Science of People - Logo

Resting Bitch Face: How to Fix Your RBF Forever (With Science)

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Do you ever get asked questions like these on days you feel perfectly okay:

  • Are you angry?
  • Is something wrong?
  • Did I say something to offend you?
  • Why don’t you smile more?

If so, and you’ve probably already realized it, you may have “resting bitch face” (sometimes called RBF).

What is a Resting Bitch Face?

Vannessa with a smiling face and Vanessa with a resting bitch face

Resting bitch face is a problem dealt with by women and the occasional man (Kanye West, I’m looking at you) that makes them look irritated, upset, or otherwise unhappy when they are feeling perfectly calm and just resting their face. It also happens to people who are too tired to smile all the time.

When doing research for my book Captivate, I found a fascinating study on the science of the resting bitch face. It revealed why some people look calm and relaxed when they’re feeling neutral while others look like moody bitches.

YouTube video

What Creates Resting Bitch Face?

Jason Rogers, a behavioral neuroscientist, ran neutral pictures of celebrity faces through a face-scanning software to discover the differences between those who have resting bitch face and those who don’t. He found that a typical neutral face will only register approximately 3% of hidden emotions. So, their faces do in fact look neutral. People with resting bitch face however show an average of 6% underlying emotions and most of that is contempt.

Full contempt is shown when one side of the mouth is slightly raised. 

Some people’s mouths naturally raise on one side when they are resting, causing them to look contemptuous even though they’re feeling neutral. This can cause lots of problems since people subconsciously have negative reactions to expressions of contempt because it is the universal facial expression for hatred and disdain.

“Eastern European people are seen as very stoic and not showing a lot of emotion and … a lot of the people touted as having RBF are women.”

— Abbe Macbeth, behavioral researcher

If you want to learn more about contempt and why it plays such a big role in our perception of people, check out our article on The Science of Contempt.

Resting Bitch Face is in the Angles

People with resting bitch face also tend to have features that are naturally angled down. For example, some people have eyes that are downcast, making them look more tired and depressed while others have downward angled mouths that make them look perpetually upset. The latter is what creates my resting bitch face.

Notice how my lips are pointed slightly downward like a small frown. This is why people often think I’m upset when nothing is wrong.

Vanessa's Resting Bitch Face

Just like the features that create resting face, there are all sorts of slight variations in your face that send strong messages to the people you interact with.

How to Get Rid of (And Cure) Your Resting Bitch Face in 7 Steps

Having a resting bitch face and being constantly perceived as moody is super annoying. Here are 7 simple tricks to stop suffering from it.

  1. When you are looking at someone, look up at them. This makes your eyes more open and less downcast.
  2. Use makeup to reshape your downcast eyes. For downcast eyes, women can use eyeliner and shadow to draw more attention to their upper eyes to make them appear more open.
  3. Replace your neutral frown with a small smile. If you have a naturally downcast mouth, slightly holding your cheeks up – it doesn’t have to be all the way into a smile – you can eliminate the appearance that you are frowning.
  4. Use the eyebrow flash. An eyebrow flash is when you lift your eyebrows in recognition whenever you see someone. The flash is a great way to say, “I recognize you and I’m friendly!” We do this to our friends and loved ones. Flash to appear more approachable.
  5. Put your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Take your tongue and touch it to the back of your front teeth, similar to mewing. This will help relax your facial muscles and help with that slight smile.
  6. Accessorize. A pair of eyeglasses (even fake ones) can drastically shift your appearance and even help mask your RBF. Try wearing eyeglasses and earrings that are fun, and wear brighter clothing—this will help counteract an unapproachable face.
  7. Own it.  You are under no obligation to change your resting bitch face. It’s a part of who you are and if you choose to embrace it, you can ensure the people who hang around you judge you based on your words and actions and not something as superficial as your resting face.

8 Famous Celebrities with Resting Bitch Face

If you have resting bitch face, you are not alone. Here are some famous celebrities who have made their resting face famous.

  1. Kristen Stewart has a resting bitch face. She has been repeatedly called-out on various websites for her RBF condition and even told to smile more.
Kristen Steward quote about smiling
  1. Emily Blunt has been told she has resting bitch face:
Emily Blunt resting bitch face
  1. Kourney Kardashian. Does she have RBF? You be the judge: 
Kourney Kardashian resting bitch face
  1. Cara Delevigne can’t stop having a resting bitch face:
Cara Delevigne's resting bitch face
  1. Victoria Beckham. Neither can this fashion designer:
Victoria Beckham resting bitch face
  1. Anna Kendrick has publicly states she hates it:
YouTube video
  1. Queen Elizabeth II. Even Queen Elizabeth herself has a bad case of RBF:
Queen Elizabeth's resting bitch face

7 Male Resting Bitch Faces (aka Resting Asshole Face)

Yes, men can get resting bitch face, too… although in this case, let’s call it resting asshole face (RAF)!

