Facial Expressions

Oliver Jay

Welcome to the facial expressions section of the site! Here you will find articles and information related to common face expressions. You are welcome to explore the different headings and series below, the order is not really important. I do encourage you to do 2 things before you start though:

1. Check how to read body language first. It has some important guidelines.

2. If you want to learn faster and be more practical – find a mirror to practice. Mimic the facial expressions you see, and try to convey the emotion. Think of it as acting class…
I believe it’s important because it teach you to pay attention to details. It also helps you identify the various movements of muscles in your face. OK, let’s start with…

Masking Emotions

Our face is like a projector – It shows the world what’s going on inside. You’re happy – the face automatically wears the smile, you’re sad – and your face “melts” down. I know it’s kind of obvious, but think about it – nobody taught you how to smile or cry, and you don’t think about doing it either, it’s just happens…

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We use facial expressions to project our emotions to others and add the “flavor” to the words we say (imagine if we had to describe how we feel every conversation…). That’s why we understand face expressions easily and intuitively, unlike some other body language signs.

This makes facial expressions a sort of a double-edge sword when trying to read body language: it’s easy to spot and understand it, but since we can mask our emotions and hide our true intentions, it’s not the best indicator of truth. Masking emotions however can be a very difficult task…. Because it’s like fighting an inner war – your body wants to say one thing while you try to force him to say another. We can often get a glimpse of this inner conflict with something called micro expressions.

masking emotions

Micro Expressions

bad surprise

If you’ve heard about micro expressions it’s probably some pseudo science, in which someone is able to read other thoughts only by looking at their face. While not very far from the truth, micro expressions are a bit more complicated. So what are micro expressions? They’re facial expressions that appear only for a split second; They reveal the true emotions of someone who’s trying to mask them. Because they happen so fast however, it’s very hard for us to notice them. We may only get a certain feeling that something is wrong… but don’t quite understand the reason behind it.

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Another important thing to remember is that micro expressions happen only in more critical situations, and not everyone makes them. Nevertheless, they can be an excellent indicator if someone’s lying – if you can spot them, of course.


A good smile can go a long way… It’s instrumental in creating good first impression and positive atmosphere. Read more in this articles:

Other Lips Expressions

Lips play a huge part in our facial expressions and are often associated with sexuality and other strong emotions. In this series I talk about:

lips face expressions

Lips Facial Expressions – Part 1
How our lips are different from the lips of other animals?
What lips have to do with sensuality?
Lips Face Expressions – Part 2
Specific lips expressions – Pouting and tense mouth.
Body Language of Lips – Part 3
More specific lips expressions – Licking and biting the lips

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You Should Know How to Kiss

Universal Facial Expressions

There is a lot of debate about whether or not our face expressions are genetically inborn or do we learn them from our environment and culture. So far scientists discovered that they are both – some genetic, some learned and refined or subdued. I won’t discuss each face expression, either it’s genetic or not… to tell the truth, I don’t believe it’s that important for us, the common people.

Eye Contact and Body Language

I do want to mention Professor Paul Ekman and his friend Wallace V Friesen, who did a lot of research on that matter and discovered that there are some common universal facial expressions, even in the remote parts of the world. I think that’s great, because no one wants to be stuck in a place where he will seem like a complete alien. If you want to learn more about universal facial expressions I invite you to see this video:

making face

Paul Ekman Speaking About His Research

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