6 January 2021

3 mins read

The 6 Types Of Smiles And What They Really Mean

Are you conveying your intended meaning when you're smiling? Here are six types of smiles and what they mean.

nụ cười tự tin sau niềng răng trong suốt

Learning to differentiate the types of smiles can be the difference between hitting on someone who is awkwardly trying to get out of the situation and making a genuine emotional connection.


Here are 6 types of smiles and what they mean.


Pssst… (in a rush? Scroll to the end for the one type of smile that beats all the rest).

The Reward Smile

The reward smile triggers the reward centres in your brain to release dopamine that makes you feel good. When you use this type of smiling, it can be used to motivate someone else or when you feel like you’ve gotten the approval of someone else you value.


The reward smile involves the muscles in your eyes, eyebrows, cheeks and mouth. The more positive you feel, the more the muscles in your face are engaged.

The Affiliative Smile

If you’re meeting someone for the first time, smiling with an affiliative smile can be a great way to show them your good intentions. This involves you pulling up the sides of your mouth which often causes dimples to appear in your cheeks.


Many people also usually keep their mouth closed with the affiliative smile so they don’t show their teeth. Researchers think this might be because showing your teeth to someone new can have a primitive association with aggression.

The Polite Smile

uh huh polite smile GIF by nakedwines.com


We’ve all been in this situation before.


You smile with your mouth but your eyes don’t. This may be a more appropriate smile for someone you don’t know very well or when it’s a situation where something bad has just happened, because genuine, bigger smiles may make others feel uncomfortable.

The Dominance Smile

Have you had someone smile at you and made you feel an intense rage?


It’s typically when someone sneers at you to show contempt. In a dominance smile, one side of the mouth may be higher than the other while the lip may curl.


While you might attempt to keep your cool and pretend you aren’t affected by a sneer, the dominance smile works. Studies have shown that a person’s stress hormone levels and heart rate rises when they see a dominance smile from another person.

The Flirty Smile

Even if you think you’re shooting for someone who’s out of your league, studies show that your smile is a significant part of your attractiveness. A happy, genuine smile can compensate for relative unattractiveness.


Flirty Reaction GIF by moodman


So, smile, and don’t be afraid to take your shot! It could very well be the X factor that makes you stand out from the crowd.

The Duchenne Smile

The Duchenne smile is named after Guillaume Duchenne, a French anatomist who studied the facial movements that make a genuine smile of pure enjoyment different from other types of smiles.


Smiling with the Duchenne smile literally lights up a person’s entire face including their cheeks, mouth and eyes. It makes you look more genuine, friendly and trustworthy. Researchers have also found that the smile is linked to better relationships and longer lives.

heidi montag smile GIF by The Hills

While you typically make use of different types of smiles, the Duchenne smile is probably the one with the largest amount of benefits. However, if you feel self-conscious about your teeth, you might be reluctant to bare them in a genuine Duchenne smile which prevents you from reaping its advantages.


Invisible braces are now much more affordable than metal braces and allow you to smile naturally without having to feel embarrassed about showing your braces.

Can You Get A Duchenne Smile?

With ZenyumClear™ Aligners, you can light up the world with a bold, beautiful smile – without feeling self-conscious.

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The 6 Types Of Smiles And What They Really Mean