In this article, we’ll look at how people display the facial expression of sadness by going over different parts of the face one by one.
The inner corners of the eyebrows are angled upward forming an inverted ‘V’ above the nose. This angling upward of the eyebrows produces wrinkles on the forehead that are in a ‘horseshoe’ pattern.
Wrinkles (usually vertical) may also be seen between the eyebrows and if they are naturally present, they’ll deepen and darken in sadness.
The upper eyelids are drooped and the person who is sad usually looks down.
Lips are stretched horizontally with the lower lip pushed up and the lip corners turned down. The chin muscle below the lower lip which pushes the lower lip upward is raised intensely in extreme sadness, increasing the size of the lower lip by curling it forward.
This expression is commonly seen in children when they cry or are about to cry.
Cheeks are raised producing the inverted ‘U’ wrinkle on the sides of the nose. In extreme sadness, the cheeks may be so powerfully raised that the lip corners don’t appear to be turned down at all. Instead, the lip corners may appear to be in a neutral position or in a slightly raised position.
This is why, sometimes, when a person is extremely sad or is about to cry, it seems as if he’s grinning.
Examples of the sadness facial expression
This is a clear expression of extreme sadness. Eyebrows are slightly angled upward above the nose forming an inverted ‘V’ and producing the ‘horseshoe’ type wrinkles on the forehead (notice also the vertical wrinkles between the eyebrows).
Upper eyelids are very slightly drooped; lips are stretched horizontally and the lip corners are turned down. Cheeks are raised producing the inverted ‘U’ wrinkle on the sides of the nose. Chin muscle pushes the lower lip up so powerfully that the lower lip curls forward and increases in size (the expression seen in crying children).
Eyebrows are angled upward above the nose forming a very conspicuous inverted ‘V’ and producing wrinkles on the forehead. Upper eyelids are heavily drooped. Lips are stretched horizontally and the lip corners are slightly turned down. Cheeks are raised forming an inverted ‘U’ wrinkle on the sides of the nose.
Notice how the lip corners almost appear horizontal because the cheeks have been raised powerfully.
Eyebrows are angled upward forming an inverted ‘V’ and producing slight wrinkles on the forehead. Upper eyelids are heavily drooped. Lips are stretched horizontally and cheeks are powerfully raised upward forming an inverted ‘U’ wrinkle on the sides of the nose.
Cheeks are raised so powerfully that the lip corners that were supposed to be turned down appear to be slightly raised.
Compare this to the previous image where the cheeks are not as powerfully raised as in this image. If you ignore the eyebrows and focus on the lips, it will appear as if the guy is grinning.
So far we’ve been looking at obvious facial expressions of sadness. This one here is a subtle facial expression of sadness.
Inner corners of the eyebrows are so slightly angled upwards that they almost appear horizontal, producing barely noticeable ‘horseshoe’ wrinkles on the forehead. Lips are very slightly stretched to the extent that they don’t appear stretched at all.
However, the infinitesimal turning down of the lip corners is barely noticeable due to the small pits that are formed near the lip corners. Cheeks are slightly raised forming an inverted ‘U’ wrinkle on the sides of the nose.
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. I’ve written 280+ articles and published one book about human behavior on this blog that has garnered over 3 million views. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur.