Have you ever done facial exercises?
I remember first reading about facial exercise in a teen magazine when I was about sixteen. The article mentioned that it would help maintain facial muscle tone and so, I sat in front of the mirror, read the instructions and started exercising. I was feeling really silly and, after exercising for a few more days without really seeing any results, I just decided to stop. And I’m really glad I did. Although these days there are lots of websites praising the benefits of facial exercises, the truth is, they just don’t work. Worse, they can actually damage skin. How? Before answering that, we need to know what makes skin age..
Why skin ages and sags
Supporters of facial exercise believe that it prevents, stops and reverses sagging skin by toning up the muscles of the face. However, this theory has a major flaw: lack of muscle tone is NOT what causes skin to sag and wrinkle and so, even if it were possible to tone these facial muscles, it will provide no benefit for your skin. So, what causes aging instead? Lots of factors: sun exposure, genetics, gravity, bone and hormone loss, repetition of facial movements, depletion of collagen, elastin and fat in the skin and the loosening of the ligaments that hold the muscles in place which occurs as we age.
Why facial exercise is bad for skin
Now, exercising facial muscles cannot stop or reverse all those processes that cause aging, but it can make things worse because, as I stated above, repetition of facial movements is one of the causes of aging. 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 we move them a lot, when we smile, when we frown, when we squint our eyes and when we purse our lips (something that smokers especially do very often and another good reason why they should quit). Over the years, all these movements contribute to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, so we should limit, not increase them!
The Bottom Line
There are no studies that show that facial exercise is good for skin, but there’s plenty of evidence that shows that increasing facial movements increases wrinkles too. Of course that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t laugh, smile or frown. It’s important to be able to express our emotions and we shouldn’t be paranoid about it causing wrinkles. We should just be careful to avoid unnecessary muscle movement and that means no facial exercise and no smoking for instance.
Do you do facial exercises?