The eye canthal tilt refers to the angle between the internal and external corners of the eyes. Research by Codner et al. (2008) has identified three types of canthal tilt: positive, neutral, and negative.
Several studies have emphasized the significance of a positive canthal tilt in male attractiveness. Specifically, an article by Volpe and Ramirez (2005) highlighted that for men, an ideal tilt averages at approximately +3 degrees. A deviation from this ideal value can impact perceived beauty, making precise adjustments crucial in aesthetic procedures. Moreover, a positive canthal tilt in men can result in a more attractive, sharper, and youthful appearance, while a negative tilt may make them appear older or tired.
The eye canthal tilt’s importance extends beyond medical and academic circles. In the beauty and fashion sectors, a positive canthal tilt, often associated with almond-shaped eyes, is considered a hallmark of timeless beauty. Hollywood and cinema also reflect this preference; actors like Matt Bomer exhibit the allure of a positive tilt. Meanwhile, societal beauty standards influenced by the tilt have psychological roots, often linked to evolutionary preferences for youth and health.
The world of plastic surgery often addresses the canthal tilt. Surgeons frequently assist patients in altering their eye tilt to align with prevailing beauty standards or to address functional issues. An example from Dr. Scott J. Turner highlighted how canthoplasty can transform a person’s appearance, making them seem more awake and confident.
Historically, various cultures have attached importance to the eyes. In ancient Egypt, eye makeup often accentuated or simulated a canthal tilt, symbolizing good health and royal power. Meanwhile, Eastern beauty standards, specifically in China and Japan, revered eyes with a positive tilt, associating them with kindness and beauty.
The modern digital age has intensified focus on the canthal tilt, with platforms like TikTok fostering discussions around it. For instance, influencer Kenny Haller received a comment emphasizing the negative perception of a downturned tilt.
In conclusion, the canthal tilt’s significance has evolved through history and cultures, reflecting changing beauty standards and societal values. Today, it remains a contemporary point of fascination in beauty discussions and practices.
Understanding Eye Canthal Tilt
The eye canthal tilt is the angle between the internal corner of the eyes (i.e., medial canthus) and the external corner of the eyes (i.e., lateral canthus).
According to the study by Codner et al. (2008), canthal tilt was considered positive when the lateral canthus was superior to the level of the medial canthus, neutral when it was located at the same level, and negative when it was inferior.
How Positive Canthal Tilt Boosts Male Attractiveness
There are many studies that have shown that a positive canthal tilt in men’s eyes is considered attractive. Let’s dive into some of those findings here.
A conference paper submitted in Robotics Design, Dynamics, and Control titled “Robotic Eyes with 7 DOFs: Structural Design and Motion Simulation” by Penčić et al. (2019) suggested that for males, an ideal canthal tilt is one that is either slightly positive or neutral. This positioning creates a perception of a youthful and balanced facial structure. On the other hand, the study suggested that a negative canthal tilt, where the lateral canthus is positioned lower than the medial canthus is commonly associated with aging. Thus, for aesthetic purposes and to maintain a youthful appearance, males should aim for or preserve, a slightly positive canthal tilt. Moreover, the study suggested that an increase in the angle of the canthal tilt, or a more pronounced canthal tilt, is associated with greater facial attractiveness. This is further evidenced by the statement that it’s a common procedure in aesthetic surgery, implying that many individuals seek to modify this angle to enhance their facial appeal.
Another published article titled “The Beautiful Eye” by Volpe and Ramirez (2005) delves into the aesthetic principles of the periorbital region to aid practitioners in enhancing their aesthetic sensibility when approaching this crucial aspect of facial beauty. A fundamental takeaway from the study is the importance of the eye canthal tilt—a slight incline or tilt in the intercanthal axis, transitioning from the medial to the lateral portion of the eyes. This underscores the nuanced relationship between the positive eye canthal tilt in men and perceptions of attractiveness.
Ideal Positive Canthal Tilt for Men
It has been found that positive canthal tilt looks attractive in both males and females. However, the ideal value or angle varies between males and females. Let’s look at some of the research studies that talk about the eye canthal tilt’s ideal value/angle among males.
