In 2018, a study by Northwestern University (NWU) was widely reported for its beauty findings. The clinical trial concluded that face yoga makes one, on average, look three years younger. The story received a significant amount of buzz in the press, widely reported in media outlets like the New York Times, Huffington Post, NBC News, Wall Street Journal, ABC and the Harvard Health Blog. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Dermatology, one of the leading specialized medical publications, the Northwestern study was the first of its kind. Since then, face yoga has exploded in popularity. Even celebrities like Meghan Markle swear by it.
In this comprehensive guide, we’d like to dedicate some time to talking specifically about face yoga. Here’s everything you need to know about this relaxing, age-defying beauty routine—perfect for a little “me time” right before you got to bed, so you can sleep calmly and refreshed.
Table of Contents
What Is Face Yoga?
Yoga is a physical activity that often includes interconnected postures, breathing exercises and meditation. Practiced for stress relief, meditation, posture correction,
At its essence, face yoga physically trains your face to build resistance. Just like modern yoga helps to build your core and strength, face yoga is an extension of this same training for your face. Our face and neck, after all, consist of a collection of muscles covered by skin and fat. As we age, gravity works on these external layers and creates minor droops on our neck and face over time. These can happen to adults at any age, of course.
To counteract this aging effect, and tighten the face overall, face yoga builds resistance by making your face into a lifted platform as it sculpts and bulks your face muscles from the inside-out. By strengthening the muscles below the dermis with face yoga, you fight several other signs of aging like a turned-down mouth or narrow eyes. Anti-wrinkle beauty creams can’t do that. The result is a face and neck lift that is noticeable and natural, as clinical studies have shown.
Face yoga is more than a beauty routine, though. It’s also deeply psychological, with the relaxed poses intended to relax and calm your entire body. The end result is mindfulness, which is perfect for when you wake up or right before bed. Face yoga is a beauty routine that meets meditative
So, is it worth it to incorporate face yoga into your life? The answer is
Assessing the Evidence: Does Face Yoga Work?
Many studies have documented the real beauty results with face yoga and facial exercises.
As has been already mentioned, a 2018 study at Northwestern on face yoga demonstrated that the beauty practice produces visible results. In the clinical trial, twenty-seven female subjects between forty and sixty-five years old were made to do face yoga exercises every day for eight weeks, then every other day for the next twelve weeks. The faces of the participants were visibly smoother, tighter and plumper. The before and after face yoga photos speak for themselves.
Dr. Murad Alam, who led the NorthWestern study, told reporters: “Now there is finally some evidence that facial exercises may improve facial appearance and reduce some visible signs of aging.”
Aside from the Northwestern study, there have been others which came to similar conclusions.
- A major 2016 study by South Korean dermatologists studied the effects of the Kyunghee Facial Resistance Program (KFRP), a form of face yoga, on 16 women. The study was supported by multiple research institutions, like the National Research Foundation of Korea, and concluded that the skin became more elastic and firm as a result.
- A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research concluded that its ‘smile’ exercises helped to counter-balance aging effects.
- A 2014 literature review published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal surveyed nine clinical studies on face yoga. The study found that they all concluded it was effective. Yet, it should be noted that the review lacked a control group.
Face yoga has also been linked to boosted collagen production. Collagen is the protein responsible for replenishing connective tissues. According to Dr. Murad Alam, the vice-chair of dermatology at Northwestern University, face yoga means that“the body [can] lay down more collagen.” The end result is a more youthful glow.
Getting Ready for Face Yoga
When starting face yoga, you’re going to want to get into something comfortable like your bathrobe. Make sure you’re standing or sitting in front of a mirror. Before beginning, you need to moisturize your neck and face properly. This will relieve any tension in your face and allow for nutrients and moisture to deeply seep in.
Now it’s time to use the right moisturizer.
If You Have Dry Skin
You’re going to want to use face oils. There are many varieties, but we would personally recommend:
- Argan Oil: Just get the cheapest pure bottle of argan oil you can find. They’re mostly all the same anyway. Our Pick: Pura D’Or Pure Argan Oil.
