The Science on Facial Yoga: Does It Really Help?


The Science on Facial Yoga: Does It Really Help?

Facial yoga is the latest term for face exercises. Proponents swear that it is a new fountain of youth. But is it really?

Does facial yoga work? Some women swear that it does. It appears to produce moderate results for some people. But many doctors think the results are temporary at best. For as long as it has been around, there has been little scientific research done on the subject.

Today we are going to go through the pros and cons of facial yoga. And we will give you several different exercises to try at home for yourself. Whether it works or not is a topic for debate. But it certainly is entertaining to watch.

What Is Facial Yoga?

Facial yoga is a combination of facial exercises that are meant to stimulate the muscles of the face. The idea behind it is that these exercises will build the muscles, tighten the skin, and reduce signs of aging.

Proponents of facial yoga believe that strengthening the muscles of the face and neck through resistance training will improve circulation to the skin and make you look years younger.

With face yoga, there is also a focus on relieving the tension that is held in the face. You do it by contorting your face and making different expressions. People who do face yoga believe that by toning and engaging the small muscles in the face, you get a more relaxed and rejuvenated appearance.

Is It Really Yoga?

These face exercises have been labeled facial yoga, but it is not yoga in the classical sense.

In face yoga, there is no focus on the breath or pranayama. There is also no spiritual enlightenment or mind-body connection. The exercises are not asanas either.

Instead, facial yoga is just a series of exercises that you do with your face.

Is Facial Yoga New?

Facial yoga is a new trendy term, but the process has been around for a long time.

For example, take a look at this video filmed in the 1990s. In the video, the perky instructor, Greer Childers, demonstrates an exercise called the Lion. She makes an “O” shape with her mouth and then drops it down to stretch the top half of her face. She then sticks her tongue out and looks up toward the sky. 

According to Childers, this exercise will smooth and lift the skin, giving you an all-natural facelift.

But Childers did not create the concept of facial exercising. Jack LaLanne is considered the original godfather of fitness, and he was teaching these exercises back in the 1960s. Some people even believe that facial exercises were what kept Cleopatra looking young.

Facial yoga is just the latest iteration of a practice that has been promising women a return to youthful looks for a long time.

What Does the Science Say?

A lot of women believe in facial yoga. But what does the science say?

Well, for all the decades that women have been exercising their faces, there is little research to back up the claims.

JAMA Dermatology published the results of a promising study done in 2018, in that found improved results. Participants in the study found that the movements gave them firmer and fuller lower and upper cheeks. This suggests that doing regular facial exercises can make your skin look younger.

In the study, a small group of middle-aged white women performed more than 30 different exercises for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks. They then continued the “poses” every other day for another 12 weeks.

Dermatologists examined pictures of the women that were taken before and after the study to estimate their ages. They found that the women’s average age appeared to be 50.8 years before the study. After eight weeks, they said the average age had dropped to 49.6 years. And by the conclusion of the study, the dermatologists estimated that the women were 48.1 years old. 

Researchers found that the exercises worked by building muscle that filled out the face. The women believed that the process counteracted wrinkles and sagging skin that naturally comes with aging.

This study was great news for women looking for the fountain of youth. However, this is only one small study. And certainly, more research is needed before any definitive assessments can be made on the effectiveness of facial exercising.

Benefits of Doing Facial Yoga

While there isn’t a lot of official data on the subject, there are millions of women who wholeheartedly believe in the anti-aging results.

Here are some of the benefits that women are finding from doing facial yoga.

It is Not as Expensive as Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic surgery is a popular way for women to rejuvenate their faces. It is expensive, however. Facial yoga, on the other hand, can be done for free.

Some studios offer facial yoga classes, and those classes can cost as much as $200 for each 60-minute session. But you do not need expensive classes to start. In a minute, we will go over several exercises that you can practice in your own home without spending a dime.

The only thing that facial yoga costs is your time.

It Won’t Hurt You

One of the great things about facial yoga is that it is non-toxic and non-invasive. The jury is still out on whether it works, but it won’t hurt you to try it.

