Muscles of Facial Expression


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

The facial muscles are essential for displaying emotions through facial expression, 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).

Many of 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.

Learn the anatomy and functions of the facial muscles with the articles below or upgrade your anatomy knowledge with advanced quizzes and video tutorials.