“With trembling fingers, I trace her jawline, such a geometric mystery

of celestial design.”[1]J.R. Hayes

A heavenly jawline! Few quotes or lyrics, like the one above, offer visions of jawlines designed by God. Generally, they are not discussed much at all. When they are, they are characterized as nice, beautiful, sharp, strong, craggy, or chiseled, but most of those descriptors refer to male jawlines.  Rosario Dawson, speaking of her strong female jawline, characterized it as manly.[2] Some even offer jawline exercises to get that “chiseled” look. As regards females with strong jawlines, Olivia Wilde, Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, and Jennifer Anniston are some of the top vote getters.

Did you notice in the list of strong female jawlines, there wasn’t one single mention of Judy Dench, Betty White, or Angelica Houston?

Medical professionals, who specialize in ageing related to the face, divide the face into three sections: 1) the upper third, consisting of the forehead and the brows; 2) the middle third, consisting of the nose, eyes, and lips; 3) and the lower third, consisting of the chin, jawline, and neck. Major factors in the ageing process relate to effects of gravity, structural changes, loss of skin elasticity, and redistribution of the fat underneath the skin. All combine to change the appearance of the face.[3]

What happens to a jawline as it ages?

The foundation of the jawline is the underlying bone structure.[4] As we age, our jawlines lose some definition[5] because our bones lose some of their density. Moreover, the angle of the lower jaw is reduced, according to a study published in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery January 2011 issue.[6] According to Dr. Robert Shaw Jr. at the University of Rochester Medical Center, “A nice, strong jawline is something people see as youthful, but as you get older the angle gets more blunted.”[7]

The mechanism that keeps our bones regenerating themselves are active cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts. The osteoclasts break down old bone and the osteoblasts synergize new bone. Dr. Shaw states that as we age, the creation of new bone doesn’t work as well, which means that more is taken away than is put back. Thus, we lose the bone density we had when we were young.[8]

Dr. Phillip Haeck, President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, identifies factors other than bone loss that spur the changes in our faces, as we get older. One of these is the volume loss of soft tissue.[9] Due to loss of skin elasticity and redistribution of fat underneath the skin, the jawline sags, creating a double chin, and the skin underneath the jawline loses the battle with gravity, giving way to what is called turkey neck. Jowls, or pockets of fat that have dropped below the jawline on either side of the corners of the mouth, appear, and occasionally cobblestone skin or lumps appear under the skin’s surface on the chin.[10] According to Joe Niamtu III DMD, when the sagging occurs on either side of the corners of the mouth, the corners of the mouth turn down, giving the appearance of a sad or angry look.[11] No one considers this change pleasing.

The ages at which these changes occur in the lower face vary. The sagging of the skin along the jawline and the jowls usually appear in the late forties and early fifties, become more pronounced beginning in the sixties, and grow even more pronounced the older we get. A crease, known technically as the bucco-mandibular[12] crease (located above the lower jaw), can appear as early as the late thirties and then elevate in the years beyond.[13]

The causes of ageing are many. Genetics usually play a role, along with external factors like overexposure to sun.[14] Even if we are careful about protection from the sun, to appear more youthful, some may visit tanning beds, which can be just as harmful as sun exposure.[15] The ageing process is also influenced by other factors. As we age, our hormones change and may become unbalanced. Lastly, external factors, over which sometimes we have little control or choose not to control, can include disease, mental stress, drug abuse, work habits, and diet.[16]

The thing to remember as you age is that you want to be your best self, the youngest self you can be. Your jawline should be as heavenly as possible.

Can you have a more youthful jawline? Discuss your particular situation with your doctor.


[1] J.R. Hayes. Sourheart Lyrics. 2018. https://genius.com/Pig-destroyer-sourheart-lyrics. (11 July 2018).

[2] Rosario Dawson Quotes. Brainy Quote. 2018. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/rosario_dawson_479868. (11 July 2018).

[3] Sidney R. Coleman, MD and Rajiv Grover, BSc, MB, BS, MD, FRCS. “The Anatomy of the Aging Face: Volume Loss and Changes in 3-Dimensional Topography.” Aesthetic Surgery Journal. Vol. 26, Issue 1 Supplement. 1 January 2006, Pages S4-S9. https://academic.oup.com/asj/article-abstract/26/1_Supplement/S4/223473?redirectedFrom=fulltext. (11 July 2018).

[4] Howard N, Langstein MD, quoted in “Facial Aging is More Than Skin Deep.” University of Rochester Medical Center. 23 March 2010. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/2800/facial-aging-is-more-than-skin-deep.aspx. (11 July 2018).

[5] “Facial Aging is More Than Skin Deep.” University of Rochester Medical Center. 23 March 2010. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/2800/facial-aging-is-more-than-skin-deep.aspx. (11 July 2018).

[6] Jenifer Goodwin. “Age Takes a Toll on Facial Bones, Study Finds.” Health Day. 7 January 2011. https://consumer.healthday.com/senior-citizen-information-31/misc-aging-news-10/age-takes-toll-on-facial-bones-study-finds-648608.html. (11 July 2018).

[7] Goodwin.

[8] Goodwin.

[9] Goodwin.

[10] Brandith Irwin MD. “Sagging Jaw Line, Jowls and Chin Issues.” 2018. https://www.skintour.com/face-focus/jaw-line-and-chin-issues/. (11 July 2018).

[11] Joe Niamtu III, DMD. “Turning the Frown Upside Down.” 17 February 2013. https://www.lovethatface.com/2012/07/01/turning-the-frown-upside-down/. (22 August 2018).

[12] J. Iwanaga et al. “A New Space of the Face: The Bucco-mandibular Space.” National Institutes of Health. 22 August 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28762568. (22 August 2017).

[13] Manavpreet Kaur, Rakesh K. Garg, and Sanjeev Singla. “Analysis of Facial Soft Tissue Changes with Aging and Their Effects on Facial Morphology: A Forensic Perspective.” Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences. Volume 5, Issue 2, June 2015, Pages 46-56. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2090536X14000501. (11 July 2018).

[14] Goodwin.

[15] Goodwin.

[16] Coleman and Grover.