Can Face Yoga Make You Look Younger?
As we age, our skin is at the mercy of many forces, such as too much time in the sun, harsh weather, neglect, and bad eating habits. There are other factors involved as well that contribute to sagging, wrinkling, and loss of skin tone, like the loss of subcutaneous support, gravity, stress, obesity, daily facial movements, and even your sleep position!
Facial treatments to combat age
The most common treatments for the aging face are the use of topical agents such as moisturizers and sunscreens, as well as specialized treatments like Retin A and alpha hydroxy acids. More invasive treatments at the hands of dermatologists include chemical peels, Botox, soft tissue augmentation, and dermabrasion.
In fact, according to an American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) study, the fifth most common non-surgical procedure being performed in the US is the injection of hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers, and the number one procedure is the injection of botulinum toxin, type A (Botox).1
The good news is that there is a better, non-invasive method of recapturing the look of facial youth to help our skin stay fresh-looking and supple: face yoga
What is face yoga?
Face yoga, or facial yoga, is a set of specific facial and breathing exercises in combination with massage that works out your face just like you work out your body. It’s no surprise that many celebrities such as Meghan Markle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen, Madonna, and Jennifer Aniston have all turned to face yoga to turn back the clock.
Face yoga promises to do for your face what yoga does for your body: tone and relax your facial muscles. Generally credited as being the creator of The Face Yoga Method, Fumiko Takatsu has been practicing facial yoga for about 15 years and has written 6 books on the topic.
Can face yoga make you look younger?
Yes! A Northwestern Medicine study found that a 30-minute daily or every-other-day facial exercise program practiced for 20 weeks improved the facial appearance of women 40 to 65 years old. The study involved performing the exercises and then being rated by dermatologists. The exercises resulted in a younger appearance, with the greatest improvement being fuller upper and lower cheeks. The dermatologists also estimated average patient age at several points during the study and found that it decreased.2
In addition to this study, many yoga instructors have seen the benefits of face yoga firsthand. Annelise Hagen, author of “The Yoga Face: Eliminate Wrinkles with the Ultimate Natural Facelift,” has found face yoga to be a much better alternative to Botox for their clients. Rose Hong Tran, another yoga instructor, says that face yoga can not only train facial muscles to reduce worry lines, but also help people who have partial facial paralysis and other problems like crooked smiles.3
How long does it take to see results?
The Northwestern Medicine study found that the subjects experienced almost a 3-year decrease in their estimated age over the 20-week study. Within these 20 weeks, the dermatologists found that the upper and lower cheeks had regained a significant fullness as a result of the exercises. Additionally, they estimated that average subject age went from 50.8 at the beginning of the study, down to 49.6 after 8 weeks, and then even lower, to 48.1 after 20 weeks.
While significant results were seen 8 weeks into the study, people often notice changes in their facial appearance even quicker. For example, one of Annelise Hagen’s clients saw a significant difference around her eyes and forehead after just one month of facial yoga classes. To get results more quickly, it is recommended that you perform yoga facial exercises at least 3 to 5 times per week for at least 20 minutes per session.4
The benefits of face yoga
One of the most obvious benefits of face yoga over surgical procedures or invasive procedures is the cost. You can do the exercises for free on your own, or take a class that is relatively cheap.
Another perk is that you can do the exercises practically anywhere—in the car, on your break at work, in front of the TV, even in the bathtub while enjoying a relaxing soak—the only requirement is clean hands.
In addition to being a much cheaper option compared to Botox or other procedures, face yoga offers numerous benefits for your health, including:
- Clarity of skin
- Improved skin tone
- Improved complexion
- Relaxed face and body
- Better circulation
- Plumper lips
- Firmer face
- Higher, more defined cheeks
- Less droopy eyelids
- Bigger, more wide-open eyes
- More symmetrical facial features
- More control of muscles used for singing and speech
- Self-control over facial movements
- Self-confidence and empowerment from personally doing the work to get the results
Beginner face yoga exercises
More and more instructors are offering face yoga classes. But you can get started on your own right now by following the facial exercises below! These exercises were developed by Gary Sikorski of Happy Face Yoga, who is a coauthor on the Northwestern Medicine study. During your sessions, make sure to spread the exercises out, and take a few deep breaths between each one to let your face relax:
Wake Your Face Up – Curl your tongue up toward your tonsils as far as it will go. Breathe evenly for the count of 10. While this exercise may seem strange at first, it will help your body, especially your facial muscles, become alert, making this exercise a good one to start off with.
Cheek Lifter –Push Away Fine Lines – Place your thumb and forefinger from each hand touching each other between your eyebrows. Use your thumb and forefinger to push your eyebrows up and away from each other. Use a smooth movement and push in the opposite direction your eyebrows go when squinting or frowning. Use a few drops of lubricating lotion or oil to eliminate dragging the skin.
Goodbye Crow’s Feet – Apply a thin layer of moisturizer or oil to the area under your eyes, on your temples, and at the outside corners of your eyes. Place your forefingers on each temple and with your thumbs at the top of your cheekbone, gently press the area under the skin outward from the corner of your eye. Remember not to pull the skin.
The Happy Cheeks Sculpting – Without showing your teeth, make the biggest smile you can. Purse your lips together and smile again, forcing your cheek muscles up. Then place your fingers upward on the corners of your mouth and glide them to the top of your cheeks, holding for 20 seconds.
Eyelid Rejuvenation – Look upward toward the top of your forehead. You won’t actually be able to see it, but it will help get your eyes in the right position. Now raise your eyebrows. While still looking up with your eyebrows raised, slowly close your eyes.
Fish Face – To reduce laugh lines, do this exercise in front of a mirror. Suck in your cheeks and pucker your lips, making a “fish face.” Keep your eyes wide open and your eyebrows raised. Hold as long as possible. When your eyes start to water, blink and release the pose.
Puffer Fish – For jowl defining, place two fingers on your lips to help hold the air in, and fill your cheeks with air. Inhale enough air to make your cheeks puff out completely. Hold for a few seconds until you feel a burning sensation, then softly release the pose while exhaling.
Face Yoga Face-lift –Place your thumbs firmly under your chin and the index and middle finger from each hand under your lower lip. Move your fingers upward toward your ears using a firm, sweeping motion along your cheekbone. Stop when your thumbs meet the dip behind your ears where the bony part of your skull hits your jawbone. Apply even pressure on that point for about 30 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times.
1. Gold, M.H. “Use of hyaluronic acid fillers for the treatment of the aging face.” Clinical Interventions in Aging 2, no. 3 (2007): 369-376.
2. Alam, M., A.J. Walter, A. Geisler, et al. “Association of Facial Exercise With the Appearance of Aging.” JAMA Dermatology 154, no. 3 (2018): 365-367.
3. Stinchfield, Kate. “Skip the Botox. Try Facial Yoga.” Annelise Hagen. Yogaface.net.
4. “How to Tone Your Face with Facial Exercises.” Beiersdorf. Nivea.co.uk.