If You Want To Look Younger In Photos, Stop Smiling

Switch up your selfie game STAT. 📸

Alyssa Girdwain
Jun 8, 2017 · 2 min read

It only takes a few seconds of scrolling through Instagram to see that the go-to expression for most young “influencers” is a no-nonsense deadpan. This, no doubt, is an effort to appear mature enough for a sponsorship with a detox tea company or boutique sunglass brand (or whatever marketer they’re wooing at the time).

If they’re trying to look older, though, they might want to smile for the camera.

For the first time, new research has found that smiling in photos makes you look older.

A team of Israeli and Canadian psychologists recently showed photos of peoples’ faces to a group of 40 university students. The photos showed the subjects smiling, looking neutral or looking surprised, like this:


The psychologists asked the students to rank the photos by age.

The students consistently ranked photos of smiling people as older than photos of neutral or blank expressions.

They ranked “surprised” expressions as the youngest of all.

Interestingly — despite these findings — most participants still said they believed smiling made people look younger.

“Participants in our experiment were completely unaware that their perceptual performance defied their own beliefs,” the study’s authors say. “Popular media promotes the idea that smiling makes you look younger,” one researcher said.

18-year-old Maddi Bragg is famous for her lifestyle, fashion and beauty videos on YouTube. | maddibrag/Instagram

The psychologists believe the wrinkles that form around our eyes when we smile are what make us appear older. When we make a surprised face, though, our face naturally lifts and stretches the skin backwards.

Did this article surprise you? If so, you’re looking good. 😉

The study was published in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, an academic journal, in May.

Alyssa Girdwain

Written by

Editor at @Dose and @OMGFacts. Probably wrapped in a blanket.



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