What the Heck Is Face Yoga (and does it actually work)?

Face Yoga

Is face yoga really a thing, and is it something that actually works? Oddly enough, the answer is yes, face yoga is a new trend. But, does that mean you can cancel your appointment with your aesthetician (for facials) or dermatologist (for Botox and fillers) and throw out all your expensive anti-aging products? That’s still up in the air.

What Is Face Yoga?

Did you know the face has over 40 muscles, and the neck and scalp are comprised of even more muscles? It’s true. This area used to be the exclusive purview of facial plastic surgeons and dermatologists. If you were seeking to turn back the clock, your only choices involved more invasive techniques such as facelift surgeries, chemical peels, laser treatments, and other less-than-desirable procedures.

Now, however, with the advent of more gentle anti-aging approaches, face yoga is just one of your choices if you’d like to retain (or regain) your youthful look. It’s often said that the number of muscles used to smile is less than the number needed to produce a frown. Either way, strengthening those muscles is what face yoga is all about.

Through a series of facial movements, combined with gentle fingertip pressure and resistance against those fingertips, researchers say you can strengthen and smooth the muscles under the skin of your face, just as you would anywhere else on your body.

What are the Benefits of Face Yoga?

Studies show your appearance can actually improve when you work on strengthening the facial muscles. 1 During a 20-week study with Dr. Murad Alam, the vice chairman of dermatology at Northwestern University, participants were taught 32 different face yoga exercises and instructed to perform them for 30 minutes a day for 8 weeks and then every other day for an additional 12 weeks. The results showed visible improvement in the smoothness and fullness of their faces, and the participants appeared to have carved several years off their faces.

And, the upsides don’t stop there. Other benefits of face yoga include:

  • It’s free
  • It’s non-toxic
  • It can be done almost anytime, anywhere
  • It may relieve tension in the face
  • It may ease neck pain
  • It may reduce eye strain
  • It may improve circulation
  • It may hydrate and nourish skin
  • It may plump up facial muscles
  • It may reduce the appearance of fine lines
  • It may help slow the progression of wrinkling skin

Ready to see what it can do for your face?

Try These Face Yoga Exercises

According to Meghan Markle’s aesthetician, Nichola Joss, do-it-yourself face yoga is a very effective, yet little known, beauty secret. And Meghan Markle credits face yoga with her fresh-faced look. 2

Here are a few moves to start with. It’s best to start with clean, dry skin and apply a light facial oil or cream to your fingertips.

Cheeks—to sculpt your cheeks, take in a big breath of air and puff your cheeks out. Next, transfer that air from one cheek to the other several times and then blow the air out through your mouth while shaping your lips into an “o” shape.

Crow’s feet—use a wink to relax the wrinkles around the eyes. Place your fingertips on your temples, next to the outer corners of your eyes. Gently wink the lower eyelid of your left eye and then repeat with your right. The act of winking, while gently pressing on the crow’s feet areas, should help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time.

Marionette lines—to counteract the lines that develop vertically on both sides of the mouth (also known as the nasal labial folds), begin with a large toothy smile. Place your fingertips into the folds on either side of your mouth, and apply gentle pressure. Continue to smile fully while allowing your facial muscles to push back against your fingertips.

Chin and neck—to strengthen your neck muscles and tighten your jawline, you’ll be performing a movement similar to throwing your head back in laughter. Tip your head straight back, smile, push your tongue against the roof of your mouth, and swallow.

Shocked face—raise your eyebrows and open your eyes wide. Hold this position for a count of ten and release. This exercise may help reverse the expressions you tend to hold on your face during the day.

Fish face—you’ve undoubtedly done this face yoga move as a child. Suck your cheeks in between your teeth, which will automatically cause your lips to pucker into a fish face look.

Oom face—work on total rest and relaxation for your face. Too often throughout the day, if you pay attention, you’ll find yourself frowning or otherwise carrying some sort of anxiety in your facial muscles. Release this tension by consciously taking a few minutes, several times a day, to completely rest your face.

While more research remains to be done of the veracity of face yoga, in the meantime, you can always turn that frown upside down and put on a happy face to look and feel a bit more youthful!