eye and the distance between the eyes. The ideal proportion occurs when the distance between the eyes is equal to the width of each eye. Measure the length of an ear, which ideally would equal the length of the nose, according to the golden ratio.


Use calipers for the most accurate results.

Analyze the face using the Marquardt mask. Developed by retired plastic surgeon Stephen Marquardt, the mask contains multiple lines indicating the placement and proportion of facial features based on the golden ratio. Several websites allow you to upload a photo of the face for analysis or print out the mask on clear acetate to overlay on top of a photo.

About the Author

Hilary White

Hilary White is a professional writer and editor based in San Diego. White has been writing articles on fashion, style, fitness, nutrition, movies and entertainment since 1994. Her articles have been published in "Westways" magazine, "Pages" magazine, "Book Street USA," "Magill's Cinema Annual," and numerous titles from Visible Ink Press. White holds a bachelor's degree in English from Michigan State University.