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TikTok Says Your Canthal Tilt Determines How Attractive You Are — Beauty Pros Uncover the Grain of Truth In the Claim

Discover how the way your outer eye tilts relative to your inner eye shapes the way others view you

Ever take a good look at your eyes and think, ‘wow I look so tired.’ Us too. And we’re used to blaming dark circles, puffiness and redness for making us look that way, but in yet another odd phenomenon to come out of the land of TikTok, posters are saying your canthal tilt, the angle between your inner eye and your outer eye, may be to blame. And the hype is all based on a special filter you can use to figure out which way your canthal tilt slants and TikTokers are debating the difference between a positive and negative canthal tilt and how it makes your eyes appear sharper and younger or more tired and sad.

But before you rush to the mirror in a panic to figure out which way yours slants and what that means, we polled the experts on just how a canthal tilt affects how others perceive you and what you can do to enhance yours.

What exactly is a canthal tilt?

A canthal tilt, also known as the fox-eyed look, describes the angle between your inner eye and your outer eye. A positive canthal tint is when the outer corner of the eye is five to eight degrees higher than the inside corner. Conversely, negative means the outside corner of the eye is five to eight degrees lower than the inside corner.

Two twin sisters with different canthal tilts to their eyes
Twin sisters with different canthal tilt: The sister on the left is slightly down; the sister on the right is slightly upzeynep boğoçlu/Getty Images

“A person with a positive canthal tilt is objectively defined as having a more youthful appearance than someone with a negative canthal tilt. When the outer corner of your eye is below the inner corner, a negative angle, it can make you appear more tired,” explains Ari Hoschander, M.D. and board-certified plastic surgeon based in New York City.

The phenomenon has even been scientifically studied. In 2007, researchers studied natural faces and those modified through Photoshop to have a more positive canthal tilt. They found that the faces with the upward slanting canthal tilt were preferred 93% of the time over the others. 

There’s even a website dedicated to pinpointing more attractive celebs due to their positive canthal tilt. In case you’re wondering, these include Helen Hunt and Marilyn Monroe. 

(To learn more about what certain eyes say about a person, click through here to read about Sanpaku Eyes? How They Can Help You Spot a Liar, Psychopath or Narcissist)

Interestingly, your canthal tilt can change with age: “People naturally lose elasticity in the skin around their eyes over time,” explains Dr. Hoschander. Plus, lifestyle factors like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption as well as excessive sun exposure without proper sunscreen can also cause the skin to get lax and the eyes to tilt to the negative.

How to determine your canthal tint

If you have TikTok (we don’t either) it’s as easy as pulling up the canthal tilt filter. Otherwise, to figure out which one you are, take a photo of yourself while keeping your head at a natural angle. This can be done by facing a mirror and snapping a photo or taking a “selfie” style photo (just be sure to hold the phone directly across from your head and don’t look down or up at it). You also may want to zoom in or crop the photo so you can best see your eyes.

After you take the picture, draw a line from the outside side of your eye to the middle of your eye from both eyes. If the line is slanted upward, you have a positive tilt. If it’s slanted downwards, it’s negative and if it’s straight across, it’s neutral.

Writer Jene Luciani Sena testing out her canthal tilt
Writer Jené Luciani Sena tests out her canthal tilt, it’s neutral.

To see more on how the filter works, watch this video:

Can you do anything to change your canthal tilt?

Most experts say the only ones really paying attention are those trying the filters in TikTok and which way you canthal tilt slants is irrelevant to what determines a person’s attractiveness. That being said, if you want to make your eyes look brighter and more awake, there are fixes.

To change your tilt surgically:

According to Dr. Hoschander, given this recent trend, he has seen in upswing in patients who have wanted to change the angle of their canthal tilt. Women with a positive canthal tilt are seen as more feminine, desirable and youthful. Many women want to give off a younger appearance, so they care about the angle of their eyes. The angle helps with self-confidence in women, which is why people have started caring more,” he explains.

