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Face Yoga: 5 Exercises to Build Facial Muscles and Look Younger

Yoga’s benefits for the body, including toning, strengthening, and relaxation, are well known. But what about yoga exercises for your facial muscles? One of the hottest new trends to hit the fitness scene, some people believe that face yoga can work. Read on to learn all about this easy and free face-toning workout. 

What is face yoga?

Face yoga consists primarily of two kinds of facial exercises. Its concept of “waking up” sleeping muscles is believed to rejuvenate and strengthen the muscles in the face if practiced regularly.

The idea behind face yoga is that muscles in the face need and benefit from regular exercise as much as any other part of the body. The exercises are broken down into two categories: moves that wake up underused muscles in the face and moves that relax muscles that get overused or stressed. Muscles that some believe need to be awakened are in areas like the cheeks and under the eyes. On the other hand, relaxing moves are practiced in places like the forehead, around the mouth, and between the eyebrows, areas that typically get overworked.

Teachers of the practice explain that by using the same muscles day in and day out, those facial areas are prone to accelerated signs of aging. At the same time, certain facial muscles get no attention at all, causing them to lose elasticity and strength. By doing face exercises regularly, practitioners believe that these muscles are able to relax and strengthen simultaneously.

Similar to any yoga class, each session consists of a series of postures designed to flow from one to the next. Classes are typically 30 minutes long and can consist of dozens of different moves.  

Is face yoga effective?

There haven’t been many scientific studies about the effectiveness of facial exercises, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of devotees. Users claim that regular facial yoga exercises are very effective. 

Face yoga has a long history, going as far back as Cleopatra’s time. Still, this doesn’t mean that face yoga makes you exempt from the rules of aging. As we age, our skin produces less collagen and elasticity. Some people believe that face yoga could be one method that can minimize the impact.

As we age, our skin produces less collagen and elasticity. Some people believe that face yoga could be one method that can minimize the impact.

One small study showed that facial yoga did help women’s faces look younger. For five months, participants practiced a 30-minute series of moves once a day. Some were concerned that the exercises would actually increase the number of wrinkles and crow’s feet because of the repetitiveness of the positions. But not only did this not happen, the opposite occurred. Participants reported an improvement in overall tightness, elasticity, and tone. The most significant improvement was seen in the cheek area. Fuller cheeks aren’t surprising, since those five months of practice focused partially on strengthening cheek muscles. Just like squats build leg muscles, facial yoga exercises for the cheeks are thought to build cheek muscles. The main difference is that fingers, not weights, are used to create resistance. 

Although this study reported that facial exercises can be effective, additional research is still needed. It’s worth mentioning that some dermatologists actually believe that these exercises may exacerbate skin wrinkles or make no significant difference. 

Face yoga exercises to try out

While there are a number of possible moves, the following is a short list of the most commonly known and practiced exercises for strengthening facial muscles. 

Brow lifting exercise

Taking your index and middle fingers, form a peace sign. Place the tip of each finger on either end of your eyebrows. Gently push the brows down, then up. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions, then take a rest before doing another round. 

To help smooth forehead lines, try this move: Begin by placing your palms on the sides of your forehead, the base of each palm centered on the eyebrows. Hold the skin firmly in place. Alternate between raising your eyebrows in a surprised expression, then lowering them into an angry expression. Do this 10 times, holding in a raised position following the final repetition for a 30-second count. Then repeat the hold in the lowered position. Repeat one more set of 10 repetitions. 

Mandibular strengthening exercise

To reduce the look of a double chin, try this mandibular, or lower jaw, strengthening exercise. Doing this exercise also helps the lower jaw with all its necessary daily functions, such as chewing and talking. It is also one of the more popular facial exercises for jowls. Keeping your mouth slightly closed, separate your teeth as far as possible from each other without opening your mouth. Slowly, move your lower jaw forward as far as it can reach and hold for 5 seconds. Return to your original position just as slowly.   

Smiling exercise

Use this smiling exercise to strengthen cheek muscles. Before beginning, make sure your neck and head are not jutting forward. Taking your middle three fingers, press gently yet firmly down on the cheeks. As you do this, smile as hard as you can, using your fingers to create resistance and build muscle.

Facelift exercise

Another similar move uses different degrees of a smile to work the muscles in your face. You will use your fingers here to create even more resistance for the muscles around your mouth. Smile big and hold it in place with your fingers for 10 seconds. Using your fingers to resist the movement, close your lips partway, then all the way. Hold each position for 10 seconds. 

OO–EE exercise

This simple exercise targets the muscles between the nose and upper lip, as well as the lips. Using exaggerated movements and sound, this is one of the more familiar exercises for facial muscles. Forming your lips into an exaggerated “O” (with lips covering teeth) say “OO,” holding for a second or two. Move from this posture into an exaggerated “EE” position, making the “EE” sound while stretching your lips into a big smile. Practice the OO–EE exercise for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.  

Other ways to keep your face young for longer

There are a number of important ways to maintain healthy skin. All should be part of an overall daily self-care routine. 

  • Smile more. Smiling is a way to work the muscles in your face throughout the day. It is also a quick mood booster, and according to research, creates more feel-good brain chemicals than eating a bar of chocolate. 
  • Clean up your diet. The old adage “Beauty comes from within” is true. What you eat (and drink) plays a significant role in your skin’s appearance. Antioxidants like red berries and vegetables, green leafy veggies, healthy fats (like avocado and olive oil), and seafood can all go a long way to keeping your skin looking young. Deciding which foods to leave out (such as processed products, fried foods, and inflammatory fats such as canola or sunflower oils) is just as important as choosing which foods to put into your body.
  • Use sunscreen every day. Research has shown that the sun damages skin. Apply sunscreen every day, especially to your face, neck, and chest, and stay out of the direct heat of the sun during peak hours of the day.

The takeaway

If you can make the time to incorporate face yoga, some believe it may be beneficial if practiced regularly. When used as part of an overall approach to good health, facial exercises might be able to help keep your skin looking younger longer. 

https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2018/january/facial-exercises-help-middle-aged-women-appear-more-youthful/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29299598

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24327764

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