Face Facts: Facial Muscles That Take Part in Everyday Face Expressions

Your facial muscles give your face shape, allow you to express yourself, and make you who you are – but we’re not here just to give you a biology lesson. When you understand the different muscles of your face, you can start to work them out, target them individually, and change the way you look).

Your face is a complex connection of muscles that allow you to show any emotion from joy to shock, frustration to elation.

Criss-crossing one another, you have a mask of muscles from your forehead to your chin that undertakes a complex dance every time you move, speak, or pretty much do anything.

Without your conscious effort, your facial muscles contract and relax in harmony and expert precision to project your feelings to the world. Even something as simple as a smile requires an incredibly complex process beneath the skin for you to flash your pearly whites.

But what are the muscles of facial expression?

And how does understanding the muscles of your face assist with improving your skin and appearance?

If you’re curious about your face musculature (and how you can sculpt it to literally change the way you look), read on to find out.

Why You Need to Understand the Muscles Involved in Facial Expression 

If you can understand it, you can change it.

If you’ve recently heard about Face Yoga (or been following this exciting wellness trend for a while) you’ll hear about the exciting changes that can occur across your face from reducing double chins to more symmetrical features and even a more defined nose line.

These results may seem like magic when really they’re the result of targeting individual muscles of your face during short, at-home workouts.

When you’re aware of which muscles are responsible for your smile, or which are your cheek muscles, you can activate them each day to help tone them. As these facial muscles become more toned they naturally lift, helping to smooth your outer layer of skin and deliver a natural facelift to reverse sagging features, droopy skin, and the effects of aging.

Next, we’ll look at the muscles of your face and explore what makes them so unique.

The Facial Muscles (and Why They’re Unique)

Your face muscles are superficial – meaning they are close to the skin’s surface (compared to deep muscles which are closer to your organs and bones).

The superficial muscles of your face have different roles compared to muscles in your body, arms, or legs. Used for eating, drinking, and showing expressions, there are several key differences between your facial muscles and the rest of your muscles.

  • Facial muscles have a more complex pattern of innervation of extrafusal fibers
  • Facial muscles have a larger percentage of slow-type nerve fibers
  • Facial muscles often insert into the skin, instead of fascia or bone
  • Facial muscles are typically thin and merge with other muscles of your face

Alright, ready for a high school biology class flashback? Here are the major muscles of your face (and how they help you in your day-to-day life).

What Are Your Facial Muscles?

Frontalis muscle: The frontalis lifts your eyebrows and is the muscle responsible for the appearance of horizontal forehead wrinkles when you’re shocked or surprised.

Orbicularis oculi: Made up of two muscles, these are the circular muscles of your eyes and are responsible for closing your eyelids or squinting.

Procerus: The procerus is your frown muscle and is responsible for pulling.

g the medial sides of your eyebrows down and together.

Corrugator supercilii: This complex-sounding muscle helps to pull your eyebrows together.

Zygomatic muscles (major and minor): Every time you smile, it’s this facial muscle that’s working behind the scenes to move the corners of your mouth up and out when you smile.

Risorius: This is your ‘smile’ muscle which is responsible for pulling the corners of your mouth outward and creating dimples (this muscle isn’t active in all people, which is why some people have dimples and others don’t).

Orbicularis oris: The orbicularis oris is the circular muscle of your mouth which allows you to pucker up your lips for a kiss (or selfie). 

Depressor anguli oris: Any time you pull the corners of your mouth downward, it’s this facial muscle at play.

Levator labii superioris and depressor labii inferioris: These muscles work in unison to pull your upper and lower lips up and down respectively when it’s time to smile (which is hopefully often).

Mentalis: This is your chin muscle that helps to lift your chin when you’re disappointed, doubting something, or expressing a negative emotion.

Platysma: The platysma is a superficial muscle of your neck that engages in expressions like fear, disgust, and other negative emotions.

Why Do You Need to Know About the Muscles Behind Your Expressions?

OK, you’ve made it through the theory, now it’s time for the practical.

As with anything in life, the more knowledge you have, the more power you have. If you’re noticing changes in your facial features – from an unsightly double chin to crow’s feet forming around your eyes – you can cross-reference the muscles responsible for those parts of your face, and start targeting them.

And if targeting individual facial muscles sounds like an advanced process, a custom Face Yoga program will make your journey much, much easier.

Don’t have a custom Face Yoga plan yet? Complete the short quiz below to receive yours.


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