The Comprehensive Guide to Face Exercises

We are all sad to see our youthful features diminish over time. Wrinkles, sagging skin, the loss of the vibrancy our appearance used to have—it’s all so depressing. Some of us go through endless turmoil with cosmetic solutions, and some even take the torturous steps toward plastic surgery (please don’t do this, there are far better options). Yet, with just a little effort, you can retain your skin’s glow and relive all those years you felt you lost. I’ve spent over 10 years following a face exercise routine and after peering over the studies, and seeing the proven effects in my own life, I can definitely say it works. Face slimming exercises are the best way to achieve a nonsurgical facelift.

Although a growing number of both men and women have been delving into face fitness routines, I was struggling to find an exhaustive guide on the topic. Most articles on the topic seem to be short, 2-minute reads with little actual content. This is why I decided to write this exhaustive guide.

What Even Are Face Exercises?

Facial exercises are a hot beauty trend that have received significant publicity lately. A type of cosmetic procedure that relies on physical therapy, facial exercises work by lifting the contours of your face by increasing muscle tone. Think of it like any other fitness routine, but for your face. Face exercises do not reduce fat in your face. Instead, they strengthen your facial muscles.

Advocates argue that face exercises rejuvenate one’s face by reducing and/or eliminating wrinkles, sagging jowls, double-chins, and other marks or blemishes by tightening the face and making it more compact. Studies have, in fact, repeatedly shown that face slimming exercises produce desirable results: not only do they tone your face, but they also on average make you look three years younger. This was demonstrated by a recent study conducted at Northwestern University, as reported by the New York Times.

Face exercises are effective for adults of all ages, men or women, and only takes around 5 minutes every morning. All you have to do is follow an exercise regimen which covers your problem areas—however, before we get to that, we have to first break down all the evidence for all your naysayers out there.

The Evidence: Do Face Exercises Work?

Medical Opinions

Despite the growing positive evidence, there’s sadly far too much clickbait-y content out there and little to no information on what face exercises are actually about. For example, what’s the evidence behind them? Which ones even work? These are the questions people are really searching for when they’re first learning about face exercises.

The truth is, clinical practitioners, doctors, and physical trainers all seem to agree that there are definitive ways to tone your face and achieve a facelift without surgery. The opinions on the effectiveness rate of facial exercises, however, is still up for debate, especially regarding which method is most successful.

For example, New York dermatologist Doris Day, M.D. made the case to SELF magazine that facial exercises do definitely work, but you have to be smart about which ones you choose. “As people age, they have very bad facial posture—they tend to furrow brows, purse lips, and kind of implode on themselves,” she said. By strengthening your facial muscles, you are pulling your face upward and effectively giving yourself a natural, nonsurgical facelift.

Dr. Jessica Wu, a dermatologist with a private practice in L.A., tells her clients that the reason facial exercises leads to smoother skin is because by stretching and “exercising” your face you are allowing for greater blood circulation. It may also stimulate collagen production according to Jeremy Green, M.D., a Miami-based cosmetic dermatologist.

Case Studies

The most concrete evidence in favor of facial exercises, however, comes not from opinions, but from studies which speak for themselves.

  • In a 2018 study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, facial yoga and exercises monitored over a 20-week period in a sample of 16 participants found significant and noticeable changes in their faces: researchers noted “firmer skin, fuller upper and lower cheeks” along with a more youthful appearance overall. The participants were middle-aged women aged 40 to 65.
  • In 2014 the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research concluded in a study on facial exercises that “muscle conditioning, training and strengthening through daily exercises will help counterbalance the aging effects.”
  • Another 2014 study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, an overview was conducted which concluded that all nine outcomes produced positive results and noticeable “facial rejuvenation.”

This is just a few of the countless studies like these which have demonstrated that working out facial muscles does, in fact, produce a tighter, more youthful facial appearance when followed daily. At the minimum, they have some noticeable effect on how toned your face is.

We compiled all of these expert opinions and many more clinical studies in a post dedicated to the topic titled, “Do Face Exercises Really Work?” It’s worth a read.