Many women use Botox to get a more youthful look. But Botox is derived from a venom. You don’t have to worry about that danger with face yoga.

Even regular anti-aging creams can contain undesirable ingredients like paraffin, heavy fragrances, and mineral oil.

Face yoga is all-natural without any of those harmful chemicals or needles. So you can feel safe and don’t have to bargain away your peace of mind to get that youthful glow.

It Might Slow the Aging Process

Regular facial expressions like smiling and squinting can contribute to wrinkles. This is just part of the aging process. But face yoga promises to slow the progression of aging.

Some of the exercises help you to recognize when you are unconsciously pursing your lips or furrowing your brows. It is incredible how many times we make these facial expressions out of habit. And those expressions can contribute to both tension and deeper wrinkles.

For some women, facial yoga will noticeably slow the aging process. It does not work for everyone, but if it won’t hurt you, why not give it a try?

It Can Relieve Facial Tension

One of the cool things about face yoga is that it helps to reduce tension in your face. We all carry stress around in our faces and necks.

Facial yoga exercises help you to become aware of the muscles in those places. And learning how to relax those muscles is a way to alleviate tightness and strain. Some women even say that facial yoga helps them to recover from chronic neck pain caused by stress.

It Can Improve Your Complexion

Exercising the muscles in your face means you are drawing blood and oxygen to this delicate skin. The extra circulation that you get can give your complexion a more youthful glow. The process can also stimulate collagen production, which will improve the appearance of your skin.

Face yoga doesn’t give you that frozen look that you get with Botox. It also doesn’t give you the red scarring that you get with other procedures. Chemical peels, for example, make your face red, and that can last for months.

The idea with face yoga is to give you a more relaxed look and a natural glow. While facial yoga doesn’t usually include yogic breathing, you can use the breathwork that you have learned in yoga to help you clear your mind of stress.

It Can Boost Your Self-Esteem and Confidence

The truth is, when you look better, you typically feel better. It also makes you feel better when you actively do something healthy for yourself. Many people who practice facial yoga say it gives them a confidence boost.

The exercises make you look silly. You are contorting your face into all sorts of funny positions. But hey, if it works who cares how goofy you look doing it, right?

So, What Are the Cons?

Many folks believe in facial yoga. But there are a few cons to the practice that you should know about.

It Takes a Lot of Time

Face yoga might not cost you any money, but it will take a considerable amount of your time. To see any results, you must commit to doing your facial exercises for around 30 minutes a day. And you have to do it for at least five days a week.

Most facial yoga instructors say that you must be committed to following this regimen for an extended period to see an improvement in your face. If you do your exercises for six months and then stop, the gains that you have made will be reversed.

There’s Not a Lot of Research

As we discussed earlier, there has only been one study conducted on facial yoga. That study offered promising results, but it has important to remember that it was only one small study. And it was not peer-reviewed. More research is needed before you can make any real conclusions on the effectiveness.

But even with that said, many proponents of the practice say that their own results are enough to sell them on it.

It Might Not Work

While some women claim that they have seen beautiful results from face yoga, many others say they saw no difference at all.

There are certain realities of aging that cannot be erased with exercise. Over time the amount of elastic and collagen in your skin decreases, which makes you look older. You can make goofy faces all day, but those facts are not going to change.

The truth is, it could work for some people but not others. There is no guarantee that these exercises will do anything more than make you look silly. Still, if there is a chance that it may take a few years off, it is not going to hurt you to give it a try.

It Could Make Wrinkles Worse

There are plenty of skeptics that facial yoga works. Some experts say that exercising the face can make wrinkles worse! They claim that repeated muscle movements weaken the skin’s elasticity.

Dermatologist Dr. Flor Mayoral says that face yoga does nothing to tone sagging skin. According to Dr. Mayoral, excessive muscle activity is known to contribute to wrinkling of facial skin.” 

This could mean exaggerated forehead creases, laugh lines, and crow’s feet.

Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, Boston University School of Medicine’s chief of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, agrees: “The truth is that many of our facial wrinkles come from excess muscle activity.”

Some participants also report that they had painful cramping and tight jaws after just one session of facial yoga.

