...And Say No To The Face Workout

By Minji

  • Although I’m a huge fan of the face massage, I’m against face workouts
  • Considering facial wrinkles come from excessively using muscles, toning to prevent wrinkles doesn’t make much sense
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Hopefully you all know already that I’m a huge fan when it comes to a great face massage.  My two-minute gua sha massage is super easy and will deliver life long glowing results. Stimulating your fascia and lymph systems in a firm but gentle way can be huge for improved circulation and muscle tone in the face.  However, I’m against face workouts. 

What do I mean by a face workout as opposed to a face massage?  By a face workout, I mean moving your face or exaggerating certain expressions in your face with the goal of strengthening your facial muscles.  If doing a reverse-fly with weights is a back workout, someone applying gentle pressure on your oiled back would be a back massage.  It seems like the concept of working out your face is everywhere these days.  There are skincare shops dedicated to the face workout even, and obviously face yoga has been around for forever. 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the theory behind the face workout and why one might consider it beneficial.  Just like other parts of the body, as we age, we lose muscle tone which results in saggy skin.  A great way to prevent this is to work out and tone our muscles.  So theoretically, the face workout makes sense.

However, according to experts, the truth is that many of our facial wrinkles come from excess muscle activity.  Frown lines, crow’s feet, and forehead wrinkles all come from excessively using your facial muscles, not from under using them or not working them out.  Think about it – botox, which is known to be effective in fighting wrinkles, basically prevents wrinkles by freezing muscles so they can’t go to work anymore. 

When you think about it this way, the idea of toning facial muscles to prevent wrinkles doesn’t make much sense.  I’ve watched quite a few videos available online of people getting face workouts, or doing it themselves.  Most of them involve visible formation of wrinkles – whether you’re actively scrunching up your face to strengthen a particular muscle, or a therapist is working out one area at the expense of wrinkling up other parts of your face.  It literally makes me cringe every time I watch one of these videos.

Dr. Yoon explains, muscles can be largely divided into the skeletal muscles of the body and facial muscles of the face.  For skeletal muscles of the body that decrease with age, muscle strengthening through exercise is important.  However, facial muscles are different in that working them out can not only strengthen these muscles, but also cause wrinkles on the skin.  There’s a lot that’s still unclear when it comes to facial muscles and aging.   

In general, you can think of your face in three parts: upper (forehead to eyes), middle, and lower (jaw to chin).  The upper and lower face muscles are known to contract as we age and thus, practicing relaxing these muscles should help.  Developing simple habits such as not gazing upward to prevent forehead wrinkles caused by the contraction of the forehead muscles, reducing cell phone usage, or actively relaxing your jaw muscles can all be helpful too.

My advice is, stick to a solid daily routine and a properly done face massage.  This is one workout you can skip and actually feel good about.