If your body is out of shape you exercise, so why don’t you do the same for your face? Regularly working your facial muscles can give you a natural facelift, say proponents. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Louise Redknapp are all said to be devotees of facial fitness.
Facial exercises, also called face yoga, are promoted as a risk-free, non-invasive alternative to fillers and anti-wrinkle treatments such as Botox. UK face yoga expert (yes, there is such a thing) Danielle Collins says exercising and massaging the 57 muscles in the face is a natural way to look younger.
“Face yoga is useful if you want to reduce signs of ageing and tension, whether you are starting to see the first signs of ageing or if you have deep-set lines and wrinkles,” she says.
Danielle advises two ten-minute sessions of facial exercises six days a week. She says the benefits include reducing lines and wrinkles, lifting, firming and a healthy glow.
Claims to make you look younger
“In the UK, facial exercises seem to be very much in vogue,” says consultant plastic surgeon Paul Banwell, spokesperson for The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). But he sounds a caution over claims it can make you look younger.
His view is that while exercise, including facial exercise, in association with a healthy diet and lifestyle can make you look and feel good, it is “debatable whether these exercises can actually make you look younger.”
Toning the muscle can’t remove a wrinkle, change the structure of the face or replace loss of volume caused by a decrease in collagen and elastin production. There are not yet any clinical trials into how effective these exercises are at lifting and tightening the face.
Facial fitness trend in Asia
Nevertheless, there are certainly plenty of people who feel they do work. And facial fitness is popular in Asia, where many beauty trends originate, with a variety of gadgets on the market there. In Japan a face exerciser called the Facial Fitness Pao – endorsed by Christiano Ronaldo, no less – even promises to give your smile a workout. (In the UK you can buy it for a rather hefty £204 on Amazon.)
Face fitness expert Eva Fraser, who is 86, swears by the exercises. She didn’t start doing them until after she was 50 and today looks at least 20 years younger than her age.
Eva says that some of the clients who come to her facial fitness centre in London have tried other treatments, mainly Botox, but “gave it up after a few months knowing it did not feel right”.
She says: “The main thing to know is that it’s not a magic wand. You need to work out in front of a mirror three or four times a week for 15 to 20 minutes. After three to four months you should be very pleased.”
Danielle Collins’ top two facial exercises
Reduce lines and wrinkles around the eyes
Put both your middle fingers together between your eyebrows then apply pressure to the outer corners of your eyes with your index fingers. Look up and start to move the lower eyelids upwards, making a strong squint. Then relax and repeat six more times. To finish squeeze your eyes shut for ten seconds then relax.
Reduce lines around the mouth and lift and firm the cheeks and jaw
Hide your teeth with your lips and make an O shape with the mouth. Then smile as wide as you can but keep hiding the teeth. Repeat six times.
Next, hold the smile shape and place one index finger on the chin. Then move your jaw up and down as you tilt your head back. Relax and repeat twice more.
Eva Fraser’s top two facial exercises
Basic face lift exercise
With back teeth lightly closed together, place side of index fingers lightly along laughter lines. Slowly lift upper cheek muscles in six steps, like going up a very steep ladder. Hold for a count of six. Return slowly in six steps. Repeat. Keep eyes relaxed.
To lift the lower face
With pads of fingers, stroke down the length of your neck, then hold firmly on to your collarbone. Stretching your chin slightly forward and up, slide your lower lip up over your top lip. The front of your neck should feel taut. Gently grip your top lip with your lower teeth — only if possible and without strain. Now slowly smile towards tops of ears, and at the same time feel a lift at the jawline in the same direction — upwards and backwards. Hold for a count of ten. Relax. Repeat.