The age at which a person’s face is fully developed can vary quite a bit between individuals. However, research has identified some general timelines for facial development that apply to most people.
Key Facial Development Stages
Here are some of the key stages in facial development:
- Infancy – The basic facial structure is formed in infancy. The size and shape of facial features are largely determined by genetics.
- Early childhood – Facial growth is most rapid between ages 2-6. The jaw and midface grow quickly during this time.
- Late childhood – Facial growth continues but slows down between ages 6-12. The nose, lips and chin grow during this stage.
- Adolescence – The most growth occurs during the adolescent growth spurt around ages 12-16. The nose, chin, brows, and jaws change shape during puberty.
- Early adulthood – Facial features continue to refine into the early 20s. The last areas to mature are usually the chin and nose.
When Is Facial Growth Complete?
Most experts agree that the face is fully developed by the late teens or early 20s. However, there is some disagreement on the exact age:
- Age 15-16 – Some research suggests facial growth is complete around ages 15-16 for females and 16-17 for males.
- Age 18-20 – Other studies have found that the face continues to change into the late teens and early 20s, reaching full maturity around age 18-20.
- Age 25 – A few experts believe the face may not be fully developed until the mid-20s, around age 25.
So while most facial growth is complete by the late teens, the consensus is that some final maturation may continue into the early or even mid-20s.
Factors That Influence Facial Maturity
There are a few factors that can impact the timing of full facial development:
- Genetics – Facial features are largely determined by genetics. Some people’s faces may mature earlier or later based on hereditary factors.
- Nutrition – Poor childhood nutrition can delay growth and maturation. A healthy, balanced diet supports normal development.
- Environment – Environmental factors like smoking or air pollution may impact growth. A healthy environment promotes normal maturation.
- Health issues – Chronic health conditions or growth disorders can affect the timing of facial development.
- Gender – Faces tend to mature slightly later in males compared to females, by around 1-2 years on average.
- Ethnicity – Average maturation timing can vary slightly between different ethnic groups.
Facial Changes From Youth to Maturity
Here is an overview of some of the facial changes that occur from childhood to full maturity:
- The eyes are large and far apart in infants. They become proportionately smaller and move closer together with age.
- The eye opening becomes more almond-shaped over time as the brow ridge develops.
- The eyebrows descend to sit lower on the brow bone by adulthood.
- The nose is small and underdeveloped in childhood. It grows rapidly during puberty.
- The nasal bridge becomes more defined. The tip elongates and refines.
- Nostrils widen as the nose increases in size. Growth completes in the late teens or early 20s.
- Lips are relatively thin in childhood and lack definition.
- They increase in size and become more defined in shape during puberty.
- The vermilion border develops a sharp cupid’s bow shape by adulthood.
- The jaw is small and narrow in childhood. It rotates forward and grows downward during development.
- The chin becomes more prominent. Jaw angles sharpen and the mandible widens.
- Jaw growth completes around age 18 but further changes can occur until the mid-20s.
- Cheekbones are relatively flat and undefined in early childhood.
- They increase in size and become more angled during puberty.
- Higher, more sculpted cheekbones emerge as the face matures.
When Are Facial Features Fully Developed?
The timing of maturity for individual facial features is as follows:
|Late teens – early 20s
As shown, most features reach maturity in the late teens, while jaw and chin development may continue into the early 20s in some people.
Appearance Changes From Youth to Maturity
In addition to changes in individual features, the overall appearance of the face transforms dramatically from childhood to adulthood:
- The face has a round, flat appearance in infancy and early childhood.
- Facial contours sharpen as the cheekbones, nose, chin and jawline become more defined.
- The proportion of facial thirds changes. The forehead shortens while the nose and chin lengthen.
- The face takes on a more oval, slender shape compared to the wider, rounder infant face.
- More definition and angularity emerge as bone growth completes in the late teens/early 20s.
Can You Accurately Judge Age by Facial Features?
The level of facial maturity can give clues about a person’s age, but not an exact age. There are a few reasons it is difficult to precisely determine age from facial features alone:
- There is significant variation in development timing between individuals.
