You are a thing of beauty, aged to perfection like a fine wine. There are many benefits to growing old with grace. However, there is one part of us all that never seems to enjoy the journey of years under the sun—our skin.
Beyond all the usual beauty tips and tricks, there is one key underutilized tool that you can apply to your own life.
Let’s take a little excursion into the world of facial exercises, fondly known as Facial Yoga.
What is Face Yoga?
The facial muscles are just like the muscles of your body—if you don’t work them, they will become saggy and worn out. Facial exercise means practicing strategic face movements using stretching and repetitive motion in order to activate skin cell regeneration, prevent saggy skin, and promote anti aging skin care.
But going into face yoga blindly can be more of a hindrance than a help. Doing the facial hokey pokey and yanking your skin around is going to cause the wrong kind of tension and can damage it by increasing wrinkling. That’s why adopting a routine practice of careful and intentional muscle stimulation is key.
Anti-Aging Benefits of Facial Exercises
When done right, facial exercises can do a lot to improve the youthfulness of your skin, but the benefits don’t stop there:
Accessible anti-aging – This is one workout that doesn’t require a gym membership. It’s a free and natural method of skin rejuvenation.
Mini-massages – Facial exercises can help you de-stress and release the tension held in your neck and face through massage.
Promoting healthy blood flow – Working your facial muscles reduces wrinkles through compression and contraction, encouraging circulation and blood flow. This allows the skin to shed the dead cells more rapidly and tightens loose skin.
The Science in Your Face
The face is composed of 52 muscles, all working together to express the inner radiant you.
These muscles are supported by an extracellular skin matrix that is composed of the fibers collagen and elastin. These fibers give the skin its tight and firm shape. As we get older, those cells are reduced.
As the body ages, the puppy fat of younger days starts to wear away, but not always in the places we want. In our faces, the pads of fat start to thin. This can result in a “fallen-in” look to areas of the face.
Do Facial Exercises Work?
Yes, facial exercises do work. Dr. Murad Alam, a Northwestern University dermatology professor, investigated the relationship between facial exercises and skin appearance. Here is the breakdown of his study’s process and findings1:
The individuals tested were between the ages of 40-65 and monitored for 20 weeks.
For eight weeks, the participants did facial exercises every day for 30 minutes. From the ninth week through week 20, they alternated days.
The results were measured using before and after photos. The researchers used a facial aging measuring scale to determine the differences as the weeks went on.
The average skin age of the women at the beginning was 50. But the researchers observed that by the twentieth week of the study, the women’s average skin age had decreased to 48.1 years.
You read that right. In just five months, the women had turned back the clock and improved the age of their skin by three years. Talk about an anti aging facial!
Does face yoga work? Yes—but only if you stick to a healthy routine.
Here are six simple exercises for you to perform for ten minutes every day:
#1 The Puffin
You want ALL the cheeks of the body to be firm and taut with extra lift.
Fill your cheeks with air.
Push the air from one side to the other five times.
Let the air out, forming an “O” with your mouth.
Repeat three to four times.
#2 The Mistletoe
This puckering-up exercise helps to tighten and smooth the skin of the upper neck.
Turn your face up.
Pucker your lips, as if to deeply kiss your most beloved.
Hold for five seconds.
Stick your tongue out.
Complete five times.
#3 The Sumo Sandwich
This maneuver works on those pesky forehead wrinkles.
Make both hands into a fist.
Place against forehead with knuckles facing out, middle, and index knuckle putting pressure on your forehead.
Pull your fists away from each other, keeping those knuckles pressing on the skin.
Gently press the knuckles into the sides of the temples.
- Repeat three times.
#4 The Lion
This is a movement popularized by Greer Childers, a TV fitness guru leader in the 1990s. It can give you the ultimate scalpel-free facelift.
Begin by closing your eyes, inhale, and squeeze your face.
Open your eyes and form a small “o” with your mouth, face still tense.
Drop your jaw to form a large “O.”
Roll your eyes up to the ceiling, stretching out your face.
Stick your tongue out, trying to touch your chin.
- Hold your breath like this for eight seconds.
#5 The Mermaid
Time to work those fine lines around the lips.
Smile with your lips closed.
Purse your lips and suck those cheeks deep into the spaces between your upper and lower teeth to create that lovely fish look.
Hold for five seconds, then repeat.
#6 Owl Eyes
This movement aims to reverse the appearance of crow’s feet.
Create a V-shape with your middle and index finger, hands facing towards you.
Press the middle fingers together at the inside corner of the eyebrow with index fingers resting on the outside.
Exert a little pressure and lookup.
Pull the lower lids up to squint, try not to use your upper lids or wrinkle the skin around the eye socket.
- Relax then repeat four more times.
How Long Will it Take to See Results?
Start off slow, and over time you can increase the length of time, the range of exercises, and the frequency of these movements.
If you stick with it, you may see results in as little as two weeks. Take photos before you begin and set a date in the near future to take your after shot. Monitor your skin’s progress throughout your practice with weekly check-ins.
