How many facial muscles do the head and neck contain?

Are you ready to flex those facial muscles? Of course, you are! But first, let’s address a pressing question: how many muscles are actually involved in making our faces twitch, grin, or scowl like an angry bulldog?

Well folks, according to anatomists and their endless fascination with human anatomy (aka the science of slicing cadavers open), there are 43 individual facial muscles scattered throughout your head and neck. Not too shabby for such a relatively small area.

So grab a drink (preferably something local that rhymes with “soda”), slap on some yoga pants (not mandatory but recommended), sit back and relax while we delve into this magnificent network of motorized complexion mechanics.

The Upper Part Of The Face

Let’s start from the top – quite literally. Firstly we have frontalis, it’s kind of like that annoying fly buzzing around your room at night just when you’re about to go bed…it’s responsible for lifting your eyebrows up as if in bewilderment (sorry not sorry).

Next up is orbicularis oculi, which altogether creases your forehead horizontally when smiling broadly. When contracted upon itself it keeps water away from eyes by forming tears.

We then move onto corrugator supercilii (“corr-A-ga-tor soup-er-silly”, yeah I know pronunciation). This muscle isn’t used all too often though every time we squint; it assists orbicularis oculi by pulling down inner corners of eyelids causing crow’s feet wrinkles!

And finally rounding off group number one is levator palpebrae superioris, isn’t that impressive sounding thing? For its function being elevating the upper eyelid so anything worth looking at can be seen clearly without obstructions.

A Table Summary

Here’s what we’ve learned so far all in one neat little Table.

Muscle Name Location Function
Frontalis Above eyebrows and eithner side of forehead Lifting eyebrows up
Orbicularis oculi Around the eyes Creases forehead when smiling, forms tears
Corrugator supercilii Between eyebrow hairs Assist orbicularis oculi with squinting
Levator palpebrae superioris /Above eyelid bones /Elevating upper eyelid

The Mid Part of the Face

Moving on down to the mid-region now where it’s time for our “smiling muscles” (did someone say cheese?). These aren’t needed as much in winter thanks to those lovely masks (sarcasm intended), but funnily enough they actually have evolved long before such inventions!

Firstly we’ve got good old zygomaticus major, used when bearing teeth, also contributes to form nasolabial folds from laugh lines allowing you to look experienced in life.

Next is levator labii superioris, which raises your top lip giving that cool smile like James Dean.

Let’s not forget about its companion muscle though, levator anguli oris (“ang-gully or-is”), does exactly what it says on tin…lifting outer edges that give happy connotation.

And if all this isn’t enough we still have a few more cheeky antagonistic alignment-mates here including both sides’ crowd favourites: risorius muscles, pulling corners outward into smirk making room for ever-important air guitar poses; also called buccinator, carrying out an important function of keeping food within mouth…

A Bullet Point Summary

The mid part has lots going on so let’s summarize some highlights:

  • Zygomaticus Major is the “smiling muscle”.
  • Levator labii superioris raises the top lip like James Dean
  • Levator anguli oris lifts outer edges of that also give happy connotation
  • We’ve got 2 buddies here called risorius muscles which pull corners outward into smirk making room for ever-important air guitar poses

The Lower Part Of The Face

And now we’re down to where those sour expressions live. These areas are usually more scrunched up than an overripe avocado – aka the grumpy ones – however are incredibly useful in warning you off unsavoury dangers and uninvited small talk (looks at socks on table).

Starting with, mentalis (“men-tal-liss”), positioned at foundations of chin allowing for puckering effect when pouting. This works swiftly alongside conspiring labii inferior bittersweet buddy.

Then, depressor anguli oris (yet another Latin tongue twister), bringing mouth’s corner downwards lending itself well under gloomy skies out there!

But wait…there’s more! How about alligator? Nope sorry wrong article (unless found in human form). Actually what I meant was infamous facial-feature-manipulation-powerhouse feline inspired by-house-or-somebody-called-Mona: let us introduce depressor labii inferiori, causing lower lip and sides to extend outwards resembling proud owner of a set whiskers.

A Fun Fact Roundup

Not quite sure how to summarize this section so let’s just throw a few random facts:

  • Mentalis Muscle is responsible for your upward-pointed “pout” when feeling sulky.
  • Depressor Anguli Or Why Such Names Exist?
    • Sorry that wasn’t an interesting fact was it…
  • Our Possess-To-Lower-Lips-Move-Outward-Cat-Tribute Friend Is Known Offically As “Depressor Labii Inferioris”.


So there we have it folks, a deep dive into our fascinating facial muscles. In case you’re wondering, no – we don’t really need all these muscles to survive (unless smizing is now survival skill). But they not only help us in daily communication and expression of feelz, but reveal much about how humans evolved throughout the years.

And let’s face it (no pun intended...OK maybe a little) without them life would be as dull as that rock over there (stares out further). We’d just be emotionless automatons walking around like bots.

But since we’ve so many bones yet to cover thus bid fond farewell to each other for now. May your faces continue expressing themselves via humorous anecdotes and able to ‘say cheese’ whenever occasion calls for.(which is always)

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