Do Face Exercises Work? Spotlight on a Controversial Anti-aging Trend

An increasing number of beauty experts are claiming that face yoga can help fight the signs of aging. Medical professionals remain skeptical.

If sagging skin and wrinkles sends you running for the hills, you’re probably constantly on the lookout for non-surgical ways to reduce the effects of aging on your face. Unfortunately, the countless creams, facial scrubs, and moisturizers at your local drug store aren’t all as effective as they claim to be.

There is a cost-effective way to cultivate that coveted youthful look, though. It’s called face yoga, or face exercises, and many beauty experts point to it as an effective weapon against the outward signs of aging. However, medical professionals haven’t yet reached a consensus on the purported benefits of this increasingly popular beauty trend.

Do facial exercises really work?

You’re probably wondering if face yoga actually work. After all, how great would it be to find a simple solution to an age-old (pun intended) problem? Well, the answer essentially depends on who you ask.

Many people swear by facial exercises, claiming they function as natural facelifts that help them maintain or even regain a youthful appearance. There have been numerous facial exercise programs released over the years, along with dozens of magazine articles, blog posts and YouTube videos on the subject. Do a simple Google search on “face yoga” and you’ll be overwhelmed by the number results that pop up.

If the quantity of information doesn’t say enough about this approach, perhaps its pedigree might. It’s been written that Cleopatra used facial exercises to keep her face tight and youthful. So surely if it’s stood the test of that much time, there must be some truth to it, right?

Well, the flipside of the argument is equally well-supported but less widely reported, making it difficult to discern fact from fiction. Reputable books and websites present convincing arguments against facial exercises as a means of combating the natural process of aging. So where does that leave us?

Says who?

Generally, people place great importance on the assessments of doctors, scientists, and other professionals before trying out new beauty treatments. Unfortunately, when it comes to facial yoga the experts are not all of one mind.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, a well known alternative medicine proponent, recommends facial yoga to curb the effects of aging. He claims that the exercises help tone facial muscles, making the skin appear firmer.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, a reputed plastic surgeon based in Boston, MA, holds the opposite view with respect to facial exercises. On his website, Dr. Spiegel argues that the practice can actually exacerbate facial aging by causing repetitious movements, leading to even more stretching and wrinkling.

To date, there’s been very little scientific evidence on the effectiveness of facial yoga. The few studies that have been conducted have produced inconclusive results. As such, most if not all of the findings on the subject are anecdotal, and based strictly on personal experience – evidence which may or may not be factual or hold up to legitimate scientific scrutiny.

It’s also difficult to determine just how many active facial yoga practitioners there are, as there is something of a stigma about both aging and the exercises themselves. (After all, they do involve making some pretty strange faces.) As such, it’s quite possible that many people choose to practice face yoga in private and opt to keep the information to themselves.

That being said, at the same time there are quite a few celebrities who practice face yoga and aren’t afraid to admit it. Carolyn Cleaves (Carolyn’s Facial Fitness) and Carole Maggie (Facercise) are just two of several founders of facial exercise programs, and each swears by the effectiveness of their own products.

How is it done?

If you’re interested in trying out facial yoga exercises, we’ve included a few of the more common routines right here. You could always, of course, purchase a complete exercise program, but that’s a rather large investment to make for something that may not even work for you.

The exercises listed below are all fairly simple and straightforward, thus offering newcomers a solid starting point.

  • Nose Wiggle — Using the muscles in the rest of your face, wiggle your nose as far as you can from side to side. Wiggle for several seconds before moving on to the next exercise.
  • Eyebrow Lifts — Begin by raising your eyebrows as high as possible. Proceed to hold them in that position for 5-10 seconds. Repeat this process 5-10 times per session.
  • Mouth Stretch — Open your mouth as wide as you can. Maintain this position and simultaneously stick your tongue out as far as it will go. Hold position for several seconds and repeat accordingly.
  • Neck Workout — Find a comfortable place to sit and look straight up. Pucker your lips and push out as far as possible. This will also work your neck muscles. Stick your tongue out as far as it will go while still puckering your lips. Repeat.
  • Smile Push-Ups — Apply gentle pressure to your cheeks with the three middle fingers of each hand. While pushing down, smile as exaggeratedly as you can in order to engage your cheek muscles. You should be able to feel your cheeks press against your fingers. Repeat exercise 5-10 times per session.
  • Happy Duck — Form the shape of a letter “O” with your lips and push them outward, making a “duck face.” After pushing them out as far as possible, transform your lips into a big smile that pulls the lips back. Repeat several times during each exercise session.
  • Long Face — The goal of this exercise is to stretch your face out as long as possible. Begin by raising your eyebrows as high as they’ll go. Open your eyes as wide as you can and, at the same time, attempt to frown. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat as you see fit.

Where do you stand?

What do you think? Do you believe face yoga could be a legitimate solution towards retaining healthy, youthful looking skin? Or is it yet another beauty gimmick marketed to gullible consumers?

At this point it’s difficult to draw any definitive conclusions on the effectiveness of facial yoga. Until sufficient, legitimate scientific research is made available, we therefore recommend that you favor tried and tested skincare regimens and anti-aging treatments.

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