I remember first reading about facial exercises in a teen magazine. I must have been 16 or something. Anyway, the article mentioned that these exercises would help 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. And I’m so glad I did.
Thing is, there’s no scientific proof they work. But, if the experts are to be believed, they could actually damage skin. Let’s see why:
Why skin ages and sags
Toning the muscles of the face should prevent, stop, and even reverse sagging skin, right? But,this theory has a major flaw: lack of muscle tone is NOT what causes sagging and wrinkles. So, 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
- Loosening of the ligaments that hold the muscles in place
- Repetition of facial movements
- Sun exposure
Why facial exercise is 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 we move them a lot: when we smile, when we frown, when we squint our eyes and when we purse our lips. Is it really wise to increase these repeated movements on purpose? Mmmm….
What The Science Says
This is the frustrating part. Science isn’t saying anything about facial exercises, yet. So, both these theories
- Facial exercises are good because they tone up the muscles
- Facial exercises are bad because they cause 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: they may help in controlled situations, but, if you do them alone, without proper supervision and control, you may do your skin more harm than good.
The Bottom Line
There is no scientific proof facial exercises work, 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 exercises. You’d probably just make things worse.
Have you ever tried facial exercises?