- Rosehip Oil: Rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, this oil will regenerate your dry skin. Our Pick: Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil
- Vitamin E Oil: One of the most important nutrients for our skin, you can’t go wrong with Vitamin E especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. Our Pick: Vitamin E Oil by Kate Blanc Cosmetics
- Camellia / Tea Seed Oil: With a sweet herbal aroma, this natural cold-pressed face oil has been called a “miracle potion” for skin, nails, and hair. Perfect for face yoga. Our Pick: Amaki Japanese Tsubaki Anti-aging Face Oil.
If You’re Prone to Breakouts
You need to apply some cleansing oil before face yoga so you get the deep clean in your pores. These cleansers are also well-suited for removing any makeup on your face for a complete wash, as well. Remember to remove it thoroughly after face yoga!
- Deep Cleansing Oil by DHC: A product that has received rave reviews since it was first released, it is made of its own unique formula of olive fruit oil, rosemary leaf oil, and vitamin E. It’s an all-purpose cleansing oil that we can’t recommend highly enough.
- Natural Rice Water Cleansing Oil: Rice water is perfect as a face cleaner. Popularized in South Korea, it not only cleanses but also shrinks pores and lessens lines on the face.
- Badger Rose Cleansing Oil: This gentle and organic cleansing oil is one that really stuck out to us because of its olive and sunflower oil makeup. It also contains calendula which reduces irritation and redness. Your face will feel so tense-free and relaxed after applying.
If You Have Oily Skin
You’re going to want to use a lotion that is low on oils if you already have oily skin.
- Can’t go wrong with coconut-based products. One staple is the Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Facial Moisturizer.
- Made mostly without oils, Garnier SkinActive 3-1 Face Moisturizer is made from green tea. It works as both a moisturizer in the morning and a night cream before bed. We found it works well before your face yoga regimen.
- Peter Thomas Roth Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizer is another pick of ours that tops our list of recommendations. This fast-absorbing lotion gel will keep your skin hydrated (packed with antioxidant vitamins) without blocking your pores or leaving any stickiness. For those of us with oily skin, this might be just what you’ve been looking for.
Oh, and maybe pick yourself up a spa headband for your yoga. Just to keep your hair out of the way and so you have a full view of your face during your beauty routine.
How to Do Face Yoga: Our Favorite Self-Facial Techniques
Face yoga expressions may seem funny at first, but the methods are designed to stretch and strengthen your facial muscles. This inevitably involves making some ridiculous faces. But trust us, they’re a lot of fun.
It’s crucial to remember that the motions of yoga are about lifting and not drooping. You want that facelift, don’t you? Well, then focus on upward motions when doing face yoga. And always remember: begin your face yoga routine with a smile. Not only does it loosen your muscles, but it will relax you which is the first priority when doing yoga. You need to be relaxed.
After surveying clinical trials, these were some of the most effective face yoga techniques we found.
Target Area: Cheeks
By way of tightening the cheek muscles, this yoga technique will highlight your cheekbones and lift the center of your face.
- Without showing any teeth, make yourself smile by rolling the outer corners of your lips upwards. At the same time, pout and make it look like your trying to show off those kissers. As you smile, get to a point where you feel a slight tug on your mouth corners while your cheek muscles are all the way up.
- While still pouting, firmly press the corners of your mouth with your index finger. Then slide them up towards your cheekbones. In this case, it is OK to apply a little extra pressure on the muscle.
- While there is still pressure on the cheekbone muscle, move your fingertips outwards towards the corners of your eyes. When you feel the top segment of your cheekbone, press tightly.
- Hold 20 seconds. Keep smiling.
- Relax. Repeat 2-4 times.
Target Area: Full Face
Best done lying down to fully enable the flexibility of expressions.
- Open your mouth and make an “O” shape with your lips. Then, take in both your upper and lower lips and tuck them over your front teeth.
- Now smile by lifting the corners of your mouth.
- Place your pinkie finger on the corners of your eyes such that your other three fingers rest on your temples, creating a “V” shape.
- Pull your fingers up and outwards from the center of your face. Do not put too much pressure since your eyes are the most sensitive part of your face.
- Hold for 20 seconds.
- Repeat 2 times.
Another option for a full facelift involves a push-up of sorts, but for the cheeks.
- Open your mouth and make an “O” shape with your lips.
- Take your upper lip and fold it over your front teeth.
- Smile by lifting the cheeks up.
- Do repetitive “push-ups” by placing index finger at the top-center of the cheekbone while relaxing your smile, then smile again while the finger is still in place.
