Wait — please don’t get botox! Yes, there are plenty of anti-aging products and treatments out there, from creams to oils, not to mention health supplements. There’s even a product out there that promises to electrocute your face to prevent aging. Shocking, right?
Most, if not all, of these treatments have pretty questionable track records. After all, aging is inevitable. However, if you’re not happy with wrinkles, you might not need any products at all. That’s according to advocates of facial exercises, or face yoga. The premise is simple: exercise is widely considered one of the best ways to keep most signs of aging at bay, so why can’t it help prevent facial aging?
Exercise your face muscles for better skin
It makes sense, though the science is far from settled. Facial exercises have plenty of critics, who argue the practice might actually make things worse. For the most part, this is because the exercises can stretch the skin, and stretched skin causes wrinkles.
On the other hand, a recent study by JAMA Dermatology found the exact opposite. “Physical manifestations of facial aging are now understood to include not only skin laxity and superficial photodamage but also deeper substructural volume loss of fat and muscle,” researchers explained.
In other words, the secret to a young-looking face might be more than skin deep, with researchers arguing the muscle and fat below might be just as important in terms of appearance.
As for the study itself, the results appeared to show regular face exercises might be able to shave as much as three years off your facial appearance. In particular, researchers reported noticeable improvements in the cheeks, though other areas like the neck seemed impervious to the exercises.
Overall though, the results were promising, according to lead researcher and vice chairman of dermatology at Northwestern University, Dr. Murad Alam. “The improvement was actually greater than I had expected,” he told The New York Times.
If you’re keen to try facial exercises for yourself, we’ve listed a few of the more popular ones here. We’d love to hear if they work for you.
1. Forehead exercises
The forehead is one of those places where wrinkles just seem to crop up no matter what. To reduce these long lines, facial exercise advocates say you should exercise those head muscles by widening then shutting your eyes. The trick is to widen your eyes as much as possible, and hold until they start watering. Then, relax. Rinse and repeat. The idea is that by opening your eyes up, you’re reversing years of scowls and cranky looks.
2. Crow’s feet exercise
This one is a little harder to pull off, but isn’t so hard once you get the hang of it. First, gently hold down the farthest sides of the crow’s feet by putting a fingertip somewhere just in front of each temple. Now, here comes the hard part: blink with your lower eyelids. This exercise is intended to reduce the crow’s feet by doing the opposite of that one action you do every day: blink. As for the eyes themselves, ever tried eye yoga?
3. The bullfrog
Next is the cheeks. First, take a deep breath. Hold and shuffle the breath from one cheek to the other, puffing them out like a bullfrog. Yes, you’ll look hilarious, but the aim of this exercise is to strengthen those cheeks. With any luck, you’ll end up with more body to your cheeks. Advocates of this one say it imitates the action of playing a wind instrument — and when was the last time you saw a saxophone player with hollow cheeks?
4. The neck stretcher
As noted earlier, the neck is the hardest place to improve, but practitioners of the next exercise say it’s totally possible. For this one, swallow while smiling at the ceiling. The tip of your tongue should be against the roof of your mouth, and your head back with your neck stretched out.
5. The Nirvana look
Finally, let’s finish with something easy. For this last exercise, just relax, close your eyes and smile ever-so-slightly. All the while, try to imagine striking the Buddha expression — that is, a serene, peaceful look where most of your facial muscles are relaxed. The aim here is to reverse years of grimaces, pursed lips and scowls. In particular, it’s supposed to help with wrinkles around the mouth.
So that’s all for now. Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you found any of these exercises helpful, or if you know some of your own that work wonders.
— Ryan Mallett-Outtrim