Is Facial Yoga Worth Trying?

Well, that’s up to you to decide. As we have discussed, there is no real cost, other than your time to try facial yoga. And it is not toxic or invasive. There is a chance that it could work for you. But you have to keep in mind that doctors say it could also worsen your wrinkles.

16 Exercises That You Can Try at Home

If you want to give facial yoga a try, you don’t have to pay $200 for an hour session. We have got some exercises here that you can try for free. Once you learn the poses, you can practice them at home on your own.

1. The Warm-Up

Like with any exercise you do, you should start facial exercises with a warm-up.

To do this warm-up, you will simply blow raspberries with your lips. Try also to use your cheeks. The bigger you can make the vibration, the better. Doing so helps to relax the facial muscles.

Your lip muscles can be considered the core muscles of the face. When you relax them, the other muscles will relax too.

You can do this exercise one to three times per day or anytime you feel stressed.

2. Eye-Firmer and Cheek Plumper

For this face exercise, you start by placing your hands horizontally below your lower lash line. You want your index fingers to be under your lashes and your pinkie fingers just under your cheekbones.

Gently press your hands on the skin to hold the muscles in place.

Then squint your eyes while you squeeze the cheeks upward. It will look like you are making a squishy sour face.

You should hold the position for the count of five. And then repeat five times.

This video will show you an exercise for firming the eyes.

3. Facial Exercise for Sagging Neck, Jawline, and Jowls

Start this exercise by making an “O” with your mouth and covering your teeth with your lips.

Then place your index finger on your chin and gently press. Keeping your lips over your teeth, open and close your mouth as you slowly raise your chin toward the ceiling. Continue opening and closing your mouth as you bring your chin back to the starting position.

You should repeat this movement five times.

Here is a video showing you how to do it. 

4. Slim Your Double Chin

This is another exercise that you can do for your jawline. Begin by keeping your shoulders relaxed and pressed down. Lift your chin toward the ceiling until you feel a gentle stretch in the chin area and upper neck.

Keeping your head up, alternate between sticking out your tongue and making duck lips. You should hold each pose for five seconds. Repeat this exercise three times and do it one to two times every day.

5. Full Face Sculptor

Begin this exercise by placing the side of your palms on the sides of your face. With your pinkie fingers and sides of your hands press on the sides of your face from the outer edges of your eyes down to your cheeks.

Gently press the sides of your face back toward your ears as you bring all the muscles in your face toward the center and squeeze your eyes shut. It will look like you are making kissing motions.

You should repeat this movement 10 to 20 times. As your muscles get stronger, you can do up to 50 reps once per day.

This video will show you how to do the exercise.

6. All Over Face Toner

For this exercise, you will use your fist to create a platform under your chin for resistance. Tuck your chin to meet your fist. And then squeeze every muscle in your face. You should squint your eyes and pucker your lips.

Next, expand your face in the opposite direction. You will lift your eyebrows and eyes, open your mouth wide, and slightly lift your chin.

Alternate between the two exercises. Hold each one of them for a count of five. And repeat the entire thing for three to five times.

7. Smooth Smile Lines

Start by making an “O” shape with your mouth. Then using your index fingers gently tap upward from the sides of your chin to the sides of your nose. Tap along the smile lines while you do this.

Continue this movement while you keep your mouth in the “O” position for 30 seconds to two minutes. And repeat the exercise three times.

Here is a video that’ll show you how to do it.

8. Tongue Circles to Smooth Smile Lines

This is another exercise that will smooth out smile lines, but this one works from the inside of your mouth using the tongue.

Start this exercise by pressing your tongue into your cheek up by your nose. Make small circles with your tongue on the labial line. Do five clockwise circles and then reverse and circle counterclockwise with the tongue.

9. Cheek Toner

Start this exercise by placing your index fingers on the corners of your mouth. Then press your lips firmly together. As you squeeze your lips together, your cheeks will naturally lift.

Keep your fingers pressed firmly on the corners of your mouth as you do this exercise. You will squeeze your lips together and then release them.

