Why Is Kogao (Small Face) Such an Important Japanese Beauty Ideal?

  • “Your face is so small!” – If you are a foreigner receiving this comment from a Japanese person, you may be confused as to whether the person is insulting you or complimenting you. Rest assured, it is the latter so you should be flattered. A small, oval-shaped face with V-line jaw is the embodiment of femininity and delicateness. Pretty much all young women and sometimes even young men in Japan desire to have small faces known as kogao.

    The golden ratio: Hattou shin

    According to the concept of hattou shin, ideally a person’s head should be one-eighth of the total height. The upper half of the body should be equivalent to the total length of three heads while the legs should be as long as 4 heads. This translates to a person having a small face and long legs which are desirable in Japan.

    How to achieve the small-face look “naturally”

    If you are not blessed with a small face and you desire to reduce the size of your face, the only truly effective way is through surgery to reduce the size of your jawline and cheekbones. If you are not willing to subject yourself to undergo such gruesome surgery, there are other methods you can consider which could potentially make your face a little smaller or, at least, give the illusion of a smaller face.

    Facial wraps

    Facial bras, face saunas, face belts, etc are basically face wraps which you use to wrap and tighten up your face. There are a few varieties of such products. Some wraps may only cover your jaw line but others cover up nearly your entire face so you risk looking like Hannibal Lecter. The facial wraps may seem ridiculous to put on so you may only want to wear them to sleep or when you are with people who love and accept you for whatever you are.

    Mouthpiece for slimming

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    This mouthpiece works to exercise the muscles of your cheeks. To use this, you need to pop in the mouthpiece and then make mouth movements such as saying out vowel sounds. It will not only work to make your face slimmer but also reduce sagging skin.

    Shokkaku hairstyle

    Shokkaku hairstyle (literally antenna hairstyle in English) is where two long strands of hair frame the sides of the face. Idols can be seen rocking this hairstyle often. The thicker the strands that frame your cheeks, the slimmer your face would look.

    Pose by placing your hand on your cheek

    This pose is also known as mushiba pozu, or “cavity pose”. Obviously, you can’t do this all the time so it is not a long term solution. This pose is great for when you want to have a slimmer face in photos. The hand partially covers the jaw line which makes your face looks slimmer which is similar to the effect caused by the shokkaku hairstyle.

    Do you agree that small faces look better? While I do not prefer large faces, I do not think there is an obvious distinction between small faces and average-sized faces. Would you try the methods above to make your face appear smaller?