does facial exercise work

I remember first reading about facial exercise in a teen magazine. I must have been 16 or something. The article mentioned that these exercises helped maintain facial muscle tone and so, I dutifully sat in front of the mirror and started playing with my face.

I felt so silly! But, I was more than willing to put up with some embarrassment if these exercises really made my skin look better. But, after continuing for a few days and seeing no results whatsoever, I quit. 

Was it the right choice?

Hard to say. Talking about facial exercises is like opening a can of warms. There’s no scientific proof yet that facial exercises work, yet fans swear they help keep their skin wrinkle-free. Who’s right?!

Let’s try to unravel this mess, shall we?

Why Skin Ages And Sags

Fans of facial exercise claim that toning facial muscles prevents, stops, and even reverses sagging skin. Kind of like when you exercise your body. The more you do it, the more toned you get, and the smoother everything becomes.

But, this theory has a major flaw: lack of muscle tone is NOT what causes sagging and wrinkles. Even if you tone those muscles, you won’t be able to reverse aging.

So, what causes aging?

  • Bone and hormone loss
  • Depletion of collagen, elastin, and fat
  • Genetics
  • Gravity
  • Loosening of the ligaments that hold the muscles in place
  • Repetition of facial movements
  • Sun exposure

Related: 8 Science-Backed Ways To Rebuild Lost Collagen

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Is Facial Exercise Bad For Skin?

See what I highlighted above? Repetition of facial movement causes wrinkles. And, when you’re exercising your face, you’re repeating the same movements over and over again. The experts agree.

Paula Begoun, in one of her articles about facial exercise, quotes Dr Wilma Bergfeld, Head of Clinical Research, Department of Dermatology at The Cleveland Clinic: “Though I don’t recommend them I do believe they could work in some controlled situations. However, you would never want to do anything that moves the facial skin, especially as it ages, or overmanipulate the skin, because it would create more wrinkling, increasing the loss of elasticity in the skin.”

Dr Oz and Dr Michael F. Roizen in their You: Being Beautiful book, agree: “Exercising the facial muscles is a sure way to increase wrinkles. The facial muscles pull on the skin to give you facial expressions. And the repetitive movements of the skin, over the years, combined with the normal thinning of the collagen and elastin of the dermis, will eventually crack the skin, causing wrinkles. Botox is the reverse of exercise; it paralyzes muscles and lessens wrinkles.”

This makes a lot of sense. Think about it: what are the areas of your face that have more fine lines and wrinkles? The forehead, and the areas around the eyes and mouth.

Why? Because you move them a lot. When you smile. When you frown. When you squint your eyes. When you purse your lips. Is it really wise to increase these repeated movements on purpose? Mmmm….

What Does The Science Says About Facial Exercise?

This is the frustrating part. Science isn’t saying anything about facial exercise, yet. So, both these theories

  • Facial exercise is good because it tones up the muscles
  • Facial exercise is bad because it causes wrinkles through repeated movements

are just that, theories. Until there’s a study that proves one of them, what should we believe and do?

Personally, I believe the truth, as is often the case, lies somewhere in the middle. I agree with Dr Bergfeld: facial exercise may help in controlled situations, but, if you do it alone, without proper supervision and control, you may do your skin more harm than good.

The Bottom Line

There is no scientific proof facial exercise works, but there’s some evidence that repeated facial movements can lead to wrinkles. Unless you know what you’re doing, don’t bother with facial exercise. You may make things worse.

Have you ever tried facial exercise? Share your thoughts win the comments below.