How an Attractive Grin Impacts Your Appearance and Health
Scientists and spiritual teachers alike agree that the simple act of smiling can transform you and the world around you. Current research (and common sense) shows us that a smile is contagious. It can make us appear more attractive to others. It lifts our mood as well as the moods of those around us. And it can even lengthen our lives. So before you read on, slap a nice, genuine smile on that face of yours. You’ll be thankful later.
How Smiling Affects Your Brain
Each time you smile you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness.
For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress. Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, excited. The feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well. This not only relaxes your body, but it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
The endorphins also act as a natural pain reliever – 100% organically and without the potential negative side effects of synthetic concoctions.
Finally, the serotonin release brought on by your smile serves as an anti-depressant/mood lifter. Many of today’s pharmaceutical anti-depressants also influence the levels of serotonin in your brain, but with a smile, you again don’t have to worry about negative side effects – and you don’t need a prescription from your doctor.
How Smiling Affects Your Body
You’re actually better looking when you smile – and we’re not just trying to butter you up. When you smile, people treat you differently. You’re viewed as attractive, reliable, relaxed and sincere. A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing an attractive smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that process sensory rewards. This suggests that when you view a person smiling, you actually feel rewarded.
It also explains findings by researchers at the Face Research Laboratory at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Subjects were asked to rate smiling and attractiveness. They found that both men and women were more attracted to images of people who made eye contact and smiled than those who did not. If you don’t believe me, see how many looks you get when you walk outside with that smile you are wearing right now. (You’re still smiling, right?)
How Smiling Affects Those Around You
Did you know that your smile is actually contagious? The part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression of smiling when happy or mimicking another’s smile resides in the cingulate cortex, an unconscious automatic response area. In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of several emotions: joy, anger, fear and surprise. When the picture of someone smiling was presented, the researchers asked the subjects to frown. Instead, they found that the facial expressions went directly to imitation of what subjects saw. It took conscious effort to turn that smile upside down. So if you’re smiling at someone, it’s likely they can’t help but smile back. If they don’t, they’re making a conscious effort not to.
5 Tips for a Nice Smile
With selfies and instant photo sharing, a camera-ready smile is great to have. You don’t need to be a celebrity to know how to flash a glowing grin, though. Follow these steps to get pictures you’ll be happy to send to your friends.
1: Be natural.
When it’s picture time, smile gently. That way, your face looks relaxed. Your mouth opens slightly, and your lower lip matches the curve of your upper teeth.
It’s the opposite of the quick smile that flashes across your face when you see an old friend. That makes your eyes squint and your neck muscles tense, which can make for an awkward-looking photo.
2: Stand up straight.
Does your smile sometimes make you look like you have a double chin? Then watch your posture. If you slouch or your head is too bent forward, you won’t like how your smile looks.
Her suggestion: Turn your head slightly and drop your chin so your face is not completely square with the camera.
3: Make lipstick your friend, ladies.
Choose one that works with your skin tone – the right shade of lipstick can make teeth look whiter.
Shades like cherry red, wine, berry, plum, or rosy pink are your best bets. Blue-based or pink-based undertones will help hide yellow stains in your teeth.
The wrong color, especially one that’s too dark or too red, can make your smile less appealing.
4: Check your teeth and gums.
Getting your smile camera-ready sometimes calls for a little behind-the-scenes prep work.
If your choppers have yellowed with age, try a whitening product or visit your dentist. Correcting cracked, broken, or missing teeth will likely mean some time with a dental professional.
Don’t forget about taking care of your gums. Though you may think of them as supporting actors, they play a crucial role in a nice smile. So keep them in good shape. Brush, floss, and rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash every day.
Your perfect smile might not happen overnight. If you have a big photo event like a wedding or a graduation coming up, try out your grin in front of a mirror.
You can see how it looks and feels when you hold your shoulders back proudly and strike a natural, unforced smile. You can also play around with turning your head and finding your best angle.
Sources: Psychology Today, WebMD