Supporting the Skin as It Ages
Just like you would work out the muscles of the body for a toned physique, making skin health exercises, a regular occurrence is key to youthful skin. Incorporate a few of these practices into your daily life for long term rejuvenation and a daily dose of self care.
#1 Replace Old Skincare Products
Are you still using old skincare products that are past their expiration date or holding onto skincare products that you haven’t used in years? It’s time to declutter your life and replenish your skin! The danger of expired products isn’t just the decrease in effectiveness, it’s also potential irritation and infection.
#2 Daily Skincare Routine
Now might be the time to consider revitalizing your skincare routine to specifically target those areas most prone to aging.
Hydrating delicate skin – Aging skin becomes more delicate. Hydrating and moisturizing are your two biggest allies in keeping supple skin texture.
Under-eye care – Caring for the eye skin is a central part of a maturing skincare routine. As your hormones change, so too does the skin’s ability to protect against sun damage, and the thinner areas of skin need more TLC. Use eye cream nightly to strengthen, firm, and plump the under-eye area.
- Strengthen the ECM – The ECM, or extracellular matrix, provides direct support to the structure of the skin. Using products that promote the ECM’s vitality can clear out decayed proteins and boost regeneration. ALASTIN’s patent-pending TriHex Technology® is specially formulated to lovingly restore your skin’s tightness and bring back the bright, rosy glow of youth.
Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Doctor Steven Cohen talks about his daily skincare regimen in this video. The second product he uses in his daily routine is the Restorative Skin Complex from ALASTIN. Doctor Cohen states, “The Skin Complex is a great product because it is a Tri Hex product that gets into the extracellular matrix which is the tissue around the cells that accumulate debris as we age and experience sun damage and this clears it out.”
Massaging doesn’t just help you relax at the end of a long day. A facial massage can help decompress muscles, promote healthy blood flow, and decrease skin-harming stress hormones in your body.
Using a Jade Roller
For a little bit of extra self-love, try massaging your face with a jade face roller. The purpose of using a roller on your skin is to mimic the effects of deep lymphatic massage. Rolling encourages drainage, directly decreasing puffiness and removing all that toxic sludge that builds up in the face from environmental stressors. Its soothing effect encourages plumpness in the tissue while also calming swelling and redness.
Try this jade roller trick: chill your roller in the fridge for a few hours before use and get ready to say “aaaaaaaaaah yes” to skin health, relaxation, and anti-aging. This is one of our favorite tricks for summer skin care for a nice refreshing and cooling massage.
#4 Nourishing Sleep
A good night’s sleep is everything! As we sleep, the body’s natural repair systems go into overdrive. You can help your skin’s healing functions with just a few tweaks to your sleep routine2 because some kinds of beauty sleep are better than others.
Be wary of sleeping on your side – Sleeping on your side lines the skin of your face and stretches it. When you sleep with a side of your face on the pillow, it can cause unevenness in skin tone and volume.
Try sleeping on your back – Sleeping on your back allows your face to breathe and rest. The lack of pressure will encourage a healthy release of dead skin cells in the face.
Pillow talk – The pillow you sleep on can contribute to skin aging by transferring bacteria and dust into the cells. Be sure to change your sheets once a week.
Skin as smooth as silk – According to dermatologists, investing in a silk pillow is great for your sleep and your skin. Silk’s smooth texture and lack of surface impact can decrease wrinkling while also maintaining moisture in your skin.
#5 The Sun and Your Skin
Most of what we think of as natural premature skin aging is, in fact, a direct result of harmful sun exposure. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate deep down through the skin’s layers and harm the essential, precious support structures in our dermatological systems. This can exacerbate wrinkles, decrease collagen production, and leave your skin limp and unnourished.
Here are some ways to keep that skin young and safe from the sun:
Apply sunscreen daily – Remember to apply sunscreen to the hands and face every day. Use a high SPF, even when it's cloudy. Reapply often for maximum coverage.
Stay in the shade – Try to avoid the sun when it’s at its strongest, between the hours of 10AM and 3PM. If you can’t, wear a hat.
- Protective glass – With long enough exposure, you can still get burned through window glass when driving. Invest in a screen protector and place it on the window when driving long distances.
Boost Your Confidence and Fight Aging with Facial Yoga
Incorporating new techniques of skin-loving care like facial yoga into your life can be a fun way to change up your routine and fight back against signs of aging. With just a few daily exercises, you will be taking back control of the aging process and owning your beauty inside and out. Facial exercises will become an investment in your skin’s long-term health and your self-confidence.
Plus, it’s one workout that will always give you a reason to smile.
- Paul, Marla. “Facial Exercises Help Middle-Aged Women Appear More Youthful.” Facial Exercises Help Middle-Aged Women Appear More Youthful, 2013, news.northwestern.edu/stories/2018/january/facial-exercises-help-middle-aged-women-appear-more-youthful/.
- Sundelin, Tina, et al. “Cues of Fatigue: Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Facial Appearance.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Sept. 2013, academic.oup.com/sleep/article/36/9/1355/2453883.