- Lifestyle factors like diet, sleep, and smoking affect aging of skin and features.
- The aging process differs between men and women due to hormonal differences.
- Ethnic differences in facial structure and aging exist.
- Wrinkles and skin quality indicate age more than bone structure which matures earlier.
Genetics play such a big role that people of the same age can have very different levels of facial maturity. Environmental factors also have significant effects on facial aging. So while facial clues can provide a general gauge of age, it is difficult to accurately determine a person’s exact age based on looks alone.
Do People With Baby Faces Age More Slowly?
There is some evidence that people with neotenous or “baby” faces characterized by round cheeks, small nose and chin, and large eyes retain a more youthful appearance later into life. Possible reasons include:
- Having fewer sharp angles and features may obscure signs of aging.
- Fuller, rounder faces may plump out emerging wrinkles and folds.
- Smaller facial bones lead to less pronounced bone loss effects.
- Youthful facial proportions change less with age.
- Baby-faced people may look up to 5-10 years younger later in life.
However, baby-faced individuals do still show signs of intrinsic aging at the same rate as mature-faced people. But their facial structure can make them appear more youthful and age more gracefully externally.
Can Facial Development Predict Height Growth?
Since the timing of puberty impacts both facial maturity and growth in height, there is some correlation between facial development age and final height. However, facial changes are not a totally reliable predictor of growth potential for a few reasons:
- Genetics and gender have a big influence on height.
- Late bloomers can have late facial changes but catch up in height.
- Poor nutrition may impact height more than facial growth.
- Illness can affect developing height differently than facial changes.
So while early or late facial changes can provide clues about growth patterns, many other factors also contribute to final adult height.
Can Facial Development Indicate Other Growth Patterns?
Besides predicting height growth, facial development can provide hints about the timing of other adolescent changes during puberty including:
- Voice changes – Facial maturity is linked to larynx growth in both males and females.
- Breast development – Earlier breast budding correlates to early facial changes in girls.
- Adam’s apple – Males with more mature faces tend to have earlier enlargement of larynx and Adam’s apple.
- Body hair growth – More advanced facial development predicts earlier underarm and body hair changes.
So the stage of facial maturity can be a useful gauge of where a teenager is in their overall physical development during puberty.
Pros of Facial Maturity in Adolescence
Some potential advantages of earlier facial development in the teen years:
- Can boost confidence and self-image.
- Tends to reflect physical maturation.
- May enable younger social groups.
- Indicates being further along in puberty.
- Mature features are often perceived as attractive.
Cons of Facial Maturity in Adolescence
Some potential disadvantages of early facial maturation include:
- May not match emotional/mental maturity.
- Can increase appearance teasing from peers.
- Leads to getting ID’d and judged as older.
- May be associated with risky behaviors.
- Doesn’t always reflect height/weight maturity.
Improving Facial Symmetry During Development
Facial symmetry is a marker of health and genetic quality. Some ways teens can help improve facial symmetry as their face matures:
- Proper tongue posture and oral habits.
- Balanced nutrition and vitamin intake.
- Treatment for allergies/asthma to allow proper breathing.
- Physical therapy for any muscular imbalances.
- Avoiding trauma or injury to the facial bones.
Maximizing Attractiveness as Your Face Matures
Some tips for maximizing facial attractiveness from adolescence into adulthood:
- Practice good skincare to keep skin clear and fresh.
- Get enough sleep to avoid dark circles and inflammation.
- Stay hydrated and moisturized.
- Protect skin from sun damage.
- Reduce stress to prevent tension and frowning.
- Avoid smoking which can age skin and features prematurely.
In summary, while the exact timing varies between individuals, most experts agree the face is fully developed by the late teens or early 20s. The eyes, nose, lips, brows, and cheekbones tend to reach maturity first, while jawline and chin development may continue into the 20s. Although facial features provide clues to age, many factors make it difficult to determine an exact age. Baby-faced individuals may appear younger later in life. And the stage of facial development can give hints about the timing of other puberty changes. But genetics, nutrition, environment and health play key roles in facial maturity.