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HomeminewsAustralian Face Shapes Redefined

Australian Face Shapes Redefined

Traditional typologies used to describe Australian face shapes are archaic and do not reflect the diversity of the country’s population, according to world leading facial recognition scientist Dr. Kendra Schmid, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Nebraska.

A study conducted by Dr. Schmid and OPSM found that five new face shapes – kite, rectangle, teardrop, heptagon and oblong – need to be added to the traditionally referenced four face shapes – round, oval, square and heart.

The findings reflect the diversity of Australia where almost one in four Australian residents was born outside of Australia and many more are first or second generation Australians. This, coupled with the country’s Indigenous population, makes the nation’s people one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world.1

To complete the study, OPSM commissioned Yvan Rodic also known as ‘FaceHunter’, a Swiss street-style photographer who travels the world photographing people at cultural events and fashion events to capture images of 1,000 unique Australian faces from Sydney to Broome, Darwin to Melbourne. Additionally, OPSM collected images from local photographers.

The portfolio of images was then analysed by Dr. Schmid, looking at symmetry, the distance between certain parts of the face and proportions using a formula based on 29 points on the face and 14 measurements between those points.

Kite, a new shape, was Australia’s most common, shared by over 20 per cent of the population; followed by heart (20.3 per cent), rectangle (16.2 per cent) and oval (13.5 per cent), with round (11 per cent) completing the top five most common shapes. Rarer typologies, teardrop, square, heptagon and oblong combined, relate to just under 1 in 5.2

Speaking of the findings, Dr. Schmid, said, “The most surprising thing for me was the diversity in the face shapes – I did not expect to find nine distinct groups. It was interesting to classify the new, rarer types such as teardrop, heptagon and oblong. Although reflecting a relatively small percentage of Australians (5 per cent or less each), all have very distinct features that set them apart from more common groups.

“Kite and heart shapes, which together represent over 40 per cent of the population, typify the ‘average’ Australian face shape. These shapes demonstrate a trend seen in at least three quarters of faces – a narrower lower half of the face, decreasing in width from the cheekbones progressively through to the jawline and chin. Prominent jawlines are reasonably rare in Australians,” she said.

In previous research most Australians identified their own face shape as oval (51 per cent), followed by round (22 per cent), square (8 per cent) and heart (4 per cent). The remaining 14 per cent were unsure. On top of this, respondents were most likely to choose “other” when given the option,2 affirming the ambiguity of the old system, which Stewart Walton, Senior Director Optical Frames and Sunglasses for OPSM said, “seemed to haphazardly shoehorn people into groups”.

“The most commonly misdiagnosed face shape was oval,” said Mr. Walton. “In fact the research shows only 14 per cent of the population have an oval face, despite a majority surveyed (51 per cent) referencing oval as their face shape.2 From both a buying and in-store styling perspective, the nine shapes are much more meaningful and usable.

“When choosing frames, opt for styles to balance prominent features. For instance, kite shapes should choose frames with a defined bottom to balance a wider upper face; and round shapes can balance soft features with angular frames that sit beneath the brow line to create an illusion of length,” he said.

OPSM will use results from the study to inform product selection.


1. “Our People” Australian Government http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/our-country/our-people

2. OPSM Question Your Vision Report 2013. The study was conducted among 1,269 Australians aged 18-64 years