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Good Housekeeping

5 Best Face Yoga Exercises

If we told you that you could gain all of the face-firming, -slimming, and -tightening benefits of a facelift without ever going under the knife, would you believe it? It sounds too good to be true, but new techniques touted by skin care brands, spas, and even “gyms” for the face claim that repeating specific movements can boost circulation and lift and tighten skin over time.

TLDR: just like any other fitness regimen, exercising the muscles in your face can result in improved tone and slimness. But we’re here to find out if a facial fitness routine actually be so effective as to replace plastic surgery — or even an anti-aging cream.

Is face yoga effective?

In short, yes — but you have to be committed to the regimen. “Because facial aging is due in part to muscle loss, if you can commit to a routine, exercise may strengthen those muscles, making the entire face look more firm and youthful,” explains Beauty Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann.

In one study, testers who facially exercised for 30 daily over two months, then every other day for three months, reported an increased fullness in their cheeks, making them look nearly three years younger. “It’s a really great natural solution to regain your youthful appearance, and a great alternative to Botox and plastic surgery,” says Koko Hayashi, facial yoga instructor at Skin Fit Gym in Los Angeles.

How often do you need to practice face yoga to see results?

“Ideally every single day, if you want to see good results,” says Hayashi. Wizemann agrees that consistency is the only key to success: “If you like a challenge and can stick to a 30-minute daily beauty routine for at least five months, you could possibly look a couple of years younger.” But Wizemann adds that these exercises shouldn’t replace the proven efficacy of anti-aging skin care and sun protection.

How does face yoga work?

In facial fitness classes like Hayashi’s (which run $200 per 50-minute session), you’ll learn to “wake up your sleeping muscles in your face” to improve tone (she says 80% of them lay dormant), and “relax your facial muscles, especially your over[worked] muscles which cause wrinkles” she explains. To smooth wrinkles and firm up saggy spots, Hayashi shared her five best face yoga exercises. You might feel silly making these faces at first, but the results speak for themselves.

Everything to Know About Face Yoga

How to do the exercise: Start your “workout circuit” by blowing exaggerated raspberries not only just with the lips, but with the cheeks as well. “The bigger vibration is better for relaxing facial muscles,” says Hayashi. “Lip muscles are a core muscle for the face. By relaxing these muscles, other muscles are relaxed too.”

How often to do it: At least once (and up to three times) per day, “or whenever you feel stressed,” says Hayashi.

Everything to Know About Face Yoga

How to do the exercise: First off, don’t stop smiling and laughing! “If you don’t smile, you’re not going to develop cheek muscle,” says Hayashi. Instead, tackle smile lines by “breaking down the tension in the muscle from the inside out by using the tongue.”

How to do the exercise: Keeping shoulders back and relaxed, point your chin down to your chest and make an oval with your mouth. At the same time, look upward with just the eyes: “don’t move your head or shoulders, you should feel stretching underneath the eye,” says Hayashi.

Hold for three seconds, and then tuck the upper lip inside the mouth to make an “ahh” face. This circuit should give you “a deep stretch in the face … so that wrinkles don’t stay.”

How often to do it: Once a day, no more. Otherwise, you risk bringing “too much stretch” to the skin and the muscles in the face.