It is fair to say that one of the most widely talked about anti-aging practices in terms of efficacy is the practice of facial fitness. In some circles, the term facial fitness, or facial muscle strengthening, also refers to the practice of facial yoga, and is additionally related to the practice of facial massage.
While the quick fix nature of Botox injections and even more invasive cosmetic procedures is tempting for many women at midlife, there’s a growing number of women looking for other options. Non-evasive facial fitness seems to fit the bill. And why not, if it was good enough for Cleopatra, who has been famously associated with the practice, then why not give it a try?
Historically, some forms of facial exercise even date back to the end of the 7th century to the Imperial Court of Empress Wu Zetian in the Tang Dynasty. Forms of her particular facial practice remain popular in China to this day.
What Studies Say
If you are so inclined to pursue a holistic, non-invasive approach to looking and feeling better about yourself, there are many methods and approaches online, some free of charge and other more substantial practices available via subscription. Indeed, a cursory online search will provide you with pages and pages of current practitioners and methods both modern and ancient.
So how will you weed out and determine what is truly effective for you? Research on this topic is light but we understand more is currently underway. The most solid study, which was published in a 2018 JAMA Dermatology paper focused on a 20-week facial exercise program conducted with women aged 40 to 65 who practiced for 30 minutes daily for the first eight weeks and then every other day for the remainder of the study. The women were also provided with two sets of 90-minute face-to-face training sessions by a professional practitioner prior to home exercise.
The study which began in 2013 and concluded in 2015, was approved by the Northwestern University’s Institutional Review Board.
Its two big takeaways stated that, “….a regimen of at-home facial exercises maintained for 20 weeks seemed to improve mid-face and lower face fullness,” and that further research would be necessary to isolate the causes and effects of the exercise-related changes to better assess the usefulness of their findings when applied to a greater population.
What Women Say
What studies aren’t showing us right now is the excitement among many women who have been employing these practices and absolutely love, or at least really like, the changes they are seeing. That aspect alone has women the world over following leaders in the facial fitness space and attesting to practices that are working for them.
Among the most popular practitioners in our current digital beauty world is Danielle Collins. The self-touted “Facial Yoga Expert” has carved out quite a following for herself not only at home in England with her published works on the subject, her podcasts and videos, and her celebrity endorsements, but globally, as well.
Collins describes herself as a great believer in using a fusion of traditional techniques that date back thousands of years, particularly in Eastern medicine, with more modern scientifically proven research. She explains that the Face Yoga Method that carries her name is just such a fusion.
With a robust YouTube channel and nearly a 100,000 followers each on Facebook and Instagram, women are clearly excited about the results they are seeing. A 10-day personal course is available on her website for $34.99.
Another Brit making waves for her approach to non-evasive facial improvement is Abigail James with her anti-aging, face-lifting massage techniques. Described at the “Queen of Skin” by Forbes magazine, James approaches her practice with a background as a certified facial clinician, as well as a wellbeing expert and advocate for holistic wellness.
James incentivizes followers with things like free facial massage and treatments on her website and a comprehensive video series on her website and YouTube channel. Her Face Lifting Massage for Jowls and Lower Face has been viewed well over a million times and has received tens of thousands of positive reviews.
One extremely beneficial side-effect of all this facial manipulation that surprised us, but that we are more than happy to report, is the empowering effects that women have reported feeling about their facial fitness practices.
“If we have to exercise the muscles in our body, it only makes sense that we have to exercise the muscles in our face to stay firm and strong,” says Nancy, 53, a firm believer in regular facial exercise, who has been employing her particular practice for the last 15 months.
Nancy, a business investor, was most interested in addressing crepiness around her eye area and skin that was beginning to sag in her chin and jawline area about two years ago. After reviewing some options she saw advertised on social media, Nancy says, she heard about Patricia Goroway’s work in this area and opted to purchase her book, Facial Fitness, rather than taking an online class. (Goroway is an author and expert in facial muscle rehabilitation, according to her LinkedIn page.)
“It is one of those simple, but revolutionary ideas,” Nancy conveys about her routine which is to be employed every evening to start and takes about 15 minutes per session. Goroway’s method is a series of exercises performed in a specific order for efficacy which is then followed by a series of massage techniques. (When starting this practice, it is highly recommended that you perform the techniques using a mirror to ensure proper placement of the hands on the face.) Since the exercises need to be applied to freshly cleansed skin using a basic moisturizer, Nancy says, she likes to do them in the evening before bedtime; sometimes she even does them while watching TV.
Fifteen months since starting her practice, Nancy relays, she is very pleased with her results.
“I feel like my face is more defined and that I have less wrinkles and sagging skin,” she says. “I’m certain there’s a difference in my jawline being more defined.”
Nancy says she is also encouraged that friends have remarked about a difference in her skin and that for her the process had no downsides.
“I would recommend it to every single individual on the planet!”
Want to know more about Goroway’s Facial Fitness routine? Check out this week’s blog for our co-founder Satya Robin’s personal review.
Rules and Caveats
Regardless of which method you choose, you should be advised that most clinicians in this space agree that certain types of wrinkles are actually caused by making specific facial expressions and movements, that’s why we get wrinkles in the first place. So just the stretching and contorting of your face without specific instruction could do more harm than good—and is certainly not advised.
Every methodology we researched is specific in its approach and enforces the strict practice of their methods exactly as shown.
Also, attaching the term “fitness” to the practice of working the facial muscles repetitively and frequently should not be misconstrued as a weight-loss exercise as none of the techniques espoused on the internet claim to enable one to reduce fat in the face.
Caveats aside, there is certainly reason to be excited about the prospects of tighter, younger-looking skin without the downside of scalpel and surgeon.
If you are practicing a facial fitness routine now, we would love to know more about what’s working for you and what aspects of the practice in particular you find most beneficial. Just add your experiences and thoughts to our GF Forum Beauty page.