As a result, you can undergo a specific blepharoplasty (or aesthetic eyelid surgery) to change the angle or tilt of their eyes and raise them so they have a more positive canthal tilt. “During this procedure, skin and tissue are removed from the lower and upper eyelids to improve the appearance,” says Dr. Hoschander. While previously, this procedure was used to remove bags from under the eyes or fix hooded eyes, which can occur as we age, people are now asking for it to achieve that of-the-moment fox-eyed look. 

But as with any other invasive procedure, it comes with risks. “Blepharoplasty is a very safe procedure, but some complications are still associated with the surgery. Many of eyelid surgery’s side effects are temporary and can be expected. These include blurred vision, sensitivity to light, swelling and bruising of the eyelid area and pain or discomfort. The cost of blepharoplasty is affected by the techniques, the anesthesia used and the total time needed to perform the surgery,” warns Dr. Hoschander. 

To change your tilt with makeup:

If going under the knife for something so trivial seems extreme, professional makeup artist Genn Shaughnessy, who has worked with celebrities like Christina Hendricks, says you can change the angle of your canthal tilt through your makeup application.

“First, let me start by saying your eye shape does not quantify your beauty or level of attractiveness,” says Shaughnessy. “But what I will say is for clients who are looking for ways to brighten up their face and look younger and more awake, I always make sure that eyeshadow, liner and the cat eye effect doesn’t go past the line from the inner corner of the nose through the outer corner of the eye; past the neutral tilt,” she advises.

“Anything that extends past that makes people look tired and ages them. So by not extending makeup past that, you’ll give the eyes a lift, awaken them and take years off your appearance. The same goes for eyebrows; their tail should end at that same line for the same reason.” 

Photo of makeup artist Genn Shaughnessy showing the angle to apply makeup on eyes.
Shaughnessy (seen here) says you can use medical tape to determine where the outer corner of your nose is compared to the outer corner of your eye and where your makeup should stop. Genn Shaughnessy

Shaughnessy’s easy steps to fake a positive canthal tilt: 

  1. Apply eye cream around your eye area (avoiding the eyelids and lash line) and follow with an eyeshadow primer, like Ilia’s Natural Brightening Eye Primer (Buy from Ilia, $24) in a very thin layer across your eyelid right up onto the beginning of your eyebrows, anywhere you’re going to apply eyeshadow. Shaughnessy says this will prevent your eyeshadow from flaking off and help make it last.
  2. Apply your eyebrow highlight in a color slightly lighter than your natural skin tone using a fluffy blending brush. Then, you’ll need a tapered crease brush to apply a darker color to your crease and apply it from the outer corner of your eye to about the midpoint of your eyelid, avoiding the eyelid itself. This brush should be small enough to fit between your eyelid and where your eyelid would normally retract. 
  3. Apply your main shadow using a shadow brush. This eye shadow color will be lighter than your crease color but darker than your brow highlight color. “Again, there are so many variables to consider when choosing colors, textures and types of eyeshadow, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all,” advises Shaughnessy. Blend well so there’s no harsh lines. 
  4. Apply eyeliner to the upper lid following the lines as instructed above, ending with a slight upward slope. Finish with two coats of mascara, emphasizing the upper lashes. 

With all the eye shapes and sizes, there is no perfect eyeshadow tutorial that will work for everyone reading this, says Shaughnessy. “But the key takeaway is to keep your eye makeup above this line. You’ll notice immediately how much more awake and younger you look.”

Anna Traver is an assistant fashion and beauty editor at Woman’s World and First for Women. She earned her bachelors degree in journalism and public relations from Michigan State University in 2023. Her past experience includes bylines in Elite Daily, Romper, The Zoe Report and USA Today. She also was the previous Editor-in-Chief of VIM Magazine, the award-winning student-run fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazine.

To learn more about making your eyes look younger:

51-Year-Old News Anchor Shares Fake Eyelashes Trick To Make Her Eyes Look Less Droopy

Bette Davis De-Puffed Her Eyes Using Cucumber and Vaseline

5 Makeup Tips That Lift and Brighten Tired Eyes

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