Before and After Photos

Clinical studies are one thing, but seeing really is believing sometimes. That’s why we’ve compiled some before and after photos of face exercises so you can see for yourself.

Both images courtesy of HappyFaceYoga.com

The Science Behind It

Face slimming exercises are a mix of isometric and isotonic contraction like any other exercise routine. All of our muscles respond to increased usage by building more fibre within the muscle itself: over time, regular exercise creates more tone, definition, and a more compact shape for the muscle itself.

Therefore, one can easily extrapolate that the effects of facial exercises would be similar to the effects of regular exercise for any other muscle: exercising the face produces smaller, firmer, and more-compact facial muscles.

All the muscles in your face are connected to the layer of skin called the dermis which allows for chewing, talking and other facial movements. Better muscle tone can allow for this skin to be “lifted” thus allowing for more vibrancy. Additionally, consistent exercise of your facial muscles also increases the blood flow to your face. This leads to more collagen production (collagen is responsible for the connective tissues in your face), as well as increased vitamin absorption. Your immunity will also improve overall. Excess fluid in the tissues exits more quickly, reducing puffiness in the face. The end result is a healthier appearance.

Face exercises have produced results for people both old and young. Most of us don’t realize that underneath the skin lies a layer of fatty tissue called the subcutaneous layer: in time, this tissue diminishes with age. To slow down this process, face exercises prevent muscle loss in the face often associated with aging, thus giving a general youthfulness, definition, and vibrancy to one’s appearance.

The Benefits 

You should consider the many benefits of face exercises when deciding whether or not to incorporate it into your daily routine.

Facial fitness is also suitable for both men and women because frankly, everyone wants a tighter, more attractive face. Of course, men’s and women’s faces are sculpted differently, but face exercises will accentuate your best features regardless.

The benefits of face slimming exercises include:

  • Tightens and tones the entire face allowing for a more youthful, vibrant appearance
  • Effective treatment against muscle loss in the face often associated with aging
  • Increased blood flow to the face allowing for vibrancy to one’s appearance
  • Increased oxygenation to the dermis, the topmost layer of the skin
  • Reduces the appearance of wrinkles, laugh lines, or blemishes
  • Boosts collagen production in the face, crucial for cell formation and skin elasticity
  • Can reduce double-chins
  • Makes your skin glow by removing dead cells
  • Smoother and more-even skin (and fewer breakouts too)
  • Releases any tension in your face
  • A treatment option for those suffering from facial pain or a locked jaw

Best of all, face exercises are natural and non-invasive. Going under the knife for your face is scary and generally expensive. Face exercises are therefore a proven and safer alternative to plastic surgery.

However, please do note that overdoing face workouts can ruin the results you’re looking for. This can also be said for any other muscle: overworking and putting unnecessary strain will always work to your detriment. Given that your face has thinner skin than the rest of your body, you need to be precise and much more delicate with facial exercises than you would with other forms of exercise.

Do Face Exercises Cause Wrinkles?

Face exercises have been wrongly associated with causing wrinkles, but expert facialists say this actually occurs when they are done incorrectly.

If you contort the face and do not isolate muscle groups, you can very well worsen your wrinkles. Like any other exercise, there is a correct way to practice face fitness. The same can be said for incorrectly lifting bar weights with your back, which can cause serious back pain: however, nobody would say that lifting weights causes back pain. Instead, back pain is caused by poor posture when lifting.

The same applies to face exercises. This is why you need to be relaxed, focus on particular face muscle groups, and always do face exercises in the mirror.  Always be aware of your facial expressions and what problem areas you are targeting. This will ensure you are doing the exercises correctly.

Face yoga expert Fumiko Takatsu completely dispels this misconception in her video on the topic below.

Getting Ready for Face Exercises

Face exercises should be done from the comfort of your home or at a professional spa facialist. Always be sure to do them in front of a mirror to ensure you’re doing them correctly.

To start, you’re going to want to (of course) wash your face with warm water. Push your hair back so it’s completely out of your face. Maybe buy yourself a basic spa headband if you don’t have one already.

