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Face Yoga

Does face yoga really work? Research and studies say “Yes”

Written by Meena AzzolliniUpdated on 07 Feb 2023
Face Yoga

Does face yoga really work? Research and studies say “Yes”

Written by Meena Azzollini.Updated at 07 Feb 2023
Recently, the popularity of face yoga has been growing. Nearly three in ten respondents of the 16000 Americans surveyed for the annual MINDBODY Wellness Index in 2021 reported having an interest in face yoga or were already practicing facial exercises to tone their face muscles. There are plenty of studies that validate the many benefits yoga has for your mind and body. But what about face yoga? Does it really work? In this article, we will discuss this valid question and show you how face yoga works.

Does Face Yoga Really Work? Studies say “yes”

In this 2018 study published in JAMA Dermatology, a group of 40 to 65-year-old women performed facial exercises for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks and then every other day for the next 12 weeks. Abovementioned research, done by dermatologists from Northwestern University involved 32 facial exercises, including The Cheek Lifter and The Happy Cheeks Sculpting. The study group attended two live, 90-minute muscle-resistant facial exercise training sessions initially with Gary Sikorski, founder of the Happy Face Yoga and an authority on facial toning exercises, who developed the program for this particular study. The study results showed an improvement in the appearance of the participants, knocking off nearly 3 years from their faces. Upper and lower cheek fullness accompanied the youthful looks of the participants. The women in the study also reported being highly satisfied with the program and the results.
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While the Northwestern academic study shows the benefits that facial exercises offer, the authors of the study noted that larger studies are needed to confirm these findings, which may then give people a low-cost and non-toxic method of looking younger. Yet, the Northwestern study is not the only study that has sought to research facial exercises, although it is one that is most cited.

How face yoga works, according to studies

In 2014, a systematic review by Aesthetic Surgery Journal looked at nine studies about the benefits of face yoga and facial exercises for facial rejuvenation. It found out that the results were inconclusive, however, positive outcomes were achieved in all the reviewed studies. Following their recommendation, team from University of Mississippi Medical Center reviewed seven more studies in 2020. They've found out, that facial exercises:
  • improve the volume around the upper lip, cheek, and jawline
  • decrease the appearance of wrinkles
  • improve the tone and firmness of the skin.
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A 2007 study in 10 men and women in Brazil has shown a significant reduction of the nasolabial folds in the patients. The distance between the nasolabial sulcus and the tragus reduced in one patient for a mean of as much as 4-6 mm.
A Japanese study that sought to assess the effect of facial exercises on the mental health of elderly adults reported that facial yoga also improved:
  • facial expression
  • mental health
  • mood of the participants
The exercise program included rhythmic facial movement, muscle stretching, facial yoga, and yogic breathing, practiced for 30 minutes twice a week for 12 weeks.

What do experts say about face yoga?

Data from these studies suggest that both facial acupuncture and facial exercises have the potential to improve the skin laxity, wrinkle length, muscle thickness, and pigmentary changes associated with aging. Patients frequently reported improvement and experienced very few side effects. – Non-Traditional and Non-Invasive Approaches in Facial Rejuvenation: A Brief Review by Abigail M. Smith
If muscle underneath becomes bigger, the skin has more stuffing underneath it and the firmer muscle appears to make the shape of the face more full. – Emily Poon, Senior study author of the Northwestern study
The exercises in the study enlarge and strengthen the facial muscles so that the face becomes firmer, more toned and shaped like a younger-looking face. – Dr. Murad Alam, the lead author of the study
Since facial aging is associated with volume loss of fat and muscle mass, facial exercise and face yoga can presumably improve facial skin appearance by inducing underlying muscle growth. – Dr. Deepak Jakhar, author of the "Face yoga: Preventive aesthetic dermatology"

Why Face Yoga May Work

Aging is the most common cause of facial changes that include sagging skin, muscle loss, and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. As you age, your face loses elasticity, and the fat pads that fit together to give shape to your face become thinner, which causes parts of your face to move downwards. There is still a demand for more studies related to face yoga to provide the conclusive evidence it needs. But whether it works can be based on the fact that exercise-induced muscular activity stimulates the growth of collagen and elastin, which is often lacking in aging skin. Exercise is also known to stimulate the growth of muscles, particularly resistance training, which forms the basis of many face yoga exercises.

The Takeaway

Face yoga can be a wonderful, cost-effective method of improving your appearance and achieving healthy facial skin and muscle tone. Though the jury is still out on exactly how effective face yoga is and its long-term effects, proponents of face yoga say that facial exercises make a difference. They reinforce the muscles in the face, neck, and scalp, strengthen and tone them, when done correctly.