Mouth Expressions and Lips in Body Language - Part 2

Pursing, Puckering and Pouting the Lips

There are many ways to squeeze the lips to create various mouth expressions. The names we give such expressions are technical, but their meaning obviously isn't.

Pursing the Lips - The lips create a round, but tight shape. Just imagine a grumpy old lady with a stern look. It's quite intuitive to understand - it shows disagreement and/or suppressed anger.

Sometimes however it shows indecision, it's the "what to do...?" face, weighing 2 equally balanced choices. You can see it as a way of stalling the words, before blurting something out.


Such evaluation gestures are important markers when you try to persuade someone. This is the time to give your best argument and tip the scales towards the decision you prefer, because when a decision is made and verbalized, it's much harder to change it.

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Perking the lips - AKA the "duck face" or the "kissing face". It's a flirtatious, playful and "cute" gesture, but only when done right and in the right amounts. Keep it light and save it for the right moments. Blowing air kisses to your boyfriend is cute, taking every other picture with this pose is just ridicules.

Pouting - It's when the lower lip slides forward. It's most evident in kids who show their displeasure and insult. But adults do it too, only with much more subtlety of course, we don't want to appear childish.

Or do we...? As in many other gestures, women can use the "little girl" card - to use childish expression and gestures, in order to manipulate men and get their wish. What can I say... it's easy to play on man's protective paternal emotions.

Licking the Lips

Licking the lips is a very context depended expression because the act of touching the lip can be either comforting or stimulating at different times.

The "sexual" lick - is an intentional gesture where the tongue starts in the corner of the mouth, licking the upper lip and then the lower, in a slow-moving and sensual action. Obviously, it means to entice by emphasizing the juiciness and color of lips, and since it's an erogenous zone, it's also self-enticing!

This sort of licking is a bold move, revealing instantly the desire to "taste" that somebody who's getting the message. As such, this kind of flirtation is kept for advanced steps of the courtship, when both parties know they're into each other.

The "sexual" lick - is an intentional gesture where the tongue starts in the corner of the mouth, licking the upper lip and then the lower, in a slow-moving and sensual action. Obviously, it means to entice by emphasizing the juiciness and color of lips, and since it's an erogenous zone, it's also self-enticing!

This sort of licking is a bold move, revealing instantly the desire to "taste" that somebody who's getting the message. As such, this kind of flirtation is kept for advanced steps of the courtship, when both parties know they're into each other.

Now the second type of lip licking is caused by nervousness, so it's a self-comforting signal. We want to touch (pull the lip) or lick it to release some inner tension by stimulating the nerves in our lips.

This sort of licking would be quick and partial. We automatically understand that licking the lips or pulling them would give away our insecurities, so we try to contain it. But if the tension is high enough we accidently leak it out - literally by sticking out the tongue.

Like all tension signals, it's often associated with telling a lie, but it's not always the case. It means that whatever the person is saying - he's not quite sure about it, or he's uncomfortable in his situation. To be more accurate, you need to watch carefully if the lick appears especially in regards to specific issue or detail.

And lastly, licking the lips can have much simpler interpretations:

  • Chapped lips

  • During extensive physical activity

  • Deep concentration

Biting Lips

Biting has a very similar meaning as licking - nervousness and attraction signals, because it's just a different way to stimulate the lips.

Commonly displayed in 3 forms:

Biting the upper lip – not a very pretty this one. Our lower teeth are not the most presentable part of our face.
Plus it creates some not compelling marks on your upper lip. Biting the lower lip – a "better" form of biting them can be sexy if you know what you're doing. Swallowing the lips – both of the lips disappear between the 2 rows of teeth.

Meaning:

Biting the lips can be seen as somewhat stronger form of licking them. It's much more obvious and it's one of the trademarks of insecure, shy type of people.

Swallowing the lips can be seen as the extreme version of "tense lips" and is usually a strong indicator to self-restraint - be it anger or holding back thoughts.

Biting the lips can be a flirtatious and sexy, since the bite emphasizes the fullness of the lips. For women it's sort of a childish display, again, a tactic often used on men to evoke in them protective emotions.

If you do want it to appear sexy - avoid "rabbit teeth" and biting the upper lip.

Sticking out the tongue

It doesn't require explaining, does it? :P

Let me conclude…

Alright, now that we're done let me summarize what we learned of lips in body language:

* Humans are quite different from other animals in the shape and use of their lips. For us, lips play a big role in communication - both verbally and non-verbally.

* Lips in terms of body language revolve mainly about 2 things - tension and sexual communication. This is due to the fact that they are an erogenous zone and very sensitive to touch. Meaning we either touch them for stimulation or for self-comfort.

* We have a great flexibility with the muscles around our mouth, what allows us to create tons of different expressions with it. Sometimes they're similar but carry distinct emotions. Most of them you'll recognize instinctively - so don't sweat it!

* I talked about the relation of lips with flirting, especially in women, and you saw some powerful ways to use such signals. The body language of lips can be a very powerful tool of seduction.

Done?

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