The Beauty Benefits of Smiling

Studies show that a smile makes you look more attractive and competent. We test out the power of a winning grin.

| November 29th, 2011
The Beauty Benefits of Smiling

There’s a piece of artwork in the cozy New York City restaurant The Smile that reads: “If you’re happy and you know it, keep it to yourself.”

But should you? According to science, the answer is no. Smiling makes you more beautiful.

When we’re young, we smile at practically everything (from your dad making silly faces to slap-stick cartoons to a new toy). Then somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, some of us start to grin less often. But here’s a reason to beam: Research shows that finding that genuine smile again may be a better beauty makeover than revamping your wardrobe revamp or splurging on an expensive haircut.

COLUMN: The Power of Smiles

In studies, subjects judge smiling faces as more attractive—the “reward regions” of the brain even light up in response to a grin. People also think you’re more sincere and competent with a smile on. That may be thanks to the “Halo Effect,” where having one good quality makes people assume you have a host of other beautiful qualities.

And that may be true. “People who smile are often friendlier, have a better sense of humor and are more socially engaging,” says YouBeauty Psychology Advisor Art Markman, Ph.D. What’s more, research also shows that women with a “duchenne smile” (a genuine smile where the eyes crinkle up) in their high school yearbook picture had better marriages and overall wellbeing 30 years later.

So if we smiled more often would we appear more attractive? And would people think our personalities were as glowing as our grins?

Experiment: Smiling More Vs. Less

We did some very unscientific research to see how smiling plays out in everyday life. The question: If I were to smile more than usual, would people smile back and approach me? Would I get treated differently when I wasn’t grinning?

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