Face Yoga: Does it really work?

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Wrinkles, jowls, and double chins. As we age, our faces begin to show signs that many of us would rather minimize, if possible.

Enter face yoga. It's growing in popularity and it's easy to see why—it's praised as a non-invasive, natural alternative to chemical peels, creams, and fillers. 

But is there any truth to these claims?

Keep reading as we explore face yoga benefits, the science, and facial yoga exercises you can do at home.

What is face yoga?

Put away your yoga mat and get up from the floor (for now). You won't need them for this kind of yoga.

Face yoga is a form of facial exercise that targets the skin, muscles, and lymphatic system. Just like you'd exercise your body in the gym or with your favourite sport, you can apply that same thinking to your face. 

Repeating exercises that tense and relax your facial muscles has been reported to give skin a plumper look, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and boost your complexion.

But how much truth is behind these claims? First, let's explore the potential benefits of facial yoga.

What are the benefits of face yoga?

Naturally, with any alternative treatment to facelifts, fillers, or botox, you have your skeptics. Not everyone believes the hype around face yoga, but there are many who swear by it. 

So what are the purported benefits of facial yoga exercises?

Practitioners of facial yoga boast that it can:

  • Tighten the appearance of the skin
  • Reduce puffiness around the eyes
  • Give skin a natural 'glow'
  • Sculpt the jaw and reduce jowls
  • Improve the appearance of fine lines

It's thought that the skin gets a 'brighter' appearance due to stimulating the blood flow with massage. 

And as for the reduction of saggy skin and lines, over time, facial muscles increase in size and 'fill out' the saggier areas, giving your face a smoother look.

But it's not just for vanity. Apparently, face yoga has been reported to help reduce the symptoms of:

  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Bell's Palsy, a condition that temporarily weakens the facial nerves

Aside from the surface benefits of face yoga exercises, face yoga is non-intrusive, non-toxic to the body, and safe for most people to carry out at home. 

Surgical or medical procedures are often a cause for concern for many people. Face yoga eliminates most of these risks and worries. 

Oh, and did we mention? It's free, as you just use your hands and face to perform the exercises. No special equiment necessary! 

Are there any drawbacks to face yoga exercises?

So far, face yoga is sounding pretty good, right? It's safe, free, and fans rave about how good it makes them look.

But like with any exercise regimen, seeing results won't happen overnight. 

And that means time and consistency. A lot of it. 

To see results from face yoga, you'll need to dedicate around 30 minutes every day, seven days a week. Results will appear visible after a few weeks.

Also, it's wise not to overdo it. Overexerting muscles can cause discomfort, pain, and even worsen some wrinkles like crow's feet and forehead lines. 

So if you can't wait to see results, then face yoga may not be for you.

Is face yoga backed by science?

The short answer to this is, yes and no.

Limited studies have been performed in recent years on the effectiveness of facial exercises to improve the overall appearance. 

One study in 2018 found that a small sample of 16 middle-aged women saw a younger appearance after 20 weeks of consistent face yoga. They reported fuller upper and lower cheeks and looked younger by a mean average of two years.

However, there just isn't enough scientific data to confirm for sure whether face yoga actually works. There would need to be far larger studies with more participants to test the theory out.

For now, we'll have to rely on the abundant anecdotal evidence instead.

How do you get started?

There are many self-proclaimed face yoga experts providing courses, workout videos, and books on how to perform face yoga. 

For beginners, it's important to start slow with plenty of rest, so that the facial muscles don't get overworked. 10-15 minutes a day is fine if you're just starting out, working up to 30 minutes a day.

From the JAMA Dermatology study, we've compiled a list of easy exercises to get started.

For sculpting your cheeks

  1. Smile as broadly as you can, without showing your teeth.
  2. While doing so, pout your lips. You'll feel a slight burning in the muscle.
  3. Continuing smiling, press your index fingers into the corners of your mouth.
  4. Gently slide those fingers up over your cheeks to the corners of your eyes.
  5. Hold for 20 seconds and release.
  6. Repeat three times.

For lifting your eyebrows

  1. Hold three fingertips under each eyebrow.
  2. Smile as you try to push your eyebrows lower against your fingertips. 
  3. Hold for a moment, then close your eyes and roll them upwards while continuing to smile.
  4. Release after 20 seconds, and repeat three times.

For developing your temples

  1. Clench your jaw and tilt your chin up as you press your temples with your fingertips.
  2. Move your ears backward.
  3. Clench your teeth for 10 seconds.
  4. Release, and repeat three times.

The verdict: does face yoga work?

Although there is limited scientific data to back the benefits, many people do see benefits to their complexion and face shape over time.

Face yoga could be ideal if you have the patience and dedication to perform regular exercises on a long-term basis if you'd prefer a safer alternative to medical and surgical procedures.

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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