facial actions in context

upper lip raiser and nasolabial furrow deepener

Because of its name, upper lip raiser is considered the go-to action for lifting the top lip and tends to get overused in art and tech, acting as a replacement for nasolabial furrow deepener or a shortcut for showing teeth during smiling.

Despite its name, upper lip raiser is not the only lip-raising action! In fact, applying upper lip raiser to contexts better suited for nasolabial furrow deepener can be detrimental to the essence of a target expression.


faces you don’t want to see during UX research – especially for VR

facial expressions you to avoid during UX research sessions

Faces of discomfort often followed headset adjustment – or predicted upcoming adjustments. Bored faces and faces on the contempt spectrum tended to be predictive of undesirable experiences later disclosed during the post-demo interviews.

These expressions were not just useful for predicting events. They also served as points for further investigation. If a user made a particular face on multiple occasions when discussing or experiencing a certain event, we were able to press further and gather deeper insights.


killer smiles: a fine line between creepy and beautiful

serial killer smiles - Ted Bundy - Rodney Alcala - compared to James Franco and Willem Dafoe

Pre-serial killer considerations, I simply intended to study what causes people to perceive certain smiles as creepy. From observing trends in art, social media, ranking systems, and pop culture, I identified two main types of “creepy smiles”: Type I, which I coined The Grinch Pinch and Type 2, which I coined The Muted Shark. Types I and II typically contain all or many of the following features: