Consider this your new anti-aging secret weapon.
As you can imagine, being a beauty writer means that most of the targeted ads in our feeds have to do with skin care. Lately, however, it’s as if every time we open our social media apps, a person is preaching about why everyone needs to throw their face creams away and turn their attention to facial yoga to tackle fine lines and wrinkles. Now, that is a huge claim, and quite frankly, we weren’t too quick to say goodbye to our favorite moisturizers just yet–but the idea of facial yoga as an addition to our anti-aging regimens did sound intriguing. So what is facial yoga, and why does it work? We asked three professionals for their thoughts: acupuncturist and women’s health and pain specialist Dr. Anna Hsieh Gold, DACM, L.Ac, FABORM; FaceGym national training manager Madalaina Conti; and co-founder of WTHN Dr. Shari Auth, DACM, LAC, LMT explain the ins and outs of facial yoga.
How Do Wrinkles Form?
Before learning why facial yoga is good for relaxing muscles and lifting the skin, you should first understand how exactly wrinkles form. “There are 42 muscles in the face that impact our facial expressions. We are generally not aware of using them as we go about our day reacting to situations,” Dr. Gold tells Coveteur. “These facial muscles contract to make different expressions, and over time, as we repetitively flex certain muscles, grooves or wrinkles appear.” So yes, there is some truth to your grandmother’s seemingly outdated sentiment, which is not to raise your eyebrow when you are shocked, as it will cause wrinkles. When adding the fact that collagen and elastin production decreases as we age (starting at 25), the connective tissues in our faces start to deteriorate, exacerbating fine lines and wrinkles even further.
What Is Facial Yoga?
Facial yoga certainly sounds like a new and trendy technique for battling sagging skin, but it has solid roots in traditional Chinese medicine. In fact, people have been using facial massage techniques and acupressure to relieve tight muscles in the skin for centuries. So what makes facial yoga different? Conti explains, “Facial yoga is a form of facial exercise that uses specific movements to target muscle and connective tissue to build muscle memory, tone, tighten, and contour the face, reducing signs of aging.” Many of these movements involve stretching and massaging the muscles in the face, which is why many people compare facial yoga to regular yoga that you might do in a studio. By relaxing the muscles in the face, we allow fewer opportunities for the skin on top to wrinkle. Dr. Auth adds, “It also helps to lift the face by toning the muscles of the face,” which means it can help with sagging jowls and less-than-firm jawlines, too.
Proper technique is also critical in order to see tangible results. Dr. Gold explains, “Generally, facial yoga is done with the hands. With your hands and fingers, you can feel the tension in the muscles. Facial acupressure is also done with fingertips, [and] skin contact during acupressure conducts qi.” Conti recommends using a combination of hands and gua sha tools, especially when looking to firm the jawline, depuff the face, and promote lymphatic drainage. Dr. Auth adds, “I love face cupping for relaxing and toning the face. Plus, face cupping also feels amazing! It’s truly holistic beauty because it gives you that glow but can also relax a tight jaw or prevent a tension headache.”
The Best Facial Yoga Poses For…
Firming the jawline: Yes, there is a way to have a killer jawline without injections. Says Dr. Auth, “Lift your chin up towards the ceiling, smile wide, and open and close your jaw to exercise your neck muscles. Do this slowly six to 10 times. Then keep your chin lifted, and turn your head to one side and repeat the opening and closing of the jaw. Repeat on the other side and do six to 10 times on each side; take a break in between sides if necessary. Bring your chin back to the center and lift up to the ceiling. Hold the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and swallow. Do this three times.”
Firming the jowls: One of the main signs of aging is a loss of elasticity, which is evident in jowls that distend on either side of your mouth. To plump up this area, Dr. Gold recommends the following. “Make an O shape with your mouth and cover your teeth. Keeping the teeth covered, make a slow smile and, keeping the teeth covered, go back to an O shape. Do this five times, and on the fifth time, hold the smile shape. Place your index finger under the center of the lower lip, keeping the tension in the cheek area. Start opening and closing the mouth (this reminds me of a fish) and as you do so, lift the chin and look up at the ceiling. You should feel the muscles in your cheek and jaw tighten. Lower your head to a neutral position and repeat five times.”
Battling fine lines or wrinkles in the forehead: Now, we can’t promise that these exercises will completely diminish the look of deep-set wrinkles, but they will soften the lines in your forehead and the elevens between your brows. Dr. Auth tells Coveteur, “Open your eyes wide like you are surprised, and hold for five deep breaths. This helps to undo a wrinkled forehead. [Then] use your knuckles or a face tool, like gua sha, to massage the forehead, helping to relax and release the frontalis muscle.” To massage fine lines and wrinkles with a gua sha tool, gently stretch the area and, holding the tool perpendicular to your skin, scrape small sections of the area until complete. Once you have scraped the full area perpendicularly, hold the gua sha tool flat against your skin and gently scrape from the middle of the forehead to the drainage points. This perpendicular scraping technique is ideal for releasing muscle tension and promoting circulation in the skin.
Decreasing Crow’s-Feet: We are often told to refrain from touching the under-eye area because the skin is quite delicate. So how can we massage the kinks out of this area without wreaking more havoc? Says Dr. Gold, “A good exercise to firm up the [seven] muscles around the eyes and prevent wrinkles around them is to press the third fingers on the point between the eyebrows and your index fingers on the outer edge of your eyes, making a V with the fingers. Keep the forehead relaxed and look up, making a slight squint. You should feel your eyelids shaking. This [indicates] that you are working the muscles around the eyes, which you want to tone up to prevent wrinkles. Count to five and relax by closing the eyes. Repeat five to 10 times.”
All professionals agree that you can certainly incorporate facial yoga into either your daytime or nighttime skin-care routine, depending on what you are looking to achieve. Conti reveals, “I love practicing in the morning to depuff for the day and make sure I get my water in,” as it is imperative to drink a full glass of water after a facial yoga workout to rehydrate the skin. On the other hand, Dr. Gold recommends “doing facial yoga as a part of your ‘winding-down’ routine. It is a great way to decompress and relax the facial muscles at the end of the day. This way, you can undo all of the (possibly tense) expressions that you may have been making unconsciously throughout the day.”
Want more stories like this?
Facial Cupping Is My Best-Kept Secret to Brighter, More Sculpted Skin
Read This Before Your First Acupuncture Appointment
How to Use a Gua Sha Tool