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How to Look Years Younger with Face Yoga: Expert Insights

by Daisy

There are over two dozen muscles on each side of your face, yet no gym equipment is designed to target or tone them. If you’ve been diligent about exercising your body, can the same be done for your facial muscles? According to many experts, the answer is a resounding yes, as long as you commit to a consistent face yoga practice.

While many upscale spas and salons offer “face gym” services, you can perform facial yoga at home for free. Here’s what the experts have to say.

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Does Science Back It Up?

“A lot of people hold tension in their faces, and facial yoga can help alleviate that tension,” says physical therapist Sandra Gail Frayna. “Facial-focused yoga exercises can help you achieve a more sculpted and youthful look by allowing muscles to relax,” she told HuffPost.

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Scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of facial toning exercises, also known as facial yoga. In a five-month Northwestern Medicine study, a 30-minute daily or alternate-day facial exercise program improved the facial appearance of middle-aged women, resulting in a younger look with fuller upper and lower cheeks. Evaluators noted an almost three-year decrease in age appearance over the study period.

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“There’s some evidence that facial exercises may improve facial appearance and reduce visible signs of aging,” said Dr. Murad Alam, lead author of the study and vice chair and professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The exercises enlarge and strengthen the facial muscles, making the face firmer and more toned, resembling a younger face.”

Stronger facial muscles can benefit sagging, aging fat pads. “If the facial muscles become bigger, the skin has more stuffing underneath it, making the face appear fuller,” said senior study author Emily Poon, an assistant research professor in dermatology at Feinberg. “It increases facial volume and counteracts the effects of age-related fat thinning and skin loosening.”

How Facial Yoga Works

The facial exercises used in the Northwestern study were developed by Gary Sikorski of Happy Face Yoga, a co-author of the study. Sikorski, a certified facial toning yoga instructor, explained, “These exercises are a natural alternative to plastic surgery. The isometric and resistance work is similar to using weights for strength training the body.”

Sikorski suggested that facial yoga can enhance blood circulation, with visible improvements often appearing in just two to three weeks. “The skin will become more elastic and softer,” he said. A consistent program can also “widen eyes, lift cheeks, lift mouth corners, and firm the jawline. As muscles are toned and lifted, skin will be tightened and smoothed, helping to smooth away fine lines.”

No equipment is necessary; you can do face yoga at no cost in your own home.

Facial Yoga Exercises to Try

Research participants performed 32 exercises, holding each for about a minute. Here are some exercises to get you started:

Cheek Lifter: Open your mouth and form an O, position your upper lip over your teeth, smile to lift cheek muscles up, place your fingers lightly on the top part of your cheeks, release the cheek muscles to lower them, and lift back up. Repeat by lowering and lifting the cheeks.

Happy Cheeks Sculpting: Smile without showing teeth, purse lips together, smile to force the cheek muscles up, place your fingers on the corners of the mouth and slide them up to the top of the cheeks, hold for 20 seconds.

Lion’s Pose: Recommended by dermatologist Jeannette Graf, sit comfortably, lean forward with hands stretched on the floor, take a deep breath, and on exhalation, open your mouth and make a loud “haaa” sound like a lion’s roar. Exhale completely, pointing your tongue toward your chin. “Over time, you’ll notice benefits in your breathing, throat chakra, neck, eyes, and skin smoothness,” Graf said.

Take It Easy and Be Consistent

The good news is that you don’t need to exert yourself excessively to benefit from these exercises, which can easily be done during routine Zoom calls (with the camera off, of course). Elsa Jungman, Ph.D. in skin pharmacology, emphasizes a relaxed, holistic approach to facial toning.

“The No. 1 reason for skin issues is mental health problems,” she told HuffPost. “Research shows that stress produces cortisol, which affects the skin. Facial yoga exercises can help significantly.” Jungman views the practice as gentle self-care rather than rigorous exercise. “It’s more about reconnecting with your skin and helping it relax. In France, we recommend just a few minutes of exercise a day.” Her website features short videos of exercises like Ear Pinch, Blowing Raspberries, and Eye Victory, and even a Serum Ceremony for applying products mindfully.

Consistency is key. “You have to do facial exercises consistently — 20 to 30 minutes per day, six to seven days a week,” says dermatologist Shilpi Khetarpal, associate professor of dermatology at the Cleveland Clinic. “It takes at least three to four weeks before you start to notice results.”

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