When your gut is sagging, you jump into a killer ab workout. When your pecs look jiggly, you take on an upper chest workout. So how about your face? Your jaw line? Your chubby cheeks? Yes, there’s a workout for that — and it might even make a difference. Face exercises are one of the latest fitness trends that, enthusiasts hope, have people scrunching, squinting, and frowning their way to a tighter face. If they work at all.
Why the doubt? Because research on the topic is limited, and the studies that do exist paint a murky picture: One report in the journal JAMA Dermatology, often cited by the growing number of facial gyms (yes, a gym where guys go to get their jowl exercises on), found that 30 minutes of daily facial exercises, performed for 20 weeks, moderately improved participants’ facial appearance. And South Korean researchers found that people who performed exercises using the face equivalent of a Thighmaster for 30 seconds, twice a day, for eight weeks showed a measurable improvement in their facial muscle structure. But other research, like an analysis of nine studies in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, has found little evidence to support the practice of exercise for facial rejuvenation.
Still, the trend continues to move — evidence be damned — with three in 10 people saying they already do or are interested in trying facial exercises, according to one nationwide survey. Facial gyms are opening across the country like the aptly named FaceGym, with four locations in New York City alone. Men are making up an increasingly large percent of clientele. That doesn’t surprise Cynthia Rowland, founder of Facial Magic, an exercise program for your face. “Most men prefer a fast-acting exercise routine to expensive, invasive treatments,” she says. Plus, “men prefer wearing their God-given, natural-looking face” over cosmetic procedures, making them ideal clients for face gyms.
Facial exercises are predicated on the idea that your skin loses elasticity due to a decrease in collagen as you get older, causing your face to lose its definition. By strengthening the muscles in your face — the ones that help you open and close your mouth or raise your eyebrows — you’ll be able to firm up some of the sagging areas.
But not all facial exercises are created equally, says Rowland. “Repetitive motions like lifting your eyebrows and wrinkling your forehead will cause deep, horizontal lines to develop. Scowling and frowning also damage your facial tissue as vertical lines form on your forehead between the eyebrows. Same with pursing your lips.” Instead, think of a facial workout as “resistance training with contraction exercises,” says Rowland. “No contortions, no funny faces, no twists or puckers.”
Curious to give it a try? The most important areas for guys to focus on include the upper eyes, nose-to-mouth lines, jaw line, and under-neck flab, says Rowland. (“These areas scream ‘aging’ if left unattended,” she adds.) Perform these moves daily for the next two months to get your game face on. Oh, and don’t forget your face moisturizer with SPF. Unlike face exercises, there’s definitive evidence that regular application of this will firm up your look.
How to: Place the three middle fingers of each hand directly under your eyebrows. Drop the palms of your hands flat against your face. With the pads of your fingertips directly under your eyebrows, push your eyebrows upwards and slightly outwards. Hold your eyebrows in this position with your eyes open. Use facial muscles to lower your eyebrows while continuing to press up with your fingertips; hold the contraction for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat. This time hold the contraction for 10 seconds. At the seventh second, close your eyes, keeping your eyebrows held high. Repeat for a total of 35 seconds. Make sure you breathe in deeply through your nose, and exhale through your nose.
How to: Sit or stand with your shoulders erect. Lift your chin to form a taut line between your chin and your clavicle, without hyperextending your neck. Turn your head to the right and look over your right shoulder at the ceiling behind you, then jut your jaw forward. Hold that position for five seconds, release, and then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat the move three times for a total of 35 seconds of contraction; switches sides and repeat.
How to: Sit or stand with head level. Turn your eyes upward. Begin to close your eyes from the bottom to the top to make a glaring motion. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times for 10 seconds each. Note, this motion should be different than a squint. Do not squint!
How to: Place your three middle fingers just behind your chin bone. Press up. Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, feeling the muscles your fingers are pressing into contract. Hold three counts and relax. Repeat 10 times.
Chin and Neck
How to: Hold your head in a neutral position. Take your right or left hand, make a fist, and press up into your chin. Resist with your chin and neck. Keeping pressure with your fist, open your mouth and press down with your chin. Hold 5 seconds. Relax. Repeat 10 times. For extra stability, place your elbow on a table.
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