Leonardo Da Vinci spent a lifetime trying to paint one. Scientists and mathematicians have puzzled for centuries over what makes one, while cosmetic surgeons have amassed fortunes striving to create one.
And Florence Colgate? Well, she simply has one.
The 18-year-old student is blessed with what is described as the perfect face. It matches an international blueprint for the optimum ratio between eyes, mouth, forehead and chin, endowing her with flawless proportions.
In theory, that needn’t necessarily cause her to appear anything more than symmetrical (in which department, incidentally, she is also faultless).
But the blue-eyed blonde’s mathematical dimensions have just added up to success in a competition to find Britain’s most naturally beautiful face.
Florence, who has a Saturday job in a seaside chip shop in between studying for her A-levels, beat 8,000 entrants to win the title. Contestants were judged without make-up and were barred entry if they had had plastic surgery or chemical enhancement.
Locals wryly suggested it was the sea air in the Dover Grammar schoolgirl’s home town of Deal, Kent, which contributed to her success, or possibly a secret ingredient in Middle Street Fish Bar’s chips.
But it is the scientific definition of beauty – not to mention a healthy portion of beauty genes from her mother – which gave Florence the crown.
A woman’s face is said to be most attractive when the space between her pupils is just under half the width of her face from ear to ear. Florence scores a 44 per cent ratio. Experts also believe the relative distance between eyes and mouth should be just over a third of the measurement from hairline to chin. Florence’s ratio is 32.8 per cent.
Singer Shania Twain and actresses Liz Hurley and Jessica Alba are ranked among perfectly formed celebrities. Samantha Brick, who caused an international debate after proclaiming women hate her because she is beautiful, is not.
And to top it off, Florence’s face is almost perfectly symmetrical, which is also scientifically linked with beauty.
The proportional beauty theory has been around ever since Da Vinci applied visionary thinking and mathematical genius to describing the perfect face more than half a millennium ago.
For Florence, it became reality when friends, family and chip shop customers persuaded her to enter a competition run by ITV’s Lorraine programme to highlight natural beauty and encourage women to be proud of their natural look.
Florence, who normally wears light foundation and mascara and admits to using concealer and Vaseline, won a trip to a London model agency and will appear on billboards and posters in Superdrug stores across the country.
She says she would love to have a career in modelling (model Agyness Deyn once worked in a chip shop too) – but is currently studying business, geography and psychology and intends to do business management at university.
‘Women should not have to feel that they have to wear make-up,’ she said. ‘I hope people will look at me and think they don’t need to. I’m very happy with the way I look and I would never have any plastic surgery or Botox.’
Carmen Lefèvre, from the University of St Andrews perception laboratory in the School of Psychology, said beauty is strongly linked to symmetry. ‘Florence has all the classic signs of beauty,’ she added. ‘She has large eyes, high cheekbones, full lips and a fair complexion. Symmetry appears to be a very important cue to attractiveness.
‘Although we don’t realise it in everyday interactions, in most people’s faces the right and left half are actually quite different.’
Symmetry alone was not a substitute for beauty, she conceded. On the face of it, however, it seems to work perfectly for Florence.