It's a friendly social greeting you've seen a million times. Somehow, when you do it, you still feel awkward. Learn the correct way to cheek kiss once and for all.
Step 1: Start on the right Kiss the cheek on their right – your left – which is the one most commonly kissed. If you are the one being kissed, offer your right cheek automatically.
TIP: In most cases, men and women or women and women cheek kiss. Men hug or extend a hand to shake with other men.
Step 2: Balance yourself Balance yourself as you lean in. Place three fingers of your right hand on their left shoulder where the shoulder meets the arm.
TIP: You may also grasp each other's hands at chest height.
Step 3: Get cheek to cheek Turn your head at a 45-degree angle and bring your cheek in so that it is barely touching their cheek. This is technically an air kiss, so your lips never actually touch their cheek.
TIP: Air kissing is especially desirable to avoid smudged lipstick and spreading germs.
Step 4: Purse your lips Purse your lips while your cheeks are touching and kiss the air to the side of their face. Avoid smacking sounds. Saying 'mwah' is acceptable if you know the person well.
Step 5: Repeat Repeat on their left cheek if desired, and repeat up to four times when in France or when trying to give the impression of European sophistication.
FACT: Cheek kissing, the customary greeting among the French, is known as "la bise."