It’s a trend on all the socials, and chances are if you’re a midlife woman interested in skincare or makeup you might have seen the videos: people claiming facial exercise or face yoga has improved their appearance. But does it work?
Proponents claim face yoga firms the jaw, lifts the face and smooths wrinkles, like a natural facelift. Face yoga uses exercises along with massage and acupressure techniques to do this.
It sounds a bit far-fetched, but there has actually been some research on this. The studies are small, and the results are tricky to measure. Some have found very little impact of facial exercises on appearance, while others have noted small changes. One study in 2018 had a group of middle-aged women perform a 30-minute facial exercise routine every day for 20 weeks. Most of the women reported more fullness in their faces and were happy with the results.
Auckland dermatologist Sonya Havill says she can see how this might work to improve a loss of volume in the face that tends to make skin sag.
“Theoretically you could have some muscle loss in your face, along with fat [as you age]. And so exercising those muscles would stop volume loss from those muscles.”
She notes it’s unlikely to have a dramatic effect, though.
“It wouldn’t do any harm for sure. And it’s free, obviously. I don’t think you’d want to spend an hour a day doing it thinking that you were going to change the shape of your face. But I think certainly you could add it to anything you were doing without doing any harm.”
Face yoga might also have some mood benefits. One interesting small study of older people (65-87) had the group doing twice-weekly exercises consisting of ‘rhythmic facial movement, muscle stretching, facial yoga, and Tanden breathing’. Their mental health, facial expression, and tongue muscle power all improved after 12 weeks.
There might also be some relaxation and tension relief benefits from stretching and moving the face mindfully, as in some traditional yoga movements, such as Lion’s Breath or Lion’s pose, especially when combined with breathing.
Bottom line: face yoga probably won’t give you the same results as a jaw lift or fillers. But it might give minor improvements to the appearance and also relieve stress, help mood, and boost confidence.
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