To tone your cheeks, you will repeat this exercise 50 times a day for two weeks, then 100 times for two weeks, and then 150 times for two weeks.

This video will show you how to do it.

10. Scooping for Droopy Cheeks

This exercise will tone and lift droopy cheeks. Start by smiling big with your mouth open wide. Cover your lower teeth with your bottom lip. Then press your lower jaw forward. Try only to use your lower jaw as you scoop upward and close your mouth.

You should visualize that you are scooping up something weighty with your lower jaw. Each time you scoop, pull your chin up about an inch.

Repeat this exercise by opening, scooping, and closing the lower jaw ten times. On the tenth repetition, hold your chin tightly in the extended position tilted up toward the ceiling for 20 seconds. As you hold the pose think about the sides of your face lifting.

You will repeat this entire thing three times every day.

11. Minimizing Eye Wrinkles

For this exercise, you are going to wink your eyes using only the lower lids. Practice this movement one eye at a time. Use one of your index fingers to gently press the side of your eye to add some resistance. Your finger will press upward slightly. And then use just the lower lid to lift and release.

You should do 20 repetitions on each eye. Rest for a minute and then do 20 more on each eye.

This exercise is a little easier if you practice in the mirror.

Here is a video to help you learn how to do it properly.

12. Smiling Fish Face

The Smiling Fish Face will help you to tone and lift your cheeks. This one is straightforward. You make a fish face, sucking your cheeks in until your lips are pursed together like a fish. Then try to smile while holding the fish face. You will do the fish face and the smile at the same time.

You will have to practice this one to get it right. Once you get the hang of it, repeat five to ten times. You should do this exercise every day.

13. The Lion Face

This next exercise is to prevent or reduce wrinkles on your forehead, and it tones the entire face. It is called the Lion Face.

To do this one, you are going to take a deep breath in as you squish your face up as tightly as you can, including squeezing your eyes shut and puckering your mouth. Then release all the facial muscles and open your mouth wide with your tongue out as you exhale.

You should repeat this sequence at least ten times every day.

This video will show you how to do it.

14. Forehead Wrinkle Reducer

This is another excellent exercise to reduce forehead wrinkles. The basic movement of this one is just lifting and lowering your eyebrows. But you are going to use your hands to add some resistance to the process.

Place your fingers on the outsides of your forehead and gently press. Keeping your fingers in place lift and lower your eyebrows.

You are going to lift and lower your brows 20 to 40 times. Take a rest and then repeat the exercise.

15. Puffy Cheeks

This exercise will help you to reduce the lines that go from the corners of your mouth to your nose.

Begin by filling your cheeks with air. Let your cheeks puff out and fill your mouth with as much air as you can hold. Hold this pose for a total of 5 to 10 seconds. Then shift all the air to your right cheek only and hold it for another 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat the movement on the left side.

Next, fill your upper lip with air and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. And repeat filling your lower lip for another 5 to 10 seconds.

You should do this exercise three times every day.

This video will demonstrate the movement.

16. Jaw Stretch

The final exercise on our list is to tone your jawline and get rid of double chins.

Start by puckering your lips to the right side. Let your lips go as far to the side as you get them. You should feel a stretch in your left cheek. Then turn your head toward the right and lift your chin about 45 degrees. Hold this position for five seconds.

Repeat this movement three times. And then switch and do the other side.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that some women swear by facial yoga. It appears to work to some degree for some people. It’s an easy thing to do, and it’s not invasive or toxic. It also won’t cost you anything but a little time every day.

However, it is important to note that face yoga does not work for everyone. There’s also little scientific research on the subject. And some doctors believe that it can make wrinkles worse.

More research is absolutely needed before we can make a definitive judgment on facial yoga. If you decide to give it a try, I recommend doing it in front of a mirror. It may not end up being the ultimate fountain of youth, but it’s very entertaining to watch.

Have fun!

Dakota Carroll

Yoga have been a part of Dakota's life for 10+ years. Her practice has helped her grow stronger, more flexible and fearless. Dakota encourages her students to be creative and challenge the body. She seeks to inspire every student to feel refreshed, nourished and balanced both on and off the mat.

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