Lip Sexiness Is Now a Science

Scientists are tired of thinking about dilemmas like “Are Angelina Jolie’s abnormally large mouth-pillows the sexiest?” or “Is Scarlett Johannson’s bee-stung pair the pinnacle of labial attractiveness?” Such subjectivity is inefficient for plastic surgeons, who currently have no metric for measuring sexiness. That’s why a team plastic surgeons devised a very real study to scientifically determine, once and for all, what kind of lips are the most attractive.

The study, published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery today, sums up its central question thus: What lip dimensions are the most attractive in white women? Apparently, the field of lip augmentation for white women is like the Wild West: “[There] is currently no accepted dimension considered most attractive or ideal other than the subjective concept of fuller lips,” they write.

The hope is that, when white women come into a plastic surgery practice unsure of whose lips they want recreated on their face, the results of this study will be used as a handy metric for quantifying exactly how much more augmentation they want, in the same way that the “super-size” option at McDonald’s reliably provides the same increase in food volume every time. In the study, the University of California Irvine researchers explain that they’ve quantified exactly what makes some lips more attractive than others, but they do not explain why they only studied white women.

Kylie Jenner's lips were not considered in this study.

Getty Images / Frazer Harrison

To collect data for their study, they asked participants to rank, in terms of attractiveness, photos of faces that had been digitally modified to show different types of lip augmentation. In one part of the test, 100 faces were ranked by 150 women; in another part, 60 faces were ranked by 428 women. The original photos were of white women aged 18 to 25 years old, and they were modified to show differences in upper to lower lip ratio, the amount of lip surface area, and the dimension of the lips relative to the lower third of the face.

Their analysis led them to conclude that ideals of lip beauty among white women are not rooted in size but in ratio. “The present study sought to determine attractive ideals for white women, and it is generally accepted that ‘harmony and disharmony does not lie within angles, distances…or volumes. They arise from proportion,’” they write in the article.

The golden ratio of white female lips, it seems, looks something like this:

The perfect upper to lower lip ratio for white women is 1:2.

For context, here are 1:2 lips compared to 1:3 lips.

Science suggests the lips on the left are more attractive than the lips on the right.

They also determined that an increase of 53.5% in the total lip surface area with a “linear dimension” equal to 9.6% of the lower face, together with the 1:2 upper to lower lip ratio, makes for the most attractive white lady pout.

These ratios, in contrast, should probably be avoided.

Science says: Not cute!

Popenko et al, JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery

The “overfilled” upper lip look, they write, is commonly seen in celebrities, and so clients often ask their surgeons to emulate it on their own faces. Now that science has shown that it is not cute, perhaps society will finally kiss that look goodbye.

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