Study reveals surprising characteristics of the “perfect" lips

A scientific study has revealed the perfect size and ratio for lips, and it might be quite different to what you expected...

Over the years, there have been certain characteristics that are generally thought of as the 'perfect' lips.

And most of the time it is assumed that a plumper pout is more sought for. 

In the UK, 'lip fillers' has been amongst the most commonly searched for cosmetic treatments. While in the US, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported approximately 27,000 lip implants in 2015, a 50% increase from 2000.

Angelina Jolie is known for her famously plump lips

And while many have undergone cosmetic procedures to achieve this sought-for look, others have tried to replicate it with some of the many lip-enhancing makeup products on the market or used the subtle illusory trick of over lining the lips to create the appearance of a fuller pout.

However, while impossibly plump pouts are continuously portrayed in the media as an ideal look, a scientific study has now revealed that the "perfect" pair of lips are in fact a lot more subtle and realistic-looking.

Over 400 women took part in the study, which was published by the JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, that got participants to choose the lip size they thought looked most attractive from a series of proffered images.

(Image credit: JAMA)

To come up with the results for the research, which was carried out by the University of California, side-by-side images of participants' lips were shown and ranked from 1 (least attractive) to 10 (most attractive).

Manipulated images of women’s overall lip sizes were shown to guide the researchers in finding the optimal lip shape and size.

Upper and lower lips were shown separately to help researchers get the ‘ideal’ upper to lower lip ratio.

(Image credit: JAMA)

Surprisingly, the research revealed that the participants preferred lips where the lower part was twice as big as the upper lip.

They also found that the ‘perfect’ lips were 50 per cent larger than a the regular woman’s natural lip size and took up roughly 10 per cent of the lower part of a woman’s face.

In visual terms, this would be something similar to the look of acting legend Sophia Loren.

Who needs plumping glosses, we're all about the natural now.

Aleesha Badkar
Aleesha Badkar

Aleesha is digital shopping writer at woman&home - so whether you're looking for beauty, fashion, health or home buys, she knows all the best places to splash your cash. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 after graduating from University of Leeds in 2014 with a BA in English and Spanish (which took her to Madrid for a fun Rioja and tapas-packed year). Aleesha has worked for woman&home since 2019, when she joined the team as their digital news writer. A year on the news team gained her quick and reactive writing skills and a love for breaking stories, invaluable insight into where to get the best lifestyle releases first, an AOP awards nomination and the nickname ‘crazy watch lady’ after she became so obsessed with the royals that she followed breaking news alerts on her Apple Watch.


Before joining the woman&home team, Aleesha wrote for their sister site GoodtoKnow, where she covered celebrity news, health advice and where to snap up the cheapest lifestyle buys. With a background in beauty, Aleesha has also written for Stylist and Women’s Health where she developed an understanding into what makes a stellar product and which brands are worth paying attention to. She never leaves the house without a slick of lip balm and a good slathering of SPF, cannot live without an eyelash curler by her side and is always on the hunt for new lipsticks to add to her ‘Lipstick of the Day’ Instagram story highlight (and color-coordinated collection).

But it’s not just beauty buys Aleesha can help you with. Social media savviness, strong PR relationships and a need to stay in the know mean she’s all about the latest fashions, clever gadgets and reliable lifestyle buys too. She loves indulging in an interior craze (with a bedroom drowned in prints, plants and pink), is a regular visitor to the Missoma and Edge of Ember 'New In' pages and can’t resist the allure of a kitchen gadget—just ask her three coffee machines.

When she’s not playing around with new products and testing anything she can get her hands on, Aleesha spends most of her time with her head in a current bestseller, catching up on the latest Netflix craze with her sister, trying out new recipes, drinking wine with her bestie and (in non-COVID times) has been known to be a bit of a jetsetter amongst her friendship group. Oh and she makes the most of her Disney+ subscription by watching the Marvel films on repeat (definitely not just for Chris Evans...).

Follow her latest shopping & lifestyle advice, beauty insights and social antics on Instagram at @aleeshabadkar.


Twitter: @aleeshabadkar

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Email: aleesha.badkar@futurenet.com