It's in your Face:
Facial Expressions and their Messages

The face has many muscles (anywhere between 54 and 98, depending on who you ask). The facial expressions you can make with them seem endless.

It's not hard to recognize the most basic emotions, but other muscle movements in the face can be much more subtle.

The Basic Emotions

So, let's start easy. Take a look what the most basic emotions do with the face.

Joy: the happy face

Joy / Happiness

Your forehead is relaxed, and may show light wrinkles as you eyebrows are lightly raised.

The corners of the mouth are curling up, sometimes showing the teeth. If someone's laughing out loud, the mouth is open. The cheekbones are lifted.

Your eyes show wrinkles in their outer corners (when 'the eyes don't smile', these wrinkles are absent; it's a telltale sign that someone isn't really happy).

Angry face
Are you lookin' at me?


Your forehead is pushed together in a frown, pushing down the eyebrows. Oftentimes your teeth are showing, with snarling lips and depressed corners of the mouth.

Your nostrils are standing out and the nose is wrinkled.

The eyes are bulging out, putting tension on the eyelids.

Droopy face
Love hurts...


The corners of your mouth is depressed, often with a shaking lower lip. The eyebrows are squashed together, and the forehead is frowning.

The skin around your eyes is pulled in, and the eyes are tearing up (or even crying).

Wrinkles are forming from the nostrils to the corners of your mouth.



Eyes are getting big, and the eyebrows go up and then down again.

Your lips are stretched outwards, and your lower lip is pulled down.

Your skin will look pale, as blood is retracted from your head, and sweat can form on your forehead.

Looking surprised


When you're surprised, your eye brows are pulled up high, making your eyes wide open, and your forehead wrinkled.

Your mouth opens as your jaw muscles relax and your lower jaw drops.

More Articles on Facial Expressions

The Angry Face vs. The Happy Face
It is said that when you put up an angry face, you use much more facial muscles than when you have a happy face. But is it true? Is it really easier to smile than to growl?

Back from Facial Expressions to Body Language Home

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