Downward Dog … for Your Face?

3 min read  |  February 21, 2018  | 

New study speaks to the effectiveness of facial exercises.

Can contorting your face into odd expressions shed years off your appearance? Some people are devotees to facial exercises, or “face yoga”.  But some experts disagree.

“Facial exercises are unlikely to provide much in the way of cosmetic benefit for wrinkling of the face,” says Dr. Brian Morrison, a dermatologist with the University of Miami Health System. “That said, there is a theoretical benefit of developing larger facial muscles which may add volume to an aging face.”

In January, a letter published in the JAMA Dermatol journal described a study that tested the theory that building muscles in your face leads to a more youthful appearance. The letter claimed that a daily 30-minute facial exercise routine resulted in study participants looking an average of almost three years younger after 20 weeks.

Rest may be best

On the other side of the spectrum, some physicians argue that exercising the face might cause more wrinkles. Dr. Morrison explains that facial movements that create creasing of the skin are a known culprit in the development of deep facial wrinkles.  “In fact, the most effective therapeutic treatments, such as botulinum toxins (i.e. Botox), are used to paralyze targeted muscles to prevent the formation of undesirable wrinkling,” he says.

Making sure your face is completely at rest may be the best way to go.  Specifically, experts recommend that you mindfully relax your face.  Many people furrow their brow or squint without even thinking about it.

“But, I do not think people should walk around looking expressionless,” Dr. Morrison adds. “Facial expressions play a significant role in how we communicate with one another.”

Real wrinkle removers

One of the main issues with the “face yoga” study is its size and lack of diverse test subjects. Only 16 middle aged women completed the whole trial.  There are, however, a few steps you can take that have been proven to help you keep a youthful appearance.  Dr. Morrison recommends:

  • Don’t smoke.
    Smoking causes wrinkles by breaking down collagen which keeps your skin looking firm.
  • Use sun screen every day.
    Sun damage is the top cause of fine wrinkles.
  • Sleep on your back.
    Make gravity work for you.  Plus, getting a good night’s sleep will help keep you looking young.
  • Wear sunglasses.
    When you wear eye protection outside, it keeps you from squinting, which causes the dreaded “crow’s feet.”
  • Stay hydrated.
    When you are dehydrated your skin loses elasticity and wrinkles are more noticeable.
  • Eat healthy.
    A diet high in antioxidants and vitamins keeps you and your skin healthy
  • Moisturize
    You don’t have to spend thousands on face cream, but a good moisturizer should be a part of your daily skin care regimen.

In case you’re interested

The 32 exercises in the study focused on the neck and cheeks and included:

The Cheek Lifter:

  1. Form an O with your lips, putting the upper lip over teeth
  2. Smile, lifting the cheek muscles up
  3. Put fingers lightly on top part of cheek
  4. Release cheek muscles to lower them, then lift them back up.
  5. Repeat by lowering and lifting the cheeks.

The Happy Cheeks Sculpting:

  1. Smile without showing teeth and with lips pursed together
  2. Smile forcing cheek muscles up
  3. Put fingers on the corners of your mouth
  4. Slide fingers up to the top of cheeks and hold for 20 seconds.

Natasha Bright is a contributing writer for UMiami Health News.

Tags: Botox, dermatology, Dr. Brian Morrison, face yoga, facial exercises, wrinkles

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