Along with the eyes, the jawline is arguably the most important part of your face. In this article, I’ll discuss the anatomy of the perfect jawline and what you can do to achieve it.
To improve your jawline you need to focus on chewing gum, mewing, and losing body fat. Possible plastic surgeries for your jaw include a LeFort Osteotomy or distraction osteogenesis.
Importance of the Jawline and Lower Third
The lower third consists of the mandible, maxilla, and chin. Along with the eyes, the lower third is one of the most important parts of your face. Click here to see our guide to the eye area.
The mandible is your lower jaw and creates your jawline. The maxilla is your midface (middle third of your face). It is responsible for your facial width, cheekbones, and eye area.
Testosterone helps stimulate jaw growth. Jaw width correlates with how tall you are. When girls check out your jaw, they’re going to make several assumptions about you right off the bat: that you’re tall, aggressive and dominant.
See our Looks Theory episode for more information about the importance of the mandible and lower third:
Attractive Jawline Characteristics
The chin should extend as far as the forehead. Even a few millimeters of under-projection (mandibular deficiency) or over-projection (mandibular excess) will mess up your looks.
The facial angle is the angle created by your forehead and mouth. The ideal facial angle should be 90-92 degrees, which creates a straight facial profile. If it’s any less, you have a convex facial profile. If it’s larger, you have a concave facial profile. Several things can throw your facial profile out of whack:
- Forward positioning of your mandible. Retrognathism is too far back, and prognathism is too far forward.
- The size your mandible. Micrognathism is too small of a mandible, and macrognathism is too large.
- Forward positioning of your chin. Can be retrogenic (too far back) or progenic (too far forward).
- The thickness of your chin’s soft tissue chin pad.
The gonial angle of the ideal jaw should be prominent, defined, and around 125 degrees or less for men. A larger gonial angle means your jaw is probably sinking due to mouth breathing and posterior rotational growth.
The male mandible is wider by the gonial angle and overall larger than the female mandible. The gonial region in men is more angular. The ramus drops straight down and turns forward sharply. But in women, the gonial curve is much more gradual and gentle.
The inferior border of the jawline should be prominent and clearly defined, creating a clear separation between the face and neck. If this is absent, it could be due to:
- an increased gonial angle
- a jaw with too much posterior rotational growth (increased mandibular plane angle)
- a reduced mandible length
- excess tissue/fat
- or any combination of the above
Two maxillae bones and two zygomatic bones (cheekbones) compose the midface. The nasoorbitoethmoidal complex consists of all your sinuses. It shields your brain from the forces of chewing.
When the midface isn’t projecting forward, it’s called midfacial recession or sagittal maxillary deficiency. This leads to a lack of support for your eyes, where the inferior orbital rim (lower eye bone) is too low and you get a saggy eye area with dark bags. In a side profile view, the most forward part of the upper eye bone should be 2-3 mm in front of the lower eye bone.
Assuming relaxed eyelids and a forward gaze in a normal midface, the sclera of the eyes should not be visible below the irises. However, if the sclera is visible, that’s due to midface deficiency causing retrusion of the orbital rim (lower eye bone).
Take a wet cotton ball, squeeze it so that it’s 5-6 mm. thick and then place it under the upper lip. Then, if you think you look better from a side profile view, you might have midfacial recession and might benefit from maxillary advancement surgery.
The midfacial curvilinear contour line originates from the soft tissues above the zygomatic arch and:
- goes forward along the arch
- forward and towards the middle of the face to the subpupil region under the eye
- over the soft tissues of the cheek
- down to the region next to the nose
- backward and to the side leading to the side of the upper lip
- and then ends to the side of the oral commissure (corner of the mouth where the upper and lower lips meet).
It is this line that is responsible for the appearance of prominent cheekbones and what is known as the ogee curve. Midfacial recession (seen above in purple) leads to a concave curvilinear contour line when it should be convex.
The cheeks are supported by the maxilla, malar bones, malar muscles, subcutaneous tissues, the malar fat bad and the buccal fat pad. The buccal fat pad is independent of the degree of overall body fat, though it does decrease with age. Depending on how thin it is, it can contribute to the hollowed cheeks look. Sometimes buccal fat pad removal achieves this look, but again, keep in mind that it also decreases with age, so you don’t want your surgeon to overdo removal of the buccal fat. As you age, the fat pad drops, increasing cheek volume on the outside of the jaw, leading to the appearance of jowling. Also, the midfacial fat will atrophy, the midfacial soft tissues will drop, and your cheeks will have a concave look similar to jowling anyway, which is a normal part of the aging process.
