Let’s be honest, us guys spend just as much time obsessing over our looks as women do. We’ve all searched for just the right diet to shave off those layers of fat and expose our long-buried abs, or struggled to get our hair to look as cool as it did the moment we walked out of the salon.
(Here’s a hint: frantically hitting the gym at 5:00 on Friday won’t give you a ripped bod for the weekend’s club-tivities, not if you lay around on the couch eating chips the rest of the week.)
But there’s been a new front developing in the Men’s War of Appearances for a while now: Battleground Face. And a new weapon in the arsenal for lots of guys is face yoga.
Face yoga, as we’ll explain, is the logical extension of the thinking that a whole lot of us are starting to understand: in addition to taking care of diet and exercise for our bodies, our purty faces need tender, loving care as well.
After all, if your blind date can’t tell the difference between your face and her alligator skin bag, she probably won’t stick around long enough to see your abs or those spaghetti biceps, will she?
So if you’re struggling to figure out which lotions, potions, serums, and scrubs are going to give you perfect skin, consider adding face yoga as another line of attack against the depredations of age and environment.
Wait, what’s that now? What is face yoga?
Women’s publications have talked about the facial yoga regime for some time, but it’s only recently that it’s starting to come around in health and grooming circles that guys frequent.
No doubt you’ll be hearing more about it as time goes on, and with good reason too: that’s because it works.
But first, let’s take a closer look at what it actually is.
Face yoga is a set of techniques for ‘exercising’ the muscles in your face that has been embraced by health and beauty experts across the spectrum, including leading spas, skin care product manufacturers, and even medical experts.
There are even ‘face gyms‘ where you can book a facial workout and meet up via video chat (or in person, depending on where you are) with a doe-eyed model/expert who will take you through a specific routine – brow, cheeks, whatever.
Now, like any trending health or beauty-related craze, there are some snake oil salesmen types out there who appear to be more interested in separating the gullible from their money than in actually helping people with facial yoga.
One L.A.-based face yoga company offers 50-minute sessions for a mere $200. They’re also ready and willing to sell you oils and some dubious looking ‘tools’ designed to assist with your workout.
Don’t worry – all you really need is your ugly mug, a mirror, and a certain level of fearlessness for looking ridiculous if you live with other people. (Your dog is absolutely going to think you’re a weirdo if you leave them in the room for this.)
Below we’ll show you a few of the basic exercises, but first let’s make the case:
Does face yoga work?
The short answer is yes, there is some solid evidence that regularly performing facial exercises can help keep the face taut and slow the spread of wrinkles and sagging.
If you examine the science underlying the eventual drooping everyone’s face will have to face one day, (sorry) you learn that the reason for the sagging is deterioration of the muscles underneath.
Just as with muscles anywhere else on your body, if you neglect the muscles of your face, they’re bound to atrophy, which has consequences that show up in the skin that lives above those areas.
Also, just as you find when you work out any of the muscles in your body, doing so increases blood flow to the area.
Practitioners of face yoga say that for many people new to the practice, complexion is the first place they see improvement. The theory is that with increased blood circulation, you get a healthier, more lively and more vibrant complexion.
Another claim that is somewhat controversial yet still worthy of mention is that face yoga helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles you already have.
This is a little tough to swallow, since it’s the decline in production of collagen and elastin in the skin as we age that causes wrinkles. No amount of stretching your face like Jared Leto’s Joker is going to change that.
Facial yoga and science
However, peer-reviewed studies have been shown to support another idea related to reducing the appearance of wrinkles that have already settled in.
That theory says that by strengthening the muscles beneath the skin – getting buff in the face – we can inflate those muscles and help flatten out the wrinkles above, like re-inflating a volleyball.
Indeed, one 20-week, peer-reviewed study performed by dermatologists at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine looked at this very possibility: could a face yoga exercise program over time result in a visible difference in the facial skin of participants?
Turns out that the answer is yes.
In this study, a group of middle-aged women were placed on a 30-minutes per day, or 30-minutes per alternating day program of facial yoga exercises.
The results were that the women on the daily program showed a younger appearance with fuller upper and lower cheeks, and younger, firmer-looking skin over their entire faces at the end of the 20-week program.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Murad Alam, vice chair and professor of dermatology at Northwestern said that the study successfully showed that the exercises expand and strengthen the muscles of the face, resulting in a look that is ‘…firmer and more toned and shaped like a younger face.’
Face yoga method:
How often do you need to do face yoga?
According to experts, you should plan on making face yoga a part of your daily routine for 30 minutes every day.
And other practitioners of face yoga tend to agree with Dr. Alam’s timeline as outlined in the Northwestern study: to start seeing real results, you should stick to this program for at least four or five months.
Now, it’s important to note that starting up a face yoga routine doesn’t absolve you from the need to maintain your skin care routine. Be sure to load up on some products that contain probiotics for skin care, and enjoy the outdoors but only with sunscreen.
That said, you can only help yourself by trying out this routine for a few months and seeing what results you get!
Facial yoga exercises:
1. The cheek lifter
No, this isn’t an esoteric booty-shaking dance. It’s a face yoga exercise designed to strengthen the cheeks and the upper lip.
Open your mouth and form an “O,” then tuck your upper lip down and over your front teeth.
Smile and concentrate on lifting the cheek muscles upward.
Put your index fingers on the muscles on the top parts of your cheeks, just underneath your eyes. Now relax, allowing your cheeks to go back to their original position.
Now smile again and lift the cheek muscles upward. Imagine that your smile is pushing the muscles up toward your eyes. Call that one cheek-lifter “push-up.” Start with a set of 10.
2. The forehead smoother
Here, you’re going to train the muscles that stretch from above the eyebrows to the upper forehead. Better to do this than resort to botox to smooth out those pesky forehead lines.
Put your index and middle fingers across the top of your forehead just under the hairline. Press down firmly, then slowly push your fingers down across your forehead toward your eyebrows. As you do, flex your eyebrows sharply upward against the press of your fingers.
It’s important to maintain pressure as you raise your eyebrows up against the pressing of your fingers, which will result in a tight band of pressure across your brows.
Now hold that for 10 seconds before you release. A set will be repeating that three times, holding for 20 seconds on the final one.
3. Lower Eyelid Firmer
Here’s a face yoga exercise that’s designed to strengthen the upper and lower eyelids. You can even start to notice that the bags under your eyes will decrease over time, as blood circulation to the area increases.
Put your middle fingers near the corners of your eyes alongside the bridge of your nose. Now put your your index fingers on the outside corner of the eyes.
Focus on squinting your lower eyelids as if you were looking up into the sun while keeping your upper eyelids as neutral as possible. You’ll notice the eye muscles under your fingers ‘flexing’ or quivering as they tighten. Repeat this squint and release ten times, making sure to keep your upper eyelids as wide open as possible.
Blitz yourself better!
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