Emotional Empathy Gets Harder Once You’ve Frozen Your Face With Botox

In a cruel twist of fate, it turns out that people vain enough to have botulinum toxin injected into their faces to avoid wrinkles may also have their own emotional abilities stunted. The face-freezing effects of Botox make it hard for users to read the emotional expressions of other people, according to a new study.

Italian researchers showed the effect is caused by the phenomenon of embodiment—or embodied cognition—a theory that says our brains process other people’s emotions better when our bodies mimic them. In this case, we unconsciously mimic facial expressions to better understand the emotional state of another person. We make a small smile to better understand the smile we see on the person we’re talking to, for example.