Ideal Jaw Proportions:
To find out if your jaw is normal, you should take front and side profile photos of your head in the natural head position. This is difficult to get exactly right outside of a doctor’s office, so some of your dimensions will appear to be off.
Here are some jaw proportions that can tell you how close you are to normal/ideal:
Ramus Height to Mandibular Body Length (5:7)
Maxillary Length to Mandibular Body Length (2:3)
Anterior Cranial Base Length to Mandibular Body Length (1:1)
Normal values (mm):
Mandibular Body Length: 119 ± 5
Ramus Height: 59 ± 4
Anterior Cranial Base Length: 72 ± 3
Facial Width To Height Ratio (FWHR)
One of the best indicators of facial attractiveness is the facial width to height ratio (FWHR). Measure the width of your face by the widest part near zygomatic bones (bizygomatic width) and divide it by your facial height from your lip and brow. The higher this ratio is, the more people perceive you as dominant and aggressive.
There have been several studies done on FWHR. The significance of the FWHR is that it is correlated with the following qualities:
– Being perceived as dominant and fearless.
– Being perceived as more aggressive.
– Less likely to die from physical violence.
– More financially successful.
– Better at team sports.
– More psychopathic.
– Being more willing to cheat.
– More willing to exploit/deceive people.
– Having more success with women for casual short term relationships.
– Better chances of fathering children & reproducing.
The last two qualities tell us pretty much all we need to know, and that a higher FWHR is ideal. The best FWHR is between 1.8 and 2. Too low and you’re perceived as weak due to your long face. Conversely, too high and you look weird, but you’d still look better than if you were too low. A high FWHR is also attractive on women.
The bigonial width is the distance between the two gonions of your jaw:
Basically, this is the “width” of your jaw when viewed from the front. The normal bigonial width is 99-113 mm. for men and 90-100 mm. for women. The bigonial width should be around 80-85% of the bizygomatic width (widest part of your face by your cheekbones).
Malocclusion occurs when the mandibular body length is either too long or too short, leading to an overbite or underbite. There are 3 classes of malocclusion which orthodontic surgeons normally treat.
The mandibular plane angle can determine how “long” your face is. Mainly, a face is long when the maxilla and/or mandible have sunk enough to mess up your proportions. If your mandibular plane angle is too high you have a hyperdivergent facial growth pattern aka. “long face”. If it’s too low you have a hypodivergent facial growth pattern aka short face. The ideal mandibular plane angle for men is 26 degrees.
The lips are an extremely important part of your lower third. It’s the part that the opposite sex wants to kiss. For men, you just don’t want the lips to be too thin and wispy. Ideally, you’d have a macho mouth look. See our article to learn how to get fuller lips for guys where we’ll teach you how to attain this.
The hyoid bone is a free-floating bone that supports the tongue:
Its positioning has a huge impact on your facial profile. It should be about the same level as the chin. Otherwise, it will give a double chin appearance, even if the person is not overweight.
The angle between your mandible and your neck is the submental-cervical angle. This angle is determined by both body fat and the hyoid bone position. Having a low set hyoid bone also contributes to sleep apnea.
The positioning of the hyoid bone is essentially determined by genetics and also by proper tongue posture during development. Moving your tongue to the roof of your mouth contracts the muscles that move your hyoid up. If you have a lifetime of proper tongue positioning, it’s unlikely you will have a low hyoid. For more information on mitigating the disastrous consequences a low hyoid can have on your looks and facial profile, check out our article on the hyoid bone and how to get rid of the double chin.
The chin should be harmonious with the rest of your facial features because it determines the facial profile and facial angle. If your chin is receded or over-projecting it could be due to the following:
- the forward position of your mandible
- the size of your mandible
- the size/position of your bony chin
- anterior/posterior rotation of the mandible
- the thickness of your chin’s soft tissue pad, etc.
However, if your protruding chin is due to prognathic mandible (protruding jaw), then you need mandibular osteotomy (your jawbone is cut and moved back). Maybe your protruding chin is just from excess bone on the chin itself, in which case you need a horizontal reduction genioplasty to shave bone off your chin. Or your jaw could be too set back and your chin too large, in which case you’d get mandibular advancement and genioplasty to shave off the bone.
You should discuss this with your surgeon. Make sure you find someone experienced and accredited in these types of surgeries. They should have plenty of reviews and before/after pictures of actual patients that they’ll actually show you.
How to Get a Good Jawline
The biggest impact a beard can have is to increase the perceived size of your jaw. Growing out a beard can fix a recessed/weak jaw. Any mandibular deficiency that exists is literally filled in by beard hair.