You now need to apply some face serum so that your skin is well-moisturized for your face exercise routine. This will also allow your skin to maximize the nutriments it absorbs during your beauty regimen.

If you have dry skin: Pick yourself up some argan oil, rosehip oil, vitamin E oil, or tea seed oil. All of these face oils will seep deep into your pores and make your skin more vibrant.

If you are prone to breakouts: you’re going to need some deep-cleansing serums. Rice water cleansing oil is very effective against acne and breakouts. This deep cleansing oil by DHC made of olive fruit, rosemary leaf, and vitamin E also does the trick.

If you have oily skin: you need serums with less oil content. Peter Thomas Roth Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizer is our pick for being a fast-absorbing lotion gel that doesn’t block your pores.

Apply the serum you have in circular motions on your entire face. You can be quite thorough with it and cover each area a few times.

After having applied the serum to your entire face, you should feel fresher already. Now it’s time to start face exercising.

The Many Different Kinds of Facial Exercises

So whether man or woman, old or young, face exercises can give your entire appearance a lift without surgery and help to maintain your beauty for decades to come.

Facial exercises have a longstanding history with some techniques dating back to over 2,000 years ago to the Imperial Court in China. These methods are still present in Chinese popular culture to this day but are just one example of how far back facial exercises go back in history.

However, modern facial slimming exercises entered the popular culture through books like Face Lifting By Exercise by Senta Maria Runge, published in the 1960s, along with the works of Jack LaLanne, the famous fitness expert often referred to as the “godfather of fitness.” Face Lifting By Exercise is currently in its 12th edition as of 2013 and has spawned a whole subgenre of facial exercises with a dedicated fan base that has repeatedly spoken of their proven successes with the program.

Today, facial exercises can be broken down into a few subcategories. Each of them has different techniques for toning the face. These include general facial exercises, yoga, and pilates. There are also spa-based facial massages that have been proven to be successful in tightening the face along with various devices that claim to produce the same result.

Our List of Proven Face Exercises to Try

Be honest, when you Google “Best Face Exercises,” is the content that comes up actually useful? There are far too many “Best Face Exercises”-type articles online with all of them being virtually copies of each other and filled with the same silly techniques. Is there any evidence that any of these work? What people are looking for is not to dig through 20 different articles all saying the same thing with different illustrations and photos. It’s frustrating that proven face fitness routines are hard to come by online.

So, enough of the guesswork. I have compiled some facelift exercise routines that have been proven in clinical studies to produce results. These are the best face exercises which have been confirmed by studies as being effective and target so-called ‘problem areas.’ Do these in front of a mirror to ensure you’re getting them right.

Exercise 1: The Cheek Lifter

Source: Northwestern University study published in JAMA Dermatology (2018)

Gravity works to push your cheeks downward, but this exercise will spring them back up. This particular exercise works out your cheek muscles especially the Levator Labii Superiroris, Caninus, and Zygomaticus Major and Minor. It also gives your upper lip a boost.

  1. Open your mouth into an “O” shape.
  2. Wrap your upper lip over your front teeth.
  3. Smile to lift those cheeks up.
  4. Press your index fingers gently on the top part of your cheek while holding this position for 20 seconds (It helps to imagine you are pushing your cheek muscles towards your eyes like a “face push-up”).
  5. Release cheek muscles and relax.
  6. Repeat 5 times.

Exercise 2: Happy Cheeks Sculpting

Source: Northwestern University study published in JAMA Dermatology (2018)

This cheek exercise helps to accentuate the shape of your cheekbones and lift the middle part of your face.

  1. Begin by smiling without showing your teeth.
  2. Purse your lips together while smiling. Make sure to keep your teeth covered with your lips.
  3. Continue to smile forcing your cheek muscles upwards.
  4. Place your fingers at the corners of your mouth and move them upward towards the top of your cheeks.
  5. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Relax.
  6. Repeat 5 times.