And it might be more common than you think:

  1. Neil Patrick Harris. “My resolution this year is to not scowl so much,” Neil Patrick Harris said during the 2018 Golden Globes. . “I realize that even just pondering that, I’m scowling. I’m not mad. Apparently, I do this while I’m thinking,” he joked. 
Neil Patrick Harris quote
  1. Kanye West also has a rather iconic RAF where he can go from happy to cold-stare in the blink of an eye:
  1. Gordon Ramsay. Love cooking? You might have seen Gordon Ramsay’s rather mean face on Hell’s Kitchen:
Gorddon Ramsay's resting bitch face
  1. Eminem, the famous rapper, has resting asshole face in most of his photos, including his Twitter account:
Eminem resting bitch face
  1. Simon Cowell. It just goes without saying that the British television star also has RAF all throughout America’s Got Talent and The X-Factor:
Simon Cowell's resting bitch face
  1. Leonardo DiCaprio. And THE Leo? Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio is also known to have a resting asshole face:
Leonardo DiCaprio Resting Asshole Face
  1. Donald Trump. Oh, and this list wouldn’t be complete without listing former US President Donald Trump:
Donald Trump  Resting Asshole Face

How to Create a Resting Bitch Face

Want a great way to nonverbally tell someone to move on? Actress Emma Roberts perfected her resting bitch face for the television show, Scream Queen. Why? Because her character, Chanel, gives a lot of bitch face! Here’s how to create the nastiest resting bitch face:

YouTube video
  1. Narrow your eyes. Look like you’re really mad and get those between-the-brow furrows activated.
  2. Purse your lips. Tighten them and make your lips disappear.
  3. Twitch your mouth as if you’ve got pent-up anger.
  4. Make the exit. If you’re in a conversation, flip your hair and end the convo to avoid after-RBF awkwardness.

You can use the RBF to your advantage to fend off unwanted cat-callers, focus on your remote work without being distracted by others, or even make a bold statement with your biggest enemy.

Other Resting Face Types

Not all resting faces are bitchy. You can pretty much find all types of emotions in resting faces:

  • Resting Murder Face. The type of face you can only imagine a serial killer has. A stone-cold stare is a must.
  • Resting Happy Face. People with this face look like they’re constantly happy, or at least in a decent mood.
Jin from Korean pop group’s BTS with his upturned-lips. Source
Jin from Korean pop group’s BTS with his upturned-lips. Source
  • Resting Shade Face. The type of face that makes you look like you’re constantly up to no good. People with this face would do best to avoid going to convenience stores at 2AM.
  • Resting Sad Face. Do you look like you’re about to constantly cry, even if you’re engaged in a difficult math problem (or setting your goals)? You might have a resting sad face.
Actor Kit Harington with his resting sad face
Actor Kit Harington with his resting sad face.
  • Resting Creep Face is another face popularized by Netflix’s Astronomy Club. Resting creep face is certainly real, and if you have it, you might want to master your facial expressions the next time you ask someone on a date.
YouTube video
  • Resting Surprised Face. People with this face may have raised eyebrows and normally larger eyes. This face screams, “Woah!” but in reality, they may be calm as a rock.
resting surprised face
  • Resting Smug Face. This face can be seen from a person who appears to naturally have or show excessive pride in his/her self, without meaning to.
Bruce Willis Resting Smug Face
Bruce Wilis sporting the resting smug face.
  • Resting Grinch Face. This is the type of face that not only says, “I hate presents,” but “I’ll steal the cookies, too.”
YouTube video

How Common is Resting Bitch Face?

People have had resting bitch faces since humans were on this Earth. Just take a look at this caveman if you don’t believe it:

Full Character Prosthetic - Caveman

Bonus: Grumpy Cat (Resting Bitch Face Cat)

Have you ever seen the grumpy cat meme? Apparently, cats can have resting bitch face too.

Grumpy Cat (Resting Bitch Face Cat)

So if you have a case of resting bitch face, it’s OK!

Learning to practice self-love, knowing how to not be a people pleaser, and increasing your self-worth will ultimately lead you to a better place than trying to get rid of your RBF.

Trust me, I know from experience.

How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

Do you have a difficult boss? Colleague? Client? Learn how to transform your difficult relationship.
I’ll show you my science-based approach to building a strong, productive relationship with even the most difficult people.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Get our latest insights and advice delivered to your inbox.

It’s a privilege to be in your inbox. We promise only to send the good stuff.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.