Oh the things we humans will do to make it appear as though we haven't seen as many birthdays as we have. Anti-aging creams, facial peels, Botox injections, and surgical lifts and tucks are just a few of the ways both men and women try to stem the tide of the aging process.
But what if you could achieve the same effect with a few simple exercises that you perform in your bathroom mirror each morning as you brush your teeth? Facial yoga promises to bring the same benefits — reduced tension and strengthened muscle tone — that regular yoga and other exercises bring to the rest of your body.
Recently, a group of women aged 40 to 65 years old participated in a clinical study. They were taught 32 different facial exercises (each lasting for one minute) that they could do at home. For eight weeks, they performed the exercises daily. After that, they continued the routine every other day for an additional 12 weeks. The results of the trial revealed fuller cheeks and firmer, more toned facial skin.
How do you exercise your face?
The idea behind face yoga is that by performing specific exercises, you can sculpt and tone the muscles in your face to reduce the signs of aging, such as wrinkles, under eye circles and sagging skin. How do you do it? If you're lucky enough to live in cities like London or L.A., you can stop in at brick-and-mortar "face gyms" where trainers can teach you how to stretch and pull on your face to tighten those trouble spots.
For the rest of us, there's the internet, which offers a deluge of information and video tutorials that can guide you through the process. Like this one:
Is there a downside?
According to Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, a cosmetic facial plastic surgeon, "the earlier you start face yoga, the earlier you'll get wrinkles," Spiegel noted, adding, "you don't get wrinkles from loss of elasticity in your muscles; you get wrinkles in your skin. And repetitive movement creates creases in the skin. It's like folding a piece of paper."
One caveat is that if certain exercises — such as the one in which you learn how to relax the muscles around your eyes while smiling — help you reduce the overall tension in your face, then that can help to improve skin tone and minimize wrinkles. It's no secret that stress in the form of furrowed brows and clenched jaws can exacerbate the aging process. So any exercise that helps you relieve stress and learn how to relax your muscles can help to reduce wrinkles.
Bottom line: If you're hoping to reduce your wrinkles, look for facial yoga exercises that focus on relaxing the various muscles of your face and skip those that require you to scrunch or stretch out your skin in any way.
Another option is to simply embrace those wrinkles for what they are. Because if reducing the signs of aging means learning how to smile without using my eyes so as to prevent crows feet, I say bring on those wrinkles. When I smile, it's because I'm happy. And if the whole world can see the evidence of all of that happiness, it's just fine by me.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in August 2017.