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The eyes have a way of capturing our attention; they are usually the first thing we notice in people, and some even say that they are the windows of the soul. But what is it about defined eyes that is so attractive? Some people are blessed with thick, dark lashes and wide eyes, but for the rest of us, makeup can be used to get a similar look. But what, exactly, is the reason the standard is set to having Elizabeth Taylor’s lush lashes and big eyes?
Defined Eyes Are All About Youth
It all starts on a biological level; defined eyes are attractive to us because they are a sign of fertility and youth.
Each of us is born with a limbal ring around each eye. The limbal ring is the part of the eye that separates the iris (colored part) from the sclera (white part). It is comprised of a thick black ring and is nature’s form of eyeliner. As we age, our limbal rings often get smaller and lighter, losing some of their eye defining effects. As humans, we find defined eyes attractive because it is a sign of health and youth, which are both reproductively in our favor. The limbal ring is its thickest from infancy to your early twenties, which is when women are most fertile (Evolutionary Psychology). When you line your eyes, it draws more attention to your limbal ring.
Your other natural eyeliner, eyelashes, are also a sign of youth. Much like the rest of your hair, your eyelashes tend to be thickest and healthiest when you’re younger. This is another sign of fertility and health that makes you more attractive.
Big Eyes and Symmetry Mean More Attractive
Defining eyes with makeup has the ability to make our eyes appear larger, which has also been associated with attractiveness in women. In a study where males rated females on attractiveness, things such as large eyes, prominent cheekbones, and thick lips were found to be the most attractive facial features across the board
Bigger eyes have also been associated with desirable personality traits such as honesty; there seems to be a phenomenon of wide-eyed-innocence which is closely related to naivety and youth. Because youth is considered an attractive trait in women, it would make sense that we would associate the traits of youth with someone who looks youthful. Since large eyes, as well as defined eyes, are considered signs of youth, it makes sense that if a woman had one, she’d likely have the other (Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin). And since both of these are associated with youth, vitality, and innocence, it makes sense that she would be considered attractive.
Facial symmetry has also been noted as an attractive trait in women. Studies using identical twins have shown that the twin with more symmetrical facial features is consistently rated as the more attractive one (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Defining eyes has the ability to make a face seem more symmetrical.
There’s Historical Precedent for Defined Eyes
Defined eyes also have been associated with resistance to disease and protection from environmental factors. The Ancient Egyptians were well aware of this; Cleopatra and King Tut were just a few of the ones who used dark eye makeup.
This ancient makeup was made using lead chlorides. Research has shown that the compounds present in the eye makeup boosted the production of nitric oxide in the skin of those who wore it, helping to boost the strength of the immune system. Because of this, those who wore the black eye make up were often disease-free, and led longer and healthier lives than those who went bare faced (Review of Optometry).
Don’t Have Large, Defined Eyes? Fake Them!
If you’re looking to fake these indicators of health and fertility, you have a few options. First, a good eyeliner is a must. In a test we did on durability, we found that Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Mat ($17.23, amazon.com) lasted the longest and was the most durable. If you want tips on how to line your eyes for your eye shape, check out our post on how to best line your eye.
Next, get your best lashes. For temporary lashes get a good volume-boosting mascara, like LashControl Volumizing 2X Black Mascara ($20, amazon.com). You might even consider false eyelashes. You can go for a full set with something like Ardell Fashion Lashes ($10.49 for four sets, amazon.com) or individual lashes with something like Ardell Duralash Naturals ($8.97 for three packs, amazon.com).
Defined eyes are attractive because they generally are a sign of health and fertility. Whether it’s the limbal ring around your eye, a thick set of eyelashes, or big eyes, a defined eye tells someone looking at you that you’re young and fertile. And throughout history, a defined eye could even help to improve health, which definitely makes someone more attractive.
With all that has been seen in the eyes, it’s no wonder that we pay so much attention to them.