You work out to firm and tone your body and help slow down the aging process. But what about exercising your face? You can buy instructional DVDs that show you how to exercise your facial muscles. They claim these exercises firm, tone and reduce facial laxity that comes from aging. It certainly sounds plausible. After all, you know the good things exercise does for your body. Can facial exercises make your face look younger too?
The Theory behind Facial Exercises
Facial exercises are based on the idea that firming the muscles underneath the skin through exercise prevents sagging and makes skin look more youthful. You may be able to strengthen the muscles in your face through repeated movements, but it won’t make your skin look younger.
Underneath the skin lies a layer of connective tissue. Beneath that lies muscle. Skin laxity and wrinkles form when collagen and elastin tissue, two proteins that give skin its support and youthful resilience, are damaged. This most commonly comes from sun exposure, but a poor diet, smoking, and excessive alcohol contribute too.
When there’s less healthy collagen, the skin and connective tissue become lax and droop due to the effect of gravity. Exercising the muscles underneath the connective tissue will do little to stop this process since the problem stems from a lack of healthy collagen and elastin not the weakness in the facial muscles. Facial exercises won’t stimulate new collagen production.
Facial Exercise May Actually Worsen Skin Wrinkles
Even more disturbing is the fact that facial exercises can actually make wrinkles worse. Repeatedly moving the face puts stress on the overlying skin, and the repeated movements can create new wrinkles. That’s why Botox is so effective for reducing wrinkles. It paralyzes the facial muscles so movement is reduced. Facial exercises may be the anti-Botox.
There Are Better Ways to Prevent Wrinkles and Facial Sagging
Keep exercising your body, but put the facial exercise DVD aside. Use a good sunscreen instead. Most aging is due to sun damage, and facial exercises do little to protect you against that. If wrinkles are already a problem, there are products that contain retinoic acid and alpha-hydroxy acids that help to diminish fine lines.
Prescription strength Retina-A boosts collagen production and is effective for treating wrinkles and sun damage, although it’s difficult for some people to tolerate because it’s irritating to the skin. If you have deeper lines, there are other options including fillers and facial peels that are effective for treating wrinkles.
You can make your skin look more youthful by simply using the pads of your fingers to gently massage the surface. This increases circulation to the surface of the skin. Exfoliating gently with an exfoliating pad designed for the face will also give your skin a youthful glow.
The Bottom Line?
Don’t waste your time doing facial exercises. Not only are they ineffective, but they can also make wrinkles worse. But don’t stop exercising your body. You’ll still get lots of anti-aging benefits from that.
Skin Care News. “Facial Exercises: Fact or Fiction?”
Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles and Practice. Leslie Baumann, MD. 2002.