The Real Reason We Have A Cupid's Bow

Have you ever wondered why we have a Cupid's bow? To clarify, we're not talking about the miniature bow and arrow the chubby, ancient, Roman god of love flies around with. Healthline shares that our Cupid's bow is the name for the distinctive shape of our upper lips — more specifically, the center of the upper lip. The area could be referred to as a Cupid's bow because it is what gives the lips their heart shape, or because if you looked at the lips vertically, they would form the shape of an actual bow. There are theories surrounding the origin of the cute name, but here is the real reason we have one.

While some people have a Cupid's bow that is more pronounced (hello Taylor Swift!) others don't appear to have one at all. Nature Wellness tells us that our Cupid's bow is a part of our philtrum — the indent in your skin that starts on the bottom in of your nose in the center and ends at the dip in your cupid's bow. This is where opinions start to differ.

The cupid's bow lacks research to prove it has a function

Floyd Aronyosi, Assistant Professor at Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington, tells Nature Wellness that the Cupid's bow doesn't have a function. "For humans, it's the location where two growth planes meet," he says. "That's all...The philtrum is simply the spot where the left half of the face meets the right half." And while Healthline agrees there is no research to suggest otherwise, some have developed theories that suggest the Cupid's bow gives our lips more range of motion to express and increase non-verbal communication.

While there may be not enough research to prove a specific scientific purpose for the Cupid's bow, it appears that doesn't stop the masses from wanting it to be more defined. Facial cosmetic surgeon Dr. Julian De Silva reveals to Insider that a heavily-defined Cupid's bow is the most asked-for feature surrounding the lips. If this is true, then it could be argued that a Cupid's bow's function is to help "shoot an arrow" towards a desired mate.

Health conditions that can affect the cupid's bow

VeryWell Health says cupid's bow-shaped lips start to develop around 13 weeks into pregnancy. However, a baby can be born with certain conditions that can impact the shape. One of these conditions is cleft lip, which occurs between weeks three and eight during pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as one in every 2,800 babies in the United States are born with cleft lip defects. Both the lip and the palate can be affected by cleft lips, but they may also be corrected with surgery. 

Williams Syndrome is another condition that can affect the cupid's bow. Medline Plus says that it's a developmental disorder that leads to learning problems. Children with Williams Syndrome typically have specific facial features and can often have full lips, which may affect the appearance of the cupid's bow.

Ackerman Syndrome is another developmental condition in which the cupid's bow may be affected. Access Anesthesiology reports that those with this condition may have a less defined cupid's bow and abnormal upper lip shape. 

How to make your cupid's bow pop (or disappear)

Most people have a cupid's bow even if it varies in size (per Healthline). For some people, that slight dip in the middle of the lip is more pronounced. For other people who have very full lips, their cupid's bow may not be as noticeable. If you're trying to achieve a highly defined cupid's bow, cosmetic, injectable lip fillers have grown in popularity. According to Business Insider, lip injections give you that pouty fullness, help to define the lip line and cupid's bow, and smooth the lips. But if injections seem too extreme and invasive, Mindbodygreen says there are a few makeup hacks that can help make those arches look more defined.

By adding a pop of highlighter and contouring the corners, you can enhance your natural shape. You can also sharpen the cupid's bow with a bit of concealer. For an even more pronounced look, draw an X from the top of each peak to the bottom of the lip and slightly over-line the outer corners.

On the flip side, if you want to soften your cupid's bow to attain a more rounded upper lip, apply foundation to your lips before adding color and be sure to cover the lip line. Next, smudge your lip color and those sharp edges will soften right up.

Is a cupid's bow attractive?

While we believe it's important to love your body as it is, we acknowledge that some are interested in the perception of beauty, which can differ based on a person's demographic. Objectively speaking, however, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery, 60% of people surveyed across 35 countries were more attracted to the symmetry of a woman's lips (not necessarily the definition of the cupid's bow itself) and found a 1:1 ratio to be the most alluring. With this look, the top and bottom lips are identical in size. However, researchers of the study conclude that lip attractiveness was highly variable based on the on-lookers profession, location, gender, and age. So beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder according to these researchers.

Interestingly, when it comes to achieving a perfect lip shape through cosmetic surgery, those willing to go under the knife are most commonly seeking a more defined cupid's bow. Facial cosmetic surgeon Dr. Julian De Silva told Insider that his patients often refer to Taylor Swift's lip shape as the look they're trying to achieve. He utilizes lip filler, expertly placed, to help his patients achieve the look they desire. He also recommends cutting out certain lifestyle habits, like smoking, drinking, and sunbathing which can all affect lip-fullness.