New research suggests facial workouts can save money on skin care.
Talk about face lifts.
A new Northwestern University study claims that doing facial exercises for five months can make you look three years younger.
Researchers enlisted 27 women aged 40 to 65 to master a 30-minute set of 32 facial exercises developed by Happy Face Yoga’s Gary Sikorski, who co-authored the study. They included:
- The Cheek Lifter: Open your mouth to form an “O,” and position your upper lip over teeth. Smile to lift cheek muscles up, then put your fingers lightly on the top part of the cheek before releasing the cheek muscles to lower them. Lift the cheeks back up. Repeat by lowering and lifting the cheeks.
- Happy Cheeks Sculpting: Smile without showing your teeth. Purse your lips together, and then smile – forcing the cheek muscles up. Place your fingers on the corners of the mouth and slide them up to the top of the cheeks, holding for 20 seconds.
Sikorski taught the subjects these moves in two face-to-face, 90-minute training sessions before the experiment began. The women performed this regimen at home every day for the first eight weeks, and then every other day for the remaining 12 weeks. And after 20 weeks, the 16 women who kept up this facade fitness had their photos rated by a dermatologist using a standardized facial aging scale, which found they looked three years younger on average, with noticeable improvement in the fullness of their upper and lower cheeks.
“The exercises enlarge and strengthen the facial muscles, so the face becomes firmer and more toned and shaped like a younger face,” said lead author Dr. Murad Alam, a dermatologist and professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement. “Assuming the findings are confirmed in a larger study, individuals now have a low-cost, non-toxic way for looking younger or to augment other cosmetic or anti-aging treatments they may be seeking.”
Looking for the foundation of youth costs a pretty penny. The $250 billion global anti-aging market is expected to reach $331.41 billion by 2021, according to Orbis Research. The average American woman spends $8 a day on her face, or up to $300,000 in her lifetime, according to a recent survey by beauty retailer SkinStore. And facial rejuvenation procedures continue to be the most popular non-invasive cosmetic procedures, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which gave more than 7 million Botox injections in 2016.
But this concept of exercising your face has been recently taking shape with movements like Face Yoga and FaceXercise, which reportedly help maintain the elasticity and firmness of the skin on your face. Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow have reportedly gotten ready for their close-ups by following the practice.
But don’t expect facial exercises to replace fillers and actual facials just yet. Dr. Andrew Alexis, chairman of the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West, warned that practicing repetitive movements around your mouth and forehead can actually create more wrinkles.
“It’s important to note that the study strengthened the muscles of the mid-face (cheeks) by doing specific maneuvers that would strengthen those muscles and provide greater support for the fat pads and the skin the overlies that muscles — but exercising the muscles of the forehead and in between the eyebrows could actually make the face look aged,” he told Moneyish. “Raising your eyebrows up and down, or frowning, would actually make horizontal forehead lines and vertical lines between the eyebrows, as well as frown lines and the ‘parentheses’ around the mouth, actually more prominent over time.”
This Northwestern study was also done with a very small sample size of patients, so further research is needed to determine whether it would be as effective in a larger population. Plus, few people find 30 minutes in the day to hit the gym, so how many women would actually spend half an hour working out their faces — before even putting on moisturizer or makeup — when dabbing on a serum or getting an injection takes seconds?
“Some specific exercises might be beneficial and complement our current treatment approach for facial aging, particularly in the mid-face, but not replace it,” suggested Dr. Alexis.
To look your best, he recommends constant sun protection against UV radiation (which produces most of the visual signs of skin aging), as well as injections like Botox to soften and reduce the development of dynamic wrinkles like crows feet and forehead/frown lines. You can also use cosmeceutical products with antioxidants like Retinol to rejuvenate your skin, or undergo laser and light-based devices to reduce wrinkles and resurface skin.
“Regular exercise, eating well and an overall healthy lifestyle will also contribute to a more youthful appearance that complