shutterstock /Tatyana DzemilevaWe all experience feeling tired from time to time (here are seven reasons why you might feel that way), but looking tired is a whole other ball game. We experience laugh lines, furrowed brows, and drooping eyelids as we get older. Though aging is inevitable, targeted facial exercises claim to work against gravity and help us look younger than ever.
What are facial exercises?
Facial exercises are Isometric exercises with resistance that promise to tone, tighten, and even lift these facial muscles to help us look younger, livelier, more awake—and possibly be a substitute to cosmetic surgery if done correctly and regularly. Cynthia Rowland, founder of Facial Magic, says, “When I first learned of facial exercise I was highly skeptical and with good reason. Twists, puckers, funny faces and contortions are touted as facial exercise but to me they’re wrinkle-producing repetitive motions that do not lift, tone, or tighten sagging facial muscles.” But, after some time learning what they were and mastering the skill, she created a video that was well-received on HSN, QVC, and the Canadian Home Shopping and endorsed by Mark Berman, MD and Carolyn Doherty, MD. The video’s popularity showed her that women everywhere were hungry to learn more. (Here are some secrets to getting clear, healthy skin you might want to check out.)
Here’s how she explains her system: “We divide the face into 15 regions and use 18 proven exercises to lift, tone, and tighten sagging facial features. Each exercise requires 35 seconds. Two exercises per week are learned and then added to this strength building program. At the end of nine weeks, all 18 exercises have been learned and the time required to execute the entire program is about 24 minutes.”
Here’s an example: The Upper Eye exercise which Rowland says lifts the brows and begins to tighten lax forehead muscles. It’s done by placing three fingers of each hand underneath your eyebrows, then dropping the palms of your hands to your face. With your forehead and face relaxed, push your eyebrows straight up and anchor (hold). Keep your eyes open, look straight ahead. Now use your forehead muscle to push down into your fingertips. Count to five. Release the contraction, remove your hands, take a deep breath and begin the exercise again, the next time counting to ten. At the seventh second, close your eyes while you keep pushing up with your fingertips and down into your fingertips with your forehead.
Do facial exercises work?
It sounds promising, but we’re all asking the question: do facial exercises work? Mark Deuber, MD, board certified plastic surgeon in Dallas, says, “Generally speaking, many of the gross lines on our face develop over time perpendicular to the pull of the underlying muscles. Horizontal forehead lines, for example, develop on top of the frontalis muscle (which has vertically oriented fibers). So, you’re looking at a “t” shaped, perpendicular relationship between facial muscles (up and down) and the wrinkling skin (side to side) on top of it. Freezing or stopping the forehead muscle movement is the way to avoid these lines. We treat patients with Botox in this area, which temporarily paralyzes those underlying muscles, lessening the lines (and sometimes even making them disappear). As you can guess, paralyzing the muscle is the extreme opposite of exercising it.” Here’s what you should know about Botox before getting it.
He encourages that “it’s never a bad idea to exercise,” however, “it’s very important to keep in mind that exercising a specific area of the body does not directly cause that area of the body to look better. For example, no number of sit-ups will lead directly to the appearance of toned abs. A six-pack belly appears when you drop your body fat low enough to allow the abdominal muscles (that we all have) to show through thin overlying tissue cover (belly skin). It takes exercise to get there, yes, but it’s the very strict diet that is actually a much bigger part of getting that six-pack.”
And when it comes to facial aging, there’s more to consider like, “skin quality, sun damage, body fat, inevitable facial volume loss from aging, and the long terms effect of underlying muscle pull,” Dr. Deuber says.
Overall, it unfortunately seems like our dreams of sitting and doing facial exercises in bed at night are not the answer. If we want to appear ageless, a visit to our dermatologist is in the future or these proven secrets to looking younger.