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Smile Your Way to Health

To smile or not to smile? Is that even a question? Apparently, it is. Earlier this year, when a fan asked Kim Kardashian about her secret for smooth skin, her answer had media outlets going bonkers: “Don’t smile.” 

Popular culture print and electronic periodicals were headlining this “Secret to Smooth Skin.” While the queen of reality TV was likely referring to simply appearing in photos or posing in full makeup, her response has beauty-conscious women questioning the deleterious effects of a smile. [Spoiler alert: There are no deleterious effects of a smile—unless you’ve had recent facial surgery that may require limiting facial expression or cannot emote during a deeply religious or somber occasion—which are entirely different articles!] 

As far back as the 19th century in Europe, it has been speculated that smiling contributes to wrinkle formation. Mothers would allegedly tell their daughters to avoid smiling until marriage, in order to increase their eligibility. 

In reality, muscle movement alone won’t cause wrinkles. Most wrinkles are triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental factors—skin thickness, elasticity, fat distribution, collagen content and (our favorite aging force) gravity. Exaggerated muscle movements in general may contribute to wrinkle formation over time when combined with these other factors, however, it can be curbed by appropriate skin care like sunscreens and serums.    

In addition to being a powerful communication device, a smile can offer the giver and receiver a host of benefits. Some scientific studies have supported that physically smiling can modulate one’s subjective feelings and visual processing. Yes, even a fake smile. Meaning, if you smile outwardly, you are more likely to smile inwardly (with peace and happiness)—and you’re more likely to perceive positivity around you. This outward and inward smiling can manifest into other various smile-worthy changes: mood improvement, stress reduction, improved self-perception (you seem more approachable and trustworthy to others), strengthened emotional intelligence, and much more. 

We have the power to literally trick our brain into happiness. Smiling (even a forced smile) creates a chemical reaction in our brain where dopamine and serotonin are released. These neurotransmitters are responsible for the feelings of well-being and happiness at the basic level. However, they are also involved with complex processes, including reward, learning, memory, motivation, decision-making and creativity. 

A smile and its benefits almost seem too good to be true. Something that epitomizes love and kindness, and it’s available for free, in unlimited quantities! If you’re questioning whether this simple, yet powerful mood-lifting, stress-reducing, feel-good neurotransmitter-releasing gesture is a staple to your health and well-being, the answer is yes!

In addition to your cup of Joe, try starting off every morning with gratitude, some words of affirmation, and a brimming, heartfelt smile. 

Keep your smile looking its best at Palisades Surgical Arts, 881 Alma Real Dr Suite T4, in Pacific Palisades. Make an appointment at 310.459.0014 or learn more at PaliSurgicalArts.com.

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