We all know that it’s important to stay physically active to hold back the ravages of old age, but should your exercise regimen involve yoga for your face? If the results of one new study are to be believed, facial yoga may be the next big beauty and fitness fad.
A trial carried out by researchers at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago involved 27 women aged 40-65. The women took part in a 20-week program designed to exercise facial muscles. At the end of the program, dermatologists were given unmarked before and after photos and asked to assess the appearance of the women.
The verdict? After these cheek push-ups and eye-bag removers, the dermatologists assessed the women as looking, on average, three years younger.
The benefits of facial yoga
Specifically, the dermatologists noted improvements in the women’s upper and lower cheek fullness. The women also reported being more satisfied with their appearance at the end of the study. Of the 27 women who signed up for the study, only 16 completed the program. Of these, 69% were white, 12% were black, and 12% were Hispanic or Latino.
Unlike botox, surgical face-lifts, and dermal fillers, facial yoga has the advantages of being drug-free, non-invasive, inexpensive, and accessible.
What is facial yoga, and how does it help?
Gary Sikorski of Happy Face Yoga provided two initial muscle resistance training sessions, each lasting 90-minutes. Each subsequent facial toning session lasted half an hour and consisted of 32 facial yoga exercises. The women did these exercises daily for 8 weeks. This was followed by 12 weeks of exercises on alternate days (plus practice at home).
The exercises were designed to strengthen and enlarge facial muscles. The idea here is that the exercises help to tone the face and reduce visible signs of aging.
Age-related changes to appearance are usually blamed on photodamage and skin laxity. These changes in the face include sagging due to a loss of collagen and elastin. Loss of fat and muscle also contributes to an aged appearance, however. This is why fatty fillers are sometimes used to plump up skin and restore a more youthful, natural, appearance.
By exercising the muscles in the face, yoga may enhance facial structure. Regular exercise encourages better circulation, which, in turn, helps improve hydration and nutrient delivery, as well as the removal of metabolic waste products. This may also be true for the tissues in the face. As such, facial exercises could enhance the health and appearance of the skin.
The results from this research are, of course, preliminary. Further investigation through peer-reviewed studies is necessary. However, given that there are no apparent downsides to yoga for your face, there seems little reason not to include facial yoga in your regular beauty routine.
Check out this post for nine simple facial yoga exercises to get you started!
Alam M, Walter AJ, Geisler A, Roongpisuthipong W, Sikorski G, Tung R, Poon E. Association of Facial Exercise With the Appearance of Aging. JAMA Dermatol. Published online January 03, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29299598