RBF And The Art Of Face Relaxation

By Minji

  • RBF (Resting B* Face) is real and I suffer from it
  • If you’re inadvertently tensing facial features and causing RBF, as you age, a permanent frown and droopy cheeks could be on the horizon
  • The art of relaxing your face can help!  

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had instances where people ask me if something's wrong, or why I’m angry when everything is fine. I’ve encountered this enough and mulled over it enough to know exactly where it comes from. It’s because, sadly, I suffer from RBF (yes, alas, the notorious Resting B* Face) … to be exact, my mouth is naturally turned down a bit and it can give off a negative impression. Also probably doesn’t help that I’m naturally not very smiley, relatively introverted and painfully shy at times.

Although it would irritate me every time someone pointed out that I looked angry when I wasn’t, I never really considered how I might be able to fix or change this. If the consequences of RBF ended at occasional minor annoyance, I wouldn’t be writing this article right now. Unfortunately, as I grow older, I’m noticing that my cheeks right under the corners of my mouth are starting to droop – and I’m 100% sure RBF is one of the culprits. I started researching this phenomenon to see what could be done.

First, I was happy to find that RBF is a common occurrence – and not just in women either (why so pouty, Kanye?). Apparently, there was a big study on RBF a few years back that scientifically proved RBF is a real thing. People with RBF tend to have eyes or a mouth that are slightly angled down and are perceived to be unhappy or upset when they’re not. It could be genetic, but it could also be due to the fact that you’re inadvertently tensing different facial features. And if the cause of your RBF is the latter, then with gravity and time also working against you, a permanent frown and droopy cheeks could be on the horizon. 

I found some crazy stuff out there when I looked into remedies. Plastic surgery, botox, unsustainable smiling all the time, etc. I found people also claiming we should all own our RBFs as part of female empowerment (it is very true and upsetting that women get told they should smile more when men usually don’t). It was all fascinatingly interesting, but not what I was looking for. I had a strong suspicion that my RBF was not wholly due to genetics. I knew deep down inside, I was probably reflecting inner stress and frustration outwards – even if so slight that on most occasions I couldn’t even recognize those feelings myself.

Just when I was about to give up and consider seriously “owning” my RBF, I came across guided meditations called “face meditation.” There are guided meditations out there actively targeting the release of facial stress and tension! Makes sense – like most other things in life, building awareness and cultivating habits of mindfulness and relaxation can help with RBF too. Another reason to make time for a blissful maskitation session tonight…   

For a quick face relaxation session, start by standing in front of a mirror and taking a few deep breaths. Then look at your face closely – does it look as rested as it could be?  Try unclenching your jaw, sticking out your tongue, fluttering your lips, closing your eyes… Never scrunching or wrinkling up your face, but relaxing and calming it as much as possible. Then take another look - better perhaps?

Another great trick is to take deep breaths whenever you have a moment and can remember to do so. The breath is naturally calming for our hearts and also our faces and most of us aren’t utilizing this life force enough - the belly should expand as you inhale and contract with a deep exhale. In this hectic world today, our body is craving relaxation and self-care, and the face is not an exception!