Did you know that there are nearly 60 different muscles working in your face at any given moment? They help you smile, frown, scowl, chew and make that humorous expression you only make when you’re putting on your mascara in the mirror.
But, over time, all of those muscles experience the same degradation that the rest of our muscles experience. And, while you can spend hours in the gym toning up your tummy or working out your rear, there isn't really any gym equipment that's made to address your facial muscles specifically.
Enter face yoga.
What is Face Yoga?
Face yoga is a DIY program that’s designed to work out all of those more-than-50 muscles in your face, neck and scalp, for a firmer, more contoured face, without any of the messy makeup, serums or other products from the cosmetics counter.
Studies have found that face yoga — if you spend the appropriate amount of time on facial exercises regularly — can improve your face’s appearance, both in terms of skin elasticity and muscle firmness and tone.
How much time is needed?
For the study linked above, the women, in order to see results, had to spend 30 minutes on face yoga per day for eight weeks, and then 30 minutes on face yoga every other day for 12 more weeks.
Other studies have required women to spend an additional 90 minutes on face yoga for the first two days that they began a face yoga regimen or to continue their regimen daily for the entire 20 weeks, with results most noticeable after five months. (Some say they even look a few years younger by keeping up the daily practice for this length of time!)
Are the Results Worth the Time Commitment?
If you think your face is going to be slimmer because you’re working out those facial muscles, think again. Face yoga is shown to actually increase the size of some of your facial muscles — particularly those in your cheeks. Rounder, fuller cheeks are the result of facial muscles increasing in size, just like any muscle you might work on in the gym.
While you might not automatically think that rounder, fuller cheeks are your ultimate goal, think about what those increased muscle sizes do for the rest of your skin. The larger size pulls your skin up and over, for more definition, less drooping and an overall younger appearance.
Lesley Reynolds, Co-Founder of The Harley Street Skin Clinic shares, “Since facial aging is in part due to muscle loss, exercise can strengthen these muscles if you can commit to a routine, making your face look stronger and more youthful It is a really natural solution for you to regain your young appearance and a good alternative to Botox and plastic surgery.”
As with most exercises, though, these results aren’t guaranteed. Other lifestyle factors come into play and impact your results, such as diet, fitness, sun and wind exposure and genetics.
Check out these face yoga moves from Brett Larkin, Online Yoga Instructor and Personal Trainer.
Who Should Do Face Yoga?
Anyone can do face yoga, but the practice mostly appeals to those individuals who are starting to see fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin that they’d like to eliminate, but who don’t quite want to take such drastic measures as injections, Botox or even just using chemical-laden skincare solutions.
Most studies that have proven face yoga’s effectiveness were conducted on women around the 40–65 age range. (In other words, your 90-year-old grandma might not be able to see big results from face yoga, but you or your mother might.)
Richard Jones, Founder of The Jawline, also shares more insight. Jones says, “One of the best things about Face Yoga is that you can do Face Yoga exercises while driving or working in front of your computer.”
Face yoga hasn’t really been shown to have any negative side effects, and it’s easy enough to enjoy on your own, though there are paid face yoga courses available.
17 Face Yoga Exercises You Can Try Now
Face yoga doesn’t require any special equipment, and it is easy to start doing right in your own home. While you may want to check out some of the YouTube videos dedicated to the practice for some visual aid, most practitioners find that face yoga is pretty straightforward and easy to learn without much guidance.
Just remember, much like regular yoga, don't forget about taking deep breaths when dedicating time to your face muscles.
1. The Cheeklifter
Open your mouth as wide as comfortably possible, and then bring your top lip down over your front teeth. Then, smile wide, lifting your cheek muscles.
Put a finger on top of each cheek, so that you can feel the muscles in action. Relax your face and then repeat the move 10 times, holding the position for 20 seconds on the tenth repetition.
2. The Forehead Smoother
Make two loose fists and place them in the middle of your forehead, touching. Apply pressure to your skin using the knuckles on your two middle fingers. Draw your fists apart until your knuckles are touching your temples, where you can apply as much pressure as is comfortable.
Repeat four times.
3. A Warm-Up
An easy face yoga exercise to begin with, this warm-up gets your muscles ready for more strenuous activity.
Using as much of your face as possible, blow large, loud raspberries, engaging your lips, cheeks, and more. Repeat three times. Not only will this warm up your muscles, but some find it also to be a great stress reliever.
4. The Jaw Stretch
Pucker your lips and move your mouth to one side of your face. You should feel your opposite cheek stretch out as far as it can go.
Lift your head 45 degrees and rotate your neck until you begin to feel the skin there stretch as well. Hold for three seconds.
Switch to the other side of your face and then repeat.
5. The Double Chin Buster
Relax your shoulders and neck (a good practice most of the time, even beyond face yoga, especially for those of us working long hours at a desk!).
Bring your chin up until it’s parallel with the ceiling. Then, purse your lips and hold for five seconds. Then, stick out your tongue and hold for another five seconds. Repeat three times, and do two sets.
You should feel like this takes some effort. If not, you may need to tilt your head back further.
6. The At-Home Face Lift
Lay your palms flat on either side of your forehead. Use your palms to gently pull your skin back toward the crown of your skull and away from your nose and mouth area.
Open your mouth, widening your jaw as much as possible. Hold for five seconds and repeat twice.
7. The Smile Line Smoother
Smile lines are an indicator of a happy life, but that doesn’t mean you have to like deep lines creasing your skin from mouth to nose.
Press your tongue against the inside of your cheek, up near the edge of your nostril. Try to apply pressure in the exact area or close to where your smile line starts (this exercise might be best done while looking in the mirror). Move your tongue in a small, circular pattern — five times clockwise and then five times counterclockwise. Then, switch to the opposite side of your face.
8. The Cheek Plumper
This one’s easy enough. Suck your cheeks in as hard as you can, for a fish lips look. Hold for 10 seconds for one set, and do five sets.
9. The Saggy Cheek Stopper
Purse your lips and then move your jaw as far as you can to one side of your face. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then switch to the other side. Do this up to five times.
10. The Eyelid Lifter
If you deal with crows feet and droopy eyelids, you might prefer this face yoga move.
Use your right hand to reach up and over your head, and touch your left temple with your right fingers. Your forearm should be resting on your scalp.
Touch the outside edge of your eyebrow with one finger, lift the skin as much as you can, and apply only gentle pressure with just that one finger. Then, stretch your neck toward your right shoulder as much as possible.
Hold the position for five seconds and then repeat the move on the other side.
11. The Crow's Feet Fighter
Bring your chin to your chest and open your mouth as wide as you can, bringing your lips over your teeth. At the same time, look up as far as you can, all while keeping your chin tucked downward. You want to move your eyes only.
If you’re looking in the mirror and doing the exercise correctly, you should see that all of the wrinkles around the edges of the eyes disappear.
Hold the position for three seconds.
12. The Face Firmer
Start by opening your mouth as wide as you can and pull your lips over your teeth. While still holding this position, try to smile. Then, place your palms on the apples of your cheeks and pull the skin taut.
Close your eyes and try to jut your chin out from your face as much as possible while keeping your mouth wide. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat three times.
13. Giraffe Neck
Face yoga doesn’t only help fight wrinkles and drooping in your face. It also addresses problem areas on your neck as well.
For the Giraffe Neck pose, place your fingers along your collarbone. Make a duck face and tilt your head back as far as comfortable. Then, switch from the duck face to sticking your chin out as far as possible. Hold for 10 seconds, and then drop your chin down to your chest.
14. The Eye Bag Buster
Using both your hands, place your index fingers on the outside edges of each of your eyebrows and your middle fingers on the inside edges of each of your eyebrows, forming “v’s” with your fingers.
Don’t move your head, but look up to the ceiling. Keep your eyes there, but squint, and hold the position for 10 seconds.
Repeat six times and finish by squeezing your eyes tightly shut for 10 seconds.
15. The Binoculars
Form “binoculars” around your eyes using your fingers, with your thumbs and pointer fingers pressed up to your face. Use your fingers in this position to lift your eyebrows manually, without any work on your forehead’s part.
Do this 50 times, then switch to squinting, just like you might normally do on a bright day, no special finger positions required. Squint 50 times as well.
16. The Pufferfish
Put one finger on your windpipe, the other on your closed lips. Puff up your cheeks, both at one time, and then puff one side and then the other. You should be able to feel the muscles in your neck working with each switch. Repeat 10 times.
17. The Wake-Up
This is another warm-up move that you might want to start your routine with.
Open your mouth wide and then use the tip of your tongue to reach as far back into your mouth as possible. Once your tongue is in position, hold it there for a few seconds and do your best to breathe normally.
A Different Approach?
Some people might try face yoga and find that they don’t enjoy the amount of time it takes or the patience required to learn all the moves, no matter how easy they are. Some of these individuals have found a different approach to facial muscle stimulation — facial massage.
While you can definitely go to a spa or specialist for facial massage, a lot of the same effects can be achieved at home with your hands or a face roller.
The big difference between facial massage and the face yoga method? While face yoga actively strengthens muscles and helps with elasticity, facial massage simply stimulates the muscles and provides that blood circulation and increases tone. Because of the differences, some prefer mixing the two for a blended approach towards an anti-aging routine.
Ready to Try Face Yoga for Yourself?
If you think facial yoga sounds like the easiest answer ever to your fine lines and wrinkles, give it a go and see how well this growing practice works for you.
Just remember — it can take months of consistent work to see results. The great thing is that once you have the moves down and memorized, you can do these face exercises anywhere, anytime, from during a daily routine to while you’re watching your favorite TV show.
You might also be interested in: Why You Should Adopt a 10-Step Skincare Routine Today