Upward Puller I:
The Sneering Muscle_
If the corrugator makes us human, the levator labii superioris, the sneering muscle, is the muscle that makes us obnoxious. If there was a popularity contest for facial muscles, this one would lose, hands down; there's no elegant or flattering or nice way to use this muscle. We tend to use it when we think something stinks, literally. Or when we're furious. Or when we're crying our hearts out.
What the levator labii superioris does in particular is to lift the upper lip in a sneer. The "lip raiser" also curls up the nose and wrinkles the eye area in the process. Its distinctive effect on the countenance, when acting alone, might be out of place in a portrait, but it does appear in art in various other applications.
The muscle form of the levator labii superioris is like a river with three branches. All three branches come together and attach to the same spot: the circular muscle surrounding the lips, right below the wing of the nose. Some of the muscle fibers also attach much closer to the surface, along the skin line of the nasolabial fold (which their action deepens), and into the nose wing. If you sneer, you can see—and feel—the location next to the nose where all three parts of the muscle attach and the sharp crease that appears when they contract.
After they leave their shared attachment, the three branches separate as they travel upward to their respective bony origins. One branch goes almost straight up alongside the nose, where it has a long attachment that goes as high as the nasal bridge. The middle branch attaches to the bone of the upper jaw, just below eyesocket. The outer branch, usually referred to as zygomatic minor, is fixed to the cheekbone at its widest spot, where it turns the corner to the side. We group these muscles together because the effect of their action is so similar: when any one contracts, it squares off the upper lip. Often, one branch contracts while the others relax.
Even though the mouth may look the same, the upper face, nose, and cheeks
Was this article helpful?