Smiling makes people look healthier and more attractive than being the right weight or even wearing make-up, according to a new study.
Researchers found people whose resting faces seemed cheerful were judged as being in better health than those who appeared miserable.
Their research shows that ‘resting b**ch face’ is not a good idea if you want to be perceived as glowing and attractive.
Scientists decided to try and predict the health ratings of different faces based on their resting expressions.
Psychologists at Swansea University asked volunteers how happy the faces seemed as well as how healthy they appeared.
They found people with genuine smiles, rather than simply looking cheerful or having a blank expression, were even more likely to be seen as healthy and glowing.
And the effect of having a positive expression on perceived health was as powerful as having the correct BMI, plastering on foundation, blusher and mascara or looking young rather than old, the study found.
Dr Alex Jones, a lecturer in psychology at the Welsh university and an expert in facial perception, said they had finally found scientific proof that ‘a smile really is the best accessory.’
He said using fad creams and things like Botox were unnecessary because the secret to looking good is to appear naturally happy.
He said: ‘We discovered that faces look healthier when they are smiling, compared to a neutral expression, and that it doesn’t matter whether the faces are male or female.
‘We also found that this effect increased with the age of the face: while younger adults look healthier when they smile, older adults look much healthier.
‘A smile was a more important cue than how old the face appeared to be, and more recent research has shown a happy expression is even more important than cues like body fat or skin colouration.’
Scientists have previously predicted the length of people’s lives based on pictures of them in their youth.
Those photographed with genuine smiles lived longer than those with fake smiles or none at all.
New university students who are smiling in their Facebook posts also report better social lives and satisfaction on graduating.
Healthy-looking faces are thought to be more attractive and politicians who seem healthy win more votes.
Dr Jones added: ‘These amazing associations are linked to an aspect of our psychology known as positive affect.
‘This is a highly desirable trait to have: it means you live a longer and healthier life by virtue of being optimistic and cheerful’.
Researchers found our perceptual systems are on the lookout for individuals with this kind of appearance.
‘There is a simple message here: looking good costs nothing, and need not be dangerous’, said Dr Jones.
‘All it takes is a smile to look healthier, and the more you do it, the healthier you’ll likely be.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Phoebe Weston