Volpe and Ramirez (2005) in their published article titled “The Beautiful Eye” highlighted that for men, the ideal average value of this tilt is pegged at 2.1 mm (equivalent to approximately +3 degrees). Notably, maintaining this specific degree of tilt is pivotal; any excessive inclination risks feminizing the male eyelids. The study highlighted that even minor deviations from the “ideal value” can significantly impact perceived beauty, emphasizing the precision required in periorbital aesthetic procedures.
Similarly, the study by Zettlemoyer and Sherber (2021) shared the same findings that a positive Eye Canthal Tilt is seen as a feminine feature mainly because it’s more commonly found in women than in men. However, the study points out that the canthal tilt is slightly less positive in males as compared to females, which means the tilt should be positive in males to make them attractive, but the increased tilt from an ideal value/angle can give a feminine appearance.
Bueller (2018) found that positive canthal tilt gives men a more attractive, sharper, and younger look. “A positive canthal tilt is considered attractive in men, with the lateral canthus positioned slightly superior to the medial canthus by approximately 2 to 4 mm. The angle of this tilt in men is 1° to 2°, which is considered a hallmark of a beautiful eye.” On the other hand, a negative eye canthal tilt makes men look tired, sad, and older.
Practical Implications of Eye Canthal Tilt in Everyday Life
The importance of the eye canthal tilt is not just in medical books or research. It may affect our daily lives, influencing how society sees beauty, affecting our minds, and being used in areas like cinema, fashion, and plastic surgery.
The Fashion and Beauty Industry’s Take on Canthal Tilt
Popular blogs on beauty and makeup emphasize the power of the ‘almond-shaped’ eye, which is often characterized by a slight positive canthal tilt. The shape considered a sign of timeless beauty, has influenced trends in eye makeup techniques, especially in creating the ideal ‘cat-eye’.
Furthermore, leading fashion magazines, in their quest for fresh-faced models, often opt for faces with positive canthal tilts, associating them with youth and vibrancy. One could speculate that top models like David Gandy, known for his sharp and attractive features, owe part of his charm to his subtle eye tilt.
The Charm in Hollywood and Cinema
Actors and celebrities, being constantly under the limelight become trendsetters. The positive canthal tilt is indicated as a sign of beauty and youth and is often a sought-after feature among leading men in cinema. Recall Hollywood’s heartthrob like Matt Bomer; his eyes exuded an enigmatic charm, in part due to this slight positive tilt. It’s important to note here that the eyes’ tilt is slightly positive which means it does not give them a feminine appearance.
Psychological Impacts and Societal Perceptions
The world of psychology suggests that our perceptions of beauty are deeply linked with our evolutionary preferences. A positive canthal tilt, indicating youth and health, might be psychologically associated with optimal mating potential.
Societally, these perceptions have transcended into defining beauty standards. According to a news article written in a popular BBC Magazine, many people say that after small cosmetic surgeries to change their looks, they feel better about themselves and others find them more attractive. These changes can impact their friendships, job chances, and how they feel about themselves overall.
The importance of the eye canthal tilt isn’t merely superficial. Plastic surgeons often encounter patients seeking modifications to counteract the effects of aging or simply to align closer with prevailing beauty standards. These procedures, however, aren’t solely for aesthetic purposes. Correcting a significantly negative tilt can also have functional benefits, such as improved peripheral vision or reduced eye strain.
Dr. Scott J. Turner, a leading plastic surgeon in Sydney and Newcastle, often emphasizes the transformational power of Canthoplasty. In his blog, he recalls a case of an individual plagued by eyes that gave off a sleepy, narrow, and tired appearance. After helping the patient get a positive canthal tilt through Canthoplasty surgery, the person looked more awake and confident, showing how a simple change can make a big difference.
Historical and Cultural Perspectives
The canthal tilt, a subtle facial feature, has carried diverse meanings in various cultures and times. When we look at its history and importance in different cultures, we see many beauty standards, changing styles, and interesting stories about how people see beauty. Let’s look at canthal tilt from historical and cultural perspectives.
