The Hottest Lip Look Right Now, According to Science

What makes for the perfect lips? Science might be able to tell you.

In a study published in February, a team of researchers from the University of California set out to find the “ideal female lip aesthetic”. They did so by digitally altering the lip size and proportions 20 young, white women. Over 400 participants then rated the attractiveness of the resulting 100 morphed photos .

The most attractive look? Full lips – more specifically, lips that were approximately a tenth the size of the bottom third of the face – were rated most attractive. As for the ideal lip shape, participants preferred mouths where the bottom lip was twice the height of the upper one.

Lips were digitally altered to make them larger or smaller than their natural size.

Digitally-altered lip surface area. (source)


Lips were digitally altered to adjust the relative size of the upper and bottom lips.

Digitally-altered upper and lower lip proportions. (source)

So while full lips have seen a recent rise in popularity, there’s a lot more to lips than their volume. Lip size and shape matter too, as this study shows. The researchers claim that these findings can help plastic surgeons determine the most attractive lip shape for patients seeking lip augmentation procedures. No more of the “overfilled upper lip look frequently seen among celebrities”, they say.

Plastic surgery aside, this could definitely help your daily makeup routine too! We’re not saying you need to break out a ruler along with your lip liner, but keep these proportions in mind the next time you’re doing your lips and see if you’re suddenly turning more heads than usual.

Want to give it a shot? Here are our top tips to create your ideal lip:

  • Bigger isn’t always better! Remember that your ideal lip size is relative to the rest of your face. So consider your entire face, and don’t go overboard with overdrawing your lips.
  • To mimic the ideal 1:2 upper to lower lip ratio, use lip liner! Go easy on your upper lip and focus on your lower one instead.
  • Lip gloss can also help create the illusion of fuller lips. Try a dab on the center of your lower lip only.
  • To amend your lip shape or to minimise a larger upper lip, blend concealer along your natural lipline and redraw your desired lip shape with lip liner..

With that said, this study only used images of white women, so these findings may not apply to faces with different ethnic features. It is also important to keep in mind that beauty standards are always changing. In the 1920’s, women would shape their lips to be smaller but with a more pronounced Cupid’s bow. In this age of Snapchat, overdrawn lips, and Kylie lip kits however, our ideas of attractiveness (especially when it comes to lips!) could be formed by what we see on social media. Interestingly, the participants in the study were 18-25 year old university students — the demographic most likely to be fans of a certain Kylie Jenner and her famous lips.

If this study had been done twenty years ago, the results might have been very different. But for now, big lips are in, and we’re happy to embrace it!