Dan Bilzerian’s beard helps him look extremely dominant but it also mitigates the appearance of his overly long midface.
By making the jaw appear larger, the overall proportions of his face appear closer to normal.
The main exercises you can do for your jaw is mewing, which is a long term strategy, and gum chewing, which yields short term and long term results. Starting when you’re young will yield the best results for either of these exercises. It’s difficult to change bones in adulthood, but still possible over years and decades.
Mewing is literally just proper tongue posture. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have it, and we have to ingrain the habit into our everyday lives, which isn’t an easy process. Proper tongue posture basically consists of keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth, especially the back third of your tongue.
The upward force generated by mewing will act on your cheekbones and cause them to become prominent, increasing your FWHR. The upwards force of your tongue also pushes down on your ramus, which will increase your gonial angle. The masseter muscles are the antagonist muscles to the tongue. Mewing therefore also activates the masseter muscles and over time can lead to a larger jaw.
For more information on mewing, check out our Ultimate Mewing Guide.
These pictures compare a prehistoric human’s teeth to that of a modern human. You can see that the prehistoric human has worn down teeth. Years of chewing tough foods has really filed them down. In ancient times, we had to work really hard to get the nutrients out of our food. But now our diet contains soft carbohydrates that require almost no work on our part.
Chewing gum will make up for this. It will increase the size of our masseter muscle, leading to the appearance of a larger jaw. But there are two important points about this exercise you need to understand to realize why it’s one of the most important things you can do for your jawline:
- This isn’t necessarily an exercise for life. You’ll always be chewing food, so the gains that you get from gum chewing are essentially permanent, with little to no upkeep.
- The bone will actually proliferate on your gonial angle in response to the stress placed by the masseter muscle from chewing. In contrast, patients with muscular dystrophy have very underdeveloped gonial angles. But changing your actual bone structure will require years, if not a decade, of consistent chewing.
I recommend Falim gum. It’s dirt cheap, hard, and has no sugar, although it doesn’t taste great. Start slow. If you get pain in your jaw joint, you’ve gone too far. Do this as often as you can, and rest your jaw as well, just like you would with muscles you work out at the gym. Work up to several hours per day. Or start with normal gum if you don’t chew gum at all.
If you haven’t heard of fillers, it is a type of gel that can be injected deep into the facial tissue. The beautiful thing about them is that they are made of a substance that our body produces naturally as well (hyaluronic acid). If you get a result you don’t like, the filler can also be easily dissolved, unlike with plastic surgery.
A canula (think of an IV) is inserted into your face and pumped with this filler. It stings a little bit, but it’s not bad when you consider the fact that you’re not getting plastic surgery.
Fillers can fill out defects, or augment certain features.
In the above picture, the injector did a good job of adding mass to the existing bone, and the patient has gained a more pronounced jawline. The downside is that this is almost prohibitively expensive when you have to use that much filler. If I had to guess, this cost thousands of dollars at the least. On top of that, you’ll have to get it topped off every 4 months. An implant would be a better choice by this point.
Even worse, filler isn’t good at holding its shape. The above picture was taken right after injection and looks great. Within days, I’d venture to say the patient lost much of his sharpness.
However, if you go the filler route, you want an injector that knows the differences between male and female facial structure. You want someone who’s good at using filler to augment, instead of “fill in” existing features. But this can be challenging with fillers because they’re inherently a soft substance. They’re not ideal for augmentation or making hard edges.
Jaw surgeries are done by oral and maxillofacial surgeons and plastic surgeons. With surgeries for your jaw, it helps to have a medical reason to get it done, such as sleep apnea or malocclusion.
The most common surgery to fix your jaw is the LeFort I to fix jaw malocclusion. Most of the time a truly recessed jaw will indeed cause health problems, and you’ll be able to get it covered by insurance. If this applies to you, getting this surgery should be your number one priority if you want to optimize your looks.
However, a different type of surgery that could be more beneficial is distraction osteogenesis. This is a surgery that forces your body to grow its own bone. The surgeon creates a fracture and installs an appliance that gradually moves the fracture further and further apart. The body attempts to heal and fill in the gap, and the bone increases in length. If you’re trying to get cosmetic jaw surgery, this is preferable to the standard LeFort surgeries which don’t require as much skill. My recommendation is to find a surgeon very skilled in and with lots of experience in distraction osteogenesis.
The video below goes into more detail about distraction osteogenesis:
With whatever surgery you pick, keep in mind that you’re looking at 3 months of brutal recovery, possibly having to eat through a straw the whole time. In addition, though it will make you look better, it won’t completely transform you or make you look like a different person.