Ancient Civilizations and the Allure of the Eyes
Throughout history, eyes have been the focal point of beauty and expression. In ancient Egypt, for instance, elaborate eyeliner styles accentuated the eyes, sometimes enhancing or mimicking a canthal tilt — symbolizing protection, good health, and royal power. This can be witnessed in numerous statues, frescoes, and mummies, where the eye appears uplifted, portraying a mystical allure. For example, an article in the magazine National Geographic detailed that in Ancient Egypt, from 3100-30 B.C., both men and women adorned their eyes with heavy makeup, predominantly using kohl. This cosmetic practice not only accentuated and defined their eyelids but also held religious and medicinal significance.
Eastern Beauty Standards: The Story of China and Japan
In East Asian cultures, the eyes have often been a significant aspect of beauty ideals. Ancient Chinese poems and literature used the term “méi lán huǒ yǎn” (i.e., peach blossom eyes) a description that many believe alludes to a slightly upward slant of the eyes—akin to a positive canthal tilt. Such eyes were seen as mysterious and captivating. Similarly, in Japan, they used the term “momo-Tsubomi” (i.e., peach blossom bud) to refer to this eye shape and they associated these eyes with a person who is kind, gentle, and approachable. For centuries, these captivating positive canthal tilt eyes have been revered as a symbol of beauty and attractiveness in both China and Japan.
The Global Perspective in the 21st Century
Today, the canthal tilt term has become very popular over the internet. Recently, a popular social media app that allows users to create, share, and watch short videos came up with a new filter that allows users to find out their canthal tilt. On this app, we see 14-year-olds posting their “anti-aging” routines on TikTok and teenagers referring to those in their 20s as “elderly,” highlighting the current generation’s heightened focus on looks. Remarkably, Gen Z is now suggesting that attractiveness is determined by one’s eye shape, with down-turned eyes (often referred to as a negative canthal tilt) being deemed less desirable. An influencer, Kenny Haller, received a comment on one of his videos pointing out his eye shape. The comment read, “Negative canthal tilt – it’s over for you, bro.”
With globalization, beauty ideals are more intertwined than ever. Yet, cultural preferences remain. In South Korea, for example, eye surgeries are not just about double eyelids but also involve subtle adjustments to the canthal tilt to achieve a desired youthful appearance. Popular magazines along with The New Yorker magazine reported that South Korea has the highest rate of plastic surgery per capita in the world. An anecdotal story from a renowned plastic surgeon, Dr. Ananya Singh, encapsulates this global trend. A patient, inspired by both K-pop stars and Western celebrities, desired a unique blend of the two styles—a positive canthal tilt, but not too pronounced, wishing to retain her ethnic identity while embracing global beauty standards. This balance underscores the evolution of beauty ideals in our interconnected world.
The journey of the canthal tilt through history is a testament to the dynamic nature of beauty standards. From ancient civilizations to modern-day global influences, the way societies perceive this subtle eye feature offers profound insights into evolving cultural aesthetics. Today, as beauty becomes increasingly individualistic and personalized, the canthal tilt stands as both a historical artifact and a contemporary fascination.
Codner, M. A., Wolfli, J. N., & Anzarut, A. (2008). Primary transcutaneous lower blepharoplasty with routine lateral canthal support: a comprehensive 10-year review. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 121(1), 241-250. DOI: 10.1097/01.prs.0000295377.03279.8d
Bueller, H. (2018). Ideal facial relationships and goals. Facial Plastic Surgery, 34 (05), 458-465. https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0038-1669401
Volpe, C. R., & Ramirez, O. M. (2005). The beautiful eye. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics, 13(4), 493-504. DOI: 10.1016/j.fsc.2005.06.001
Penčić, M., Čavić, M., Borovac, B., Lu, Z., & Rackov, M. (2019). Robotic eyes with 7 DOFs: structural design and motion simulation. In ROMANSY 22–Robot Design, Dynamics and Control: Proceedings of the 22nd CISM IFToMM Symposium, June 25-28, 2018, Rennes, France (pp. 52-60). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-78963-7_8
Zettlemoyer, E., & Sherber, N. S. (2021). The Cosmetic Consultation: Anatomy and Psychology–The Female Patient. Essential Psychiatry for the Aesthetic Practitioner, 64-78. https://sci-hub.wf/10.1002/9781119680116.ch6