Muscles of Facial Expression


The muscles of facial expression are a group of about 20 flat skeletal muscles that control the movements of our face. They are located in the subcutaneous tissue of the face and scalp.

These facial muscles are essential for displaying emotions in the face, such as smiling, grinning and frowning. Thus, they are also commonly called mimetic muscles.

They can be organized into 5 groups:

  • buccolabial (muscles of the mouth)
  • nasal (muscles of the nose)
  • epicranial (muscles of the cranium and neck)
  • auricular (muscles of the ear)
  • and orbital (muscles of the eyelid).

Unlike most other muscles in the body, the muscles of facial expression attach to skin rather than bone or fascia, allowing for detailed changes in the appearance of the face.

This is especially important in social interactions between individuals. All muscles of facial expression are innervated by the facial nerve.