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Face Design by Marsha Wichers.jpg

Project Face Design is a design research project about the effect of facial enhancement on the human condition by Marsha Wichers. She is both an artist and an aesthetic physician, which means that her view on facial enhancement is slightly different. She looks beyond the standard image of beauty. 


Marsha: "Facial enhancement has almost become a commodity these days. Everybody can buy full lips, botoxed skin and re-shaped cheekbones. But here lies a danger, our face isn’t a commodity".


"Our face is one of the most important parts of what makes us human and embodies our personality and individuality. If we go too far in facial enhancement, our faces will start to look unnatural and may communicate in a different way. Within my design research I wanted to gain insight in this matter because I think it is important to be aware of the side effects of our efforts to look young and beautiful".

"I think it is important to be aware of the choices we want to make regarding the way we look as human beings. Especially with the coming technological age where we as humans will compete with artificial intelligence and robots".

"Medical technology provides us with the opportunity to soften the signs of ageing, but we should always respect and embrace our individual looks, with its imperfections, because that's an important part of what makes us human".

Marsha combined her knowledge of medical technical possibilities with an ‘out of the box’ design approach. She took her own face as a starting point for visualizing the effects of facial enhancements. The goal of project Face Design is to raise awareness and to start a discussion about societal and ethical issues regarding facial enhancement.


Over the past 20 years, the use of Botox has increased dramatically. Not only are more and more people using Botox, people are also starting to use it at a younger age.
What is the effect of this trend on our
non-verbal communication?

The number of Botox treatments in the US rose from 65 thousand in 1997 to more than 4.5 million in 2016. This trend is also reflected in the Netherlands. The taboo on the use of Botox is starting to disappear and more and more people want to improve their appearance. However, they are also afraid of "losing themselves": although they want to be treated, many clients emphasize that it should look natural. They don't want anyone to notice that they've had a cosmetic procedure.​

But what can make a face look unnatural after Botox injections?

Marsha: "Botox relaxes the muscles in the face, but if you use too much Botox, you lose the ability to use your facial expression correctly. Then the facial expression will look strange and unreal. I visualized this phenomenon by using myself as a test subject. Normally I use small amounts of Botox, but for this test case I had a full face Botox treatment with high doses. I filmed myself making various facial expressions before and after this treatment. With emotion recognition software I measured the differences in emotion that my face radiated before and after this Botox treatment".


"I've noticed how hard it is to show anger when you can't frown your brows or show disgust when you can't pull the corners of your mouth down. By watching the video, you will notice that this full face Botox treatment has a lot of influence on my ability to communicate non-verbally".

Is it possible to use Botox and still be able to express yourself?


"Yes, fortunately it is. Botox is a very safe and powerfull way to treat and prevent wrinkles. It also helps to soften overactive muscles in the face. Think of the person who is always frowning en looking angry because of this muscle activity. By relaxation of the frown the face can really 'clear up '. For having a good and natural looking result after a Botox treatment, it is crucial that the dosage and area of treatment is tailored to the person. This requires facial analysation and experience of the aesthetic physician".


"A full facial Botox treatment with high dosages is clearly too much. But softening wrinkles with low dosages leaves enough expression to communicate, and can still be a very satisfying cosmetic treatment".

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