- Do this for 10 times.
- To end, take your index finger and slowly and move it upwards towards your eye corners then down towards your neck. This allows for blood rejuvenation and lymphatic drainage.
Target Area: Eyebrows
Try this exercise for a little face yoga for your eyes.
- At a horizontal angle, press three fingers above your eyebrows and slightly move them upwards.
- Stop smiling and create friction against the fingers by frowning.
- Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 4 times.
Target Area: Jaw
Face yoga works well for double chins. Focusing on the muscles located on the chin and around the jaw helps to strengthen sagging necklines. This is exercise is especially useful given that drooping necks are a common issue nowadays since we are generally on our phones or look at screens.
- Start by smiling
- Open your mouth. Say “AAAAAAAHHH”
- While you are doing this, tuck your upper and lower lip into your mouth. Firmly tighten your lips.
- Move your lower jaw forwards. Moving upwards, slowly close your mouth and relax your lips.
- Now tilt your head backward and repeat saying “AAAAHHH” while your lips are tucked and you are smiling.
- While your head is tilted, go between relaxing and tensing your face by saying “AAAHHH.”
- Do this for 10 seconds at a time.
- Calmly bring your neck back and repeat 2 times.
Target Area: Lower Half of Face
Another simple face yoga technique for the jaw involves the following steps. It is very similar to the corrective oral therapy technique called “mewing” which we have written about extensively in a dedicated article on the topic.
- Tilt your head towards the ceiling.
- While it is up, push your tongue towards the roof of your mouth.
- Hold 5 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
For an exhaustive explainer on face exercises, please read our comprehensive guide here.
Face Yoga Videos to Watch
Are you struggling to figure out if you’re doing face yoga right? Luckily, there is a treasure trove of information online to help you. Just like doing a workout incorrectly can cause injury, face yoga has to be done with care. It is, after all, a type of exercise. Below are some of the best, most trusted Youtubers which will teach you how to do face yoga the right way.
One of the leading face yoga and fitness specialists is Fumiko Takatsu who has many instructional videos on YouTube. In this video, she discusses a little bit about herself, some face yoga exercises, and the targeted muscles used. She is a specialist in what she has called the Face Yoga Method, with hundreds upon hundreds of certified instructors around the world.
The Uma Show covered face yoga in a detailed video of hers. She goes through many of the basics in an easy-to-follow demonstrated.
Below is a special two-minute facial massage by skincare expert Su-Man. This self-facial is meant to release tension and lifts your face from the inside-out.
Follow some of these videos for tips and tricks on how to correctly do face yoga for a glowing face.
Making It a Part of Your Daily Routine
Face yoga should only take around 5 minutes, and can easily be incorporated into your daily skin routine. This way, you can nourish the outside of your skin with product while using the practice to sculpt your face from the inside.
Face yoga should be as simple as brushing your teeth. Most importantly, you should view it as a means of de-stressing. Feel free to try out face yoga while on the computer, when you’re driving, right when you wake up, or when you have a spare moment. It’s easy.
Tips to Keep in Mind!
- Never rush any kind of yoga or you won’t feel its relaxing effects.
- Don’t add any strain where you don’t need it.
- Always do face yoga in front of a mirror.
- Be comfortable: wear something that makes you feel cozy.
- Begin you face yoga with a smile and always end it with a smile.
- Most importantly, always take deep breaths throughout.
More Information & Other Face Yoga Secrets
The world of face yoga is a vast sea of information and techniques. You can spend all day researching about it. However, this guide can serve as the bedrock to your beauty routine: and from here, we suggest you read further into face yoga and face exercises more generally. Alternatively, you can also have your try at a professional facialist and receive a spa-like face yoga cleanse.
For further information, one book we would like to suggest is “The Ultimate Guide to the Face Yoga Method” by Fumiko Takatsu who has been cited in many beauty and cosmetics magazines for her expertise in all things face yoga. She has also many videos online, one of which we mentioned in this article.
Face yoga works best when coupled with beauty products like face rollers, massagers, and other devices to allow for better absorption in your face. For more information on the tools needed to slim and tone your face, please read out exhaustive article on facial rollers, massagers, and everything in between.
Happy face yoga’ing!
Have you personally seen results with face yoga? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.