Exercise 3: The Not-So-Smiley

Source: The Kyunghee Facial Resistance Program published in the Journal for Dermatological Treatment (2016)

This cheek exercise will workout your zygomaticus major muscle which is the muscle most responsible for smiling.

  1. Place your thumbs and index fingers at the corners of your mouth.
  2. Try to smile but force your fingers downward to prevent your smiley face.
  3. Your fingers should be the resistance thus preventing your smiling muscles from contracting.
  4. Look upward as you are doing this exercise and hold for 15 seconds.
  5. Relax. Repeat 3 times, twice daily.

Exercise 4: The Eyebrow Lifter

Source: Northwestern University study published in JAMA Dermatology (2018)

This particular exercise targets both the Occuli Palpebral and Levator Superioris, the muscles most responsible for opening and closing your eyes. The purpose is to smoothen the wrinkles on your upper eyelids give the entire upper-portion of your face a lift.

  1. Press three of your fingers from each hand on your eyebrows.
  2. Smile! But keep the downward pressure with your fingers to prevent your eyebrows from moving up. Hold for 15 seconds.
  3. Breathe deeply.
  4. Close your eyes and move your eyeballs upward as much as you can.
  5. Hold this position for 20 seconds.
  6. Relax. Repeat three times daily or every other day.

Exercise 5: Vowel Set

Source: Korean beauty Youtuber Wishtrend TV

This is a great face exercise for jowls and cheeks.

  1. Place your tongue against the roof of your mouth slightly behind your upper front teeth. Keep mouth closed.
  2. Press entire tongue onto the roof of your mouth, with pressure.
  3. Hum but do not open your mouth.
  4. Open your mouth while humming to release into an “O” sound.
  5. Close mouth, press tongue onto roof of mouth and hum.
  6. Open mouth and this time release into an “E” sound.
  7. Do this 15 times semi-consistently. Relax.

Exercise 6: The Smizer

Source: We actually came up with this one after bringing together multiple sources 🙂

This particular exercise gives your entire face a workout to boost collagen production. It’s a great face exercise for your jowls.

  1. Place both middle fingers together between eyebrows while applying pressure to the outer corners of your eyes with the index finger.
  2. Look up and move your eyebrows upwards to create pressure with your fingers.
  3. Move eyebrows like this, up and down, 6 times.
  4. Release pressure.
  5. Relax eyebrows and squeeze eyes shut for 15 seconds.
  6. Flutter your eyes to open them.
  7. Make an “O” shape with your mouth and hide your teeth with your lips.
  8. Smile as widely as you can. Repeat smile 6 times.
  9. Hold the 6th smile. Place index finger on chin and with very little pressure move upwards.
  10. Release your smile. Relax.
  11. Repeat 3 times daily.

Exercise 7: Face Cardio

Source: Another one of our own based on reports by Healthline and others.

This one involves a little bit of movement.

  1. Open your mouth as wide as you can and stick your tongue out for 10 seconds.
  2. Move your nose from side to side with the help of your cheek muscles (try your best). Do this 10 times.
  3. Lift your eyebrows and frown. Do this 10 times.
  4. Pout or pucker your lips and then smile. Repeat ten times.
  5. Relax. Repeat three times.

With these DIY face exercises, as confirmed repeatedly by studies we’ve researched, you can give your face definition in just a few weeks. Just stick to them daily.

Oh, and if you’re specifically looking for double chin face exercises, please read our dedicated article on the topic.


Face Yoga

Face Yoga

Face yoga is a comprehensive facial fitness program that incorporates the physical and the psychological. It’s perfect for a little bit of “me time” which you need right before you go to bed.

As you’d expect, there are many different methods to face exercises for yoga. They all have one thing in common, however: they train your face to build resistance to counteract aging and tighten the entirety of the face. In effect, face yoga sculpts and bulks your face from the inside out. By strengthening the muscles under your skin, you can achieve age-defying results and maintain your beauty.

Although face yoga is a type of exercise, it’s a category all on its own. This is because it is also a means of de-stressing, deeply tied to your mental well-being just like regular yoga is. You should always begin face yoga with a smile and end with a smile. And, of course, keeping track of your breathing is crucial. Always do face exercises and yoga with deep, repetitive breaths.

Our comprehensive mega-piece on face yoga is a must-read if you’re looking to delve into this world. In it, the evidence, the serums you need, face exercises for yoga, and various tutorials videos are all laid out for you so you can get started.

Personally, I’ve been an active face yoga-er for years now and it’s become a must before I sleep now.


Face Pilates

You may have already heard of the physical fitness system first developed by Joseph Pilates. “Pilates” as they’re called is all about “controlled movement.” Think of it like therapy and exercise combined. Your body, above all else, needs to be properly aligned in order for pilates to work.

Although pilates have found much success treating chronic ailments, they have recently experienced a resurgence with the emergence of “face pilate.” Although still a small category within face yoga, they are worth considering as an option to toning your face. You just might like it.

If you’re interested in trying out face pilates for yourself for a natural facelift, read our full guide A Natural Facelift: What Are Face Pilates? which discusses some exercises, serums to try, and other tips and tricks.


Face Exercises on Youtube

You might find it difficult to follow some of these exercises without some visualizations. Luckily, there are many videos on YouTube which provide ample instruction on how to do face exercises correctly.

One of our favorite face fitness youtubers and instructors is Fumiko Takatsu. She has developed her own “Face Yoga Method” which has been published in a best-selling book. In the below video, she shows you how to perform 5 face exercises to detox and tone your appearance.

Another video we would recommend is by YouTuber Parmita who has achieved definition in his stunning cheekbones through face exercises.

Ranjana Khan looks absolutely gorgeous at 57 years old which she credits to a daily face yoga routine. She tells us her secrets and face exercise routine in her video.

This next video by Khichi Beauty is another one of our favorites because she jumps right into face exercises. These exercises are perfect for sagging jowls, a droopy neck, and for tightening the entire lower half of your face.

There are so many more instructional videos online on face exercises, but these are just a few which stuck out to us. If you have any video recommendations, please do leave a comment below with your suggestions! We’d love to hear them.


Rollers, Face Massagers & Other Ways to Tone the Face

Toning your face doesn’t have to be all about face exercises. In fact, face exercises work best when coupled with tools which will even out your blemishes and allow for greater absorption when serums and face oils are used.

However, there are so many face rollers and massagers that you may not know where to start. Which ones work best for face exercises? Well, you have a few options. Be sure to read our expanded guide to face rollers, electronic face massagers, and everything in between for more information on each of these.

Jade Rollers

Currently one of the most popular face massagers on the market, jade rollers are made from one or two jade stone heads. The roller is manually applied to your face, rolling on the skin to boost blood circulation and reduce puffiness. They are commonly used as a daily beauty routine to relax both the body and mind. Plus, they look absolutely fantastic.

One of our favorites is the affordable GingerChi Jade Roller made from 100% authentic, grade AA jade.

Microneedle Derma Roller

Although needles might be scary to some, have no fear! The microneedle roller is made up of the tiniest of needles you won’t even feel. They are rolled on the skin, breaking away dry skin and boosting collagen production in your face. It’s an excellent way to prep your skin before skin treatments, serums, ampoules, and other forms of hydration. Your skin will feel elastic and you’ll see that glow you’ve been wanting even after first use.

We recommend the highly-rated Microneedle Derma Roller Kit for Face and Body by Angel Kiss made from titanium. Just be sure to use a moisturizing serum which contains hyaluronic acid after use.

Gold Bar Facial Massager

Similar to the jade roller, the gold bar also smoothens the face but uses vibrations. Operating at 6,000 beats per minute and powered by an AA battery, the vibrations generate negative ions which, when pressed against your skin, rejuvenate. Best of all, they can be used anywhere, from your face all the way down to your butt to smooth any loose skin.

Our pick? The Face Massager Rolling Kit by Jasclair. Simple in design and perfect for first-time users.

Ice Rollers

Cryptotherapy, also known as the “cold cure,” has many age-defying properties that have been used for centuries. Aside from being medically useful, applying ice to your skin also reduces stress and preserves skin health. Ice rollers are meant to be popped in the freezer and taken out before use to refresh your face with a cold sensation.

Ice rollers are best in the morning to reduce puffiness when you wake up. If you’re feeling a little hot, try cooling down with our pick the Skin Cool Ice Roller by Hansderma.

Electronic Brushes

Of course, we couldn’t include a list of face massagers without including electronic brushes. Now, face brushes come in two types: silicone and bristle. Bristle brushes are generally cheaper and do not provide a deep cleanse like silicone, but both are quite effective in their own right. They’re absolutely a must if you’re looking to detox, remove acne, and/or cleanse all of your pores.

If you’ve never used an electronic face brush before, the Facial Cleansing Brush by Olay is a good bang for your buck. Inexpensive, it will last you a long while. However, if you’re feeling luxurious, try the FOREO Luna 2 made from sonic-powered silicone brushes.  

We go into detail of the many benefits of using these tools, details on which best suit your beauty routine, and the process of using each in our full guide. Be sure to check it out! It has a little something in it for everyone.


Face Exercises In the Media

Cindy Crawford

More than just a few celebrities have expressed their belief that facial exercises demonstrably work. Cindy Crawford, for example, has touted face exercises as being responsible for maintaining her youthful appearance despite being in her 50s. Others, like Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex have incorporated face exercises into their daily routine. In an interview with Birdbox, the British royal said:

“I do facial exercises from one of my favourite aestheticians… you sculpt your face from the inside out. I swear it works, as silly as you may feel. On the days I do it, my cheekbones and jawline are way more sculpted.”

For a more complete list of celebrities who have publicly come out and said they personally believe in the power of face exercises, please read our article: The Celebrities Who Love Facial Exercises.

Face Exercises for Jowls

Face exercises are a comprehensive fitness option for giving your face a lift. However, some of us are just looking for a more defined jawline or a tighter chin. There are in fact specific face exercises for your jowls. Face exercises for jowls also target the chin and neck as well, so they can be called double chin exercises also.

Definition for your jawline best comes with two main strategies. Firstly, you should chew mastic gum daily for a few hours a day. Not only will this workout your masseter muscles, but you will feel your jaw tighten as a result. Secondly, there are multiple jawline exercisers and fitness tools currently available that target the many muscle groups in your face. Both of these are viable options for someone looking to give themselves a more defined, attractive look.

However, maintaining a jawline has as much to do with keeping a proper resting tongue position as face workout routines. This technique was first formulated by Dr. Mew and has been known as “mewing.” The method is simple: you balance the lower-half of your face by training yourself to unconsciously rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth instead of the floor. Mewing brings your entire profile forward, better aligned with your chest. Anyone interested in sharpening their jawline would be smart to incorporate the mewing technique into their jaw exercises. We have written quite a bit about mewing in a separate post.

For more information on specifically face exercises for jowls, please read our comprehensive guide on the subject.

Final Thoughts

This guide has been way too long, but there’s a lot to face exercises to go over! Each of the topics discussed here are further elaborated in detail on our many sub-articles so be sure to check them out.

Some final things to keep in mind with face exercises:

  • Losing fat in your face is, above all else, about proper diet and exercise for your whole body. Targeting certain muscle groups in your face only goes so far if the rest of your body is unhealthy.
  • Couple face exercises with rollers and massagers to allow for better moisturization and skin absorption.
  • Make a daily routine out of face exercises such as before you go to bed or when you wake up. Try to think of it like brushing your teeth.
  • Be patient! Face exercises need time to build up the collagen in your face and strengthen your muscles. Although some see results after just a week or two, you’re going to need to keep at it for well over 5 weeks to see noticeable, definite results.

The best part about face slimming exercises? They don’t take up too much of your time. For just a few minutes a day, you can increase the elasticity of your skin and give yourself a glowing appearance that will make everyone wonder what your secret is. So don’t be shy, spread the word and share this guide around.

Have you ever tried face exercises? What has worked for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here