Man looking happy and sad Man looking happy and sad Being surprised pulls back your skin, making it smoother. (Photo: Ollyy / Shutterstock)

Want to look younger? Stop smiling

A new study found that people who smile actually look older than people who frown or look surprised.

When a photographer tells you to smile for the camera, she may as well be telling you to don reading glasses and put your hair in a bun.

Researchers from Israel's Ben Gurion University of the Negev (a place that seems very interested in aging) and Canada's Western University just made a discovery that's a bit depressing: smiling makes you look older.

“Popular media promotes the idea that smiling makes you look younger,” explained Tzvi Ganel, a psychology professor at Ben Gurion University who worked on the study. “Look at all of the smiling faces in skincare and dental ads. How many of us post smiling faces on social media?”

The professors had participants rank photos of smiling people, deadpan people and surprised people by age. Apparently, the smiling people looked the oldest. The surprised people looked the youngest. It makes sense, if you think about it: smiling creates a bunch of temporary folds in your face that resemble wrinkles. Being surprised, meanwhile, pulls back your skin, making it look like you just washed off a facial mask.

“Ironically, we discovered that the same person can believe that smiling makes you appear younger and judge smiling faces older than neutral ones,” said Melvyn Goodale, a psychology professor at Western University who worked on the study.

Of course, if you care more about, say, looking happy and friendly than looking young, then keep on smiling. You'll probably make more friends.


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