Let’s Ask the Experts: Do Face Exercises Really Work?

If strength-building exercises for muscles bring about a toned body, does that mean exercises for stronger face muscles bring about a toned face?—can the same really be said for facial exercises? After all, shouldn’t working out your face muscles give you similar tone and definition like working out any other muscle?

It’s an interesting question which does not have a clear-cut answer, but clinical studies have gotten closer and closer to resolving this debate once and for all. Do face exercises and face yoga really work? Well, yes-ish.

The reality is that your face muscles are nothing like the other muscles in your body. Rather than be attached to the bone, your face muscles are attached to the skin. They’re thus more mendable, but this does not mean they can’t have more definition. In fact (and here’s the good news), because your facial muscles are attached to your skin, working out these muscles can bring more oxygenated blood into your face giving you youthful flush and vibrancy.

That being said, being overly-ambitious with facial exercises can leave you with sagging skin. This is because your face will just get tired from all the work it’s doing. That’s no good either, but the same can be said for working out too much of any muscle: too much “muscle definition” and it starts to look unseemly. And with the face, your muscles are far more delicate so you need to use some caution.

So, do facial exercises produce real results? Can they make you look younger and give your appearance definition? Let’s look at the facts.

Do Face Exercises Work?

What the Medical Experts Say

Opinions on face exercises (sometimes called “face yoga”) among experts are divided, but not in the way you might think. Everyone agrees there are definite ways to tone and slim your face. The disagreements are mainly over which are the most effective methods.

  • Skincare expert Julie Lindh swears by face exercises. She considers “working out” facial muscles similar to working out any other muscle. Basically, the more you do it, the tighter they get, the better you look This translates to a naturally toned face.
  • Dr. Jessica Wu, a dermatologist with a private practice in L.A., also tells her clients that stretching and “exercising” your face leads to greater blood circulation. Especially in those areas leading to smoother skin. Rosy, youthful cheeks come from antioxidants rising to the surface of your skin. And this is one of the many effects of greater blood circulation in your face.

Other doctors, however, are not so sure. Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel of Boston University School of Medicine calls the entire practice “completely bogus.” For him, the only way to get a better-toned face is to visit a facial plastic surgeon. However, he may be a little overly harsh. After all, it may be true that overworking your facial muscles can lead to overall sagging and be detrimental to your appearance. But to discredit an entire field? I think Dr. Spiegel may be in the wrong here.

However, luckily, we don’t need to rely on individual testimonials and opinions. There are many clinical studies on facial exercises. And the results are pretty shockingly… good?

Clinical Studies (What’s Most Important)

It’s no secret that most anti-aging remedies are total bunk. Not only are they often overly-expensive, but there just simply has not been enough studies to verify most of them. Face exercises, however, have been consistently subject to clinical studies. And the majority of them have reported real, beautifying effects.

  • A 2018 study conducted at Northwestern concluded face yoga and/or exercises can indeed lift the cheeks and create a more youthful appearance. The lead researcher of the study, Murad Alam documented participants—middle-aged women aged 40 to 65—having more youthful, toned faces in just 20 weeks. They, on average, looked three years younger. The results of the study was a confirmation of a similar study at Northwestern in 2012. Like the 2018 study, this which also yielded the same positive conclusion.
  • In another study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, fifty females were chosen to use the PAO facial fitness device for 30 seconds at a time, twice a day for 8 weeks. The changes to the cross-sectional areas of the zygomaticus minor and major muscles (located primarily in the cheekbone area) were found to be statistically significant by the end of the study. The study concluded that facial exercises “using the Pao device can increase facial muscle thickness and cross-sectional area, thus contributing to facial rejuvenation.”
  • A comprehensive 2014 review published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research concluded that “muscle conditioning, training and strengthening through daily exercises will help counterbalance the aging effects.”

More Clinical Studies!

  • A 2016 study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment linked facial exercises with greater elasticity of the skin on the face and neck. All of which contribute to reducing the appearance of aging.
  • Another important study, titled “The Effectiveness of Facial Exercises for Facial Rejuvenation: A Systematic Review,” was published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal in 2014. In the study, nine reports were looked at to determine whether facial exercises and rejuvenation techniques had a credible basis. The results, however, were nonetheless inconclusive but for all the wrong reasons. “Although positive outcomes were achieved in all 9 studies, none of the studies used a control group and randomization process,” the report read.
  • Facial exercises have also been linked to improved mood. For example, a 2018 study conducted in Japan and published in Nihon Ronen Igakkai Zasshi found that “facial exercises are effective in improving the mental health, facial expression, tongue muscle power of elderly people, and that exercises may be useful as a therapeutic modality.”

Practically every controlled clinical study we found on face exercises seemed to show that the practice had significant promise. It works.

The Verdict: Do Face Exercises Work?

The clinical studies mentioned above mainly studied women and changes to their face shape. However, regardless of sex, face exercises seem to produce real results over the course of just 8 weeks.

Although the medical community is split on the long-term impact of facial exercises, there seems to be sizable proof in clinical studies that these methods do lead to a noticeable difference in the tone and youthfulness of faces. That’s why recently there’s been so many celebrities who have been swearing by face fitness as a way to stay young.

It should also be noted that facial exercises for men and women differ greatly, however. Women, for example, are looking for higher cheekbones, tone, and a more youthful look. Men, on the other hand, are also looking for higher cheekbones. That being the case, however, their exercises should focus more on getting that chiseled jawline. Both genders can use facial exercises to get rid of chubby cheeks and that dreaded double chin. Keep this in mind before you begin your facial exercise regiment.

For more information on face exercises and how to best begin, please read our Comprehensive Guide to Face Exercises.

Have facial exercises worked for you personally? Did you use any exercise equipment for better results? Let us know in the comments.

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