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Study: Botox and Perceiving Emotions

patient receiving botox injections

Botox, the popular wrinkle-fighting injection, may hinder your ability to read others’ emotions.

Botox has medical uses besides cosmetic ones, but it’s a very common wrinkle treatment, since it’s normally an outpatient procedure and relatively inexpensive compared to other plastic surgeries. A recent study published in Social Psychology and Personality Science has found an unexpected side effect to these treatments. So how does botox interfere with reading emotions? USA Today reports:

People read emotions partly by mimicking facial expressions, [University of Southern California psychology professor David] Neal says, so “if muscular signals from the face to the brain are dampened, you’re less able to read emotions.”

Researchers conducted two experiments, one of 31 women, comparing Botox with Restylane, a dermal filler, and the other of 56 women and 39 men, using a gel that amplifies muscular signals. Participants in both experiments viewed computer images of faces and identified the emotions they saw.

The results? People with less use of their facial muscles were less likely to correctly read the emotions.

Of course, even setting aside this new study, you have to question the whole idea of willfully injecting a toxin into your muscles to paralyze them in the name of beauty. Drug and cosmetic companies want us to believe that we need flawless, smooth skin to be attractive, but can an injection really make anyone beautiful?

Every wrinkle and laugh line on our faces is part of who we are. They’re a map of the joys and pain that we’ve experienced in our lives. Why would we want to cover that up? Despite being cheaper than plastic surgery, a single botox session can cost anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars, and it takes recurring sessions to see results and maintain them. What if we donated that money to a charitable organization, spent it on a getaway with friends or family, or sunk it into savings instead?

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Vancouver Laser & Skincare Centre

Written by Becky Striepe

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .


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