If we told you that you could gain all of the face-firming, -slimming, and -tightening benefits of a facelift without ever going under the knife, would you believe it? It sounds too good to be true, but new techniques touted by skin care brands, spas, and even “gyms” for the face claim that repeating specific movements can boost circulation and lift and tighten skin over time. TLDR: just like any other fitness regimen, exercising the muscles in your face can result in improved tone and slimness. But we're here to find out if a facial fitness routine actually be so effective as to replace plastic surgery — or even an anti-aging cream.Is face yoga effective?In short, yes — but you have to be committed to the regimen. “Because facial aging is due in part to muscle loss, if you can commit to a routine, exercise may strengthen those muscles, making the entire face look more firm and youthful,” explains Beauty Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann. In one study, testers who facially exercised for 30 daily over two months, then every other day for three months, reported an increased fullness in their cheeks, making them look nearly three years younger. “It’s a really great natural solution to regain your youthful appearance, and a great alternative to Botox and plastic surgery,” says Koko Hayashi, facial yoga instructor at Skin Fit Gym in Los Angeles. How often do you need to practice face yoga to see results?“Ideally every single day, if you want to see good results,” says Hayashi. Wizemann agrees that consistency is the only key to success: “If you like a challenge and can stick to a 30-minute daily beauty routine for at least five months, you could possibly look a couple of years younger.” But Wizemann adds that these exercises shouldn’t replace the proven efficacy of anti-aging skin care and sun protection.How does face yoga work?In facial fitness classes like Hayashi’s (which run $200 per 50-minute session), you’ll learn to “wake up your sleeping muscles in your face” to improve tone (she says 80% of them lay dormant), and “relax your facial muscles, especially your over[worked] muscles which cause wrinkles” she explains. To smooth wrinkles and firm up saggy spots, Hayashi shared her five best face yoga exercises. You might feel silly making these faces at first, but the results speak for themselves.
How to do the exercise: Start your “workout circuit” by blowing exaggerated raspberries not only just with the lips, but with the cheeks as well. “The bigger vibration is better for relaxing facial muscles,” says Hayashi. “Lip muscles are a core muscle for the face. By relaxing these muscles, other muscles are relaxed too.” How often to do it: At least once (and up to three times) per day, “or whenever you feel stressed,” says Hayashi.
Slim Your “Tech Neck” Double Chin
How to do the exercise: Keeping your shoulders down and relaxed, tip your chin up to the ceiling until you feel a good stretch in the upper neck and chin area. Then, alternate making duck lips and sticking out your tongue, holding each “pose” for 5 seconds each. Repeat three times. Make sure to keep your chin extended and keep your neck taut the whole while. Hayashi reminds that this should feel a bit strenuous: “If you don’t get tired, it’s not effective.” How often to do it: 1-2 times per day
Smooth Smile Lines
How to do the exercise: First off, don’t stop smiling and laughing! “If you don’t smile, you're not going to develop cheek muscle,” says Hayashi. Instead, tackle smile lines by “breaking down the tension in the muscle from the inside out by using the tongue.” Starting up by the nose, where Hayashi says the lines tend to be deepest, “stick your tongue inside your mouth and make a tiny circle on the labial line.” Do five circles clockwise and counterclockwise on each side to smooth smile lines.How often to do it: once per day
Firm Up Saggy Cheeks and Jowls
How to do the exercise: “Bulldog face is cute for dogs but not cute for us,” says Hayashi. “To remove the saggy cheeks, pull everything to the side: imagine your right teeth pulled to the left side of your mouth” in what should look kind of like a sideways kissy-face. Hold for 10 seconds for an effective exercise that “trains and stretches at the same time. It is a great way to improve skin elasticity,” Hayashi says.How often to do it: 3-5 times per day, for best results
Fight Eye Wrinkles and Crow’s Feet
How to do the exercise: Keeping shoulders back and relaxed, point your chin down to your chest and make an oval with your mouth. At the same time, look upward with just the eyes: “don't move your head or shoulders, you should feel stretching underneath the eye,” says Hayashi. Hold for three seconds, and then tuck the upper lip inside the mouth to make an “ahh” face. This circuit should give you “a deep stretch in the face … so that wrinkles don’t stay.” How often to do it: Once a day, no more. Otherwise, you risk bringing “too much stretch” to the skin and the muscles in the face.
Jessica is the editor for products and reviews at GoodHousekeeping.com, and a longtime product tester, reviewer, writer, and editor for beauty, lifestyle, health, and home content.
Sabina Wizemann, Good Housekeeping Institute
Senior Chemist, Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab
Sabina Wizemann is a senior chemist in the Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she conceives, creates and carries out experiments to evaluate beauty and health products.