If you’ve heard of face yoga or stumbled upon it during a late-night scroll on TikTok, you may have some questions. For starters, does it involve practicing crow pose with your face or balancing on your forehead? Thankfully, no.
Rather, face yoga is a practice of exercising, strengthening and toning facial, neck and jaw muscles to improve their appearance. It may help smooth your complexion and reduce fine lines. It’s also easy for anyone to try: Face yoga doesn’t require a studio membership and can be done anywhere. Trade your mat for a mirror, and you're ready for a face workout.
Face yoga has gained popularity on social media, with a whopping 1.9 billion views on TikTok alone. “Its accessibility and affordability make it appealing to a wide audience,” said Nazmeen Khaliq, beauty therapist and founder of Revive Room, a spa-like treatment center that offers face yoga classes.
With airbrushing apps at everyone’s fingertips, it’s hard to know if face yoga actually works from social media posts alone. According to a study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), 30 minutes of facial exercises over a 20-week period modestly improved volume in the mid and lower face in middle-aged female participants. Dermatologists and skin specialists generally endorse the practice as safe and effective.
Face yoga benefits
According to Khaliq, face, neck and jaw exercises can:
- Improve muscle tone
- Promote a restful and more youthful appearance
- Increase blood circulation and oxygen flow
- Detox the skin
- Drain the lymphatic system
- Reduce puffiness and brighten your complexion
- Provide a more sculpted appearance
“It is believed that the targeted exercises can strengthen the underlying muscles, leading to improved skin support and potentially minimizing the signs of aging,” she said.
Who can practice face yoga?
From younger people who want to keep their skin supple and ward off signs of aging to those looking for a natural way to improve their skin’s appearance, any healthy person can work face yoga into their wellness routine. But Khaliq said it’s not for everyone. If you’ve had recent facial surgery, facial or neck injuries or have skin conditions such as eczema, or are pregnant, you should talk to a healthcare provider (HCP) before trying face yoga. If you get face or neck fillers or injectables, you’ll want to wait until those areas have fully healed before starting or resuming facial yoga.
You may want to consider learning how to do the exercises from qualified instructors to make sure you’re doing them correctly. If you don’t use the right muscles, you could run the risk of creating deeper lines instead of minimizing them.
Health benefits of face yoga
How much, if any, can stretching and massaging your face contribute to your overall health? People with a dedicated face yoga routine can alleviate tension headaches, reduce stress, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, and improve sleep and gut health, said Brooke Jeffy, M.D., a dermatologist in Scottsdale, Arizona. She said that face yoga can also have a positive effect on your mental health. “When we feel calm and confident in our appearance, there is a snowball effect on our entire body. We feel more comfortable in our relationships and our interactions with others.” Reducing stress positively impacts our mood and can help us focus on self-care and what makes us happy.
Facial yoga routine and results
You don’t need to carve out an hour of your day to practice face yoga. Danielle Collins, creator of The Face Yoga Method, recommends at least 20 minutes a day, six days a week. Like any exercise routine, consistency is key to optimizing results. But, anything is better than nothing, according to Collins, and face yogis can begin to notice a slight improvement right away and long-term enhancements in their face and neck after two weeks.
Collins recommends these three simple exercises for face yoga newbies with step-by-step instructions.
1. The Owl
Thanks to their wide saucer-like eyes and extra eyelids, no other animal looks as alert as the owl. These exercises firm up the forehead and reduce lines and wrinkles.
- Make a big “C” shape with your thumbs and index fingers.
- Place your index fingers just above and parallel to your eyebrows and your thumbs on your cheeks.
- Pull down with the index fingers while raising your eyebrows and widening your eyes.
- Hold for two seconds, relax and repeat.
- Repeat steps 1 through 4 three more times.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds.
2. Circle the Eyes
The eyes are more than the window to our soul — they also broadcast a sleepless night to the world. Reduce dark circles and puffiness under the eyes and remove toxins with the following movements.
- Place your middle fingers on the outer edge of the eyebrows.
- Gently tap around your eyes, tracing the top of your eyebrows and continuing under your eye to the top of your cheekbones.
- Continue to tap the inside corners of your eye.
- Repeat, moving in the opposite direction and making little tapping motions. This aims to reduce eye wrinkles, boost circulation and relax the muscles.
- With your index fingers, stroke just under your eyes very gently from the nose outwards four times to relax the eye area.
3. Swan Neck
Graceful and elegant, swans’ necks are a thing of beauty. This exercise lifts and tones muscles in the neck and firms lines and wrinkles on the sides of your neck and face.
- Look straight ahead with your chin level.
- Turn your head to the right, even with your right shoulder, and tilt your head backward. Hold for six to eight seconds.
- Return to step 1. Turn your head to the left and even with your left shoulder. Tilt your head back and hold for six to eight seconds.
- Repeat the exercise three times.
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