How to Practice Facial Expressions

A smile is one of the most basic facial expressions.

Facial expressions are one larger part of a body language system that helps humans communicate nonverbally, both with other humans and with other species, such as dogs. There is strong evidence to support the idea that basic facial expressions are innate, and not learned, meaning they do not have to be practiced. Other facial expressions, however, such as a raised eyebrow, may need some practice to perfect.

1 Mirror

The first and only piece of equipment you need for practicing facial expressions is a mirror, which will provide you with feedback when attempting various facial expressions. Feedback is important, and it would be difficult to master a particular facial expression without a mirror to confirm it for you. Any mirror will do, although a well lit mirror is best. Also, a non-reversing mirror will more accurately portray what other people would see, although these are harder to find and are not essential when trying to master facial expressions.

2 Isolate a Muscle

Try to isolate a certain muscle. Humans have more expressive faces than any other animal on the planet, and this is based on the fact that the muscles in the human face can complete 43 different movements. When you start to combine movements, the potential combinations quickly become astronomical. So first start by isolating one muscle, and one movement, then build from there.

3 Combinations

When you have mastered several movements, such as a raised eyebrow and a frown, then you can start trying to combine them. This is precisely what a facial expression is -- a combination of facial muscle movements. Practice in the mirror until you have mastered that particular facial expression, and you are reasonably sure you can do it without the use of a mirror. Practice without the mirror, and a willing friend, to make sure.

4 Accept Defeat

Although virtually all humans have access to the very basic human facial expressions, like smiles and frowns, there are some muscles and movements in the face that rarely get used, and which some people are not very good at. There are some, for instance, that are genetically influenced, and if you do not have the right genes you will never be able to get that muscle to move, no matter what you try.

Stuart Robertson has been freelance writing since 2008, covering topics such as health, environmental issues and technology for websites such as and Environmental Graffiti. He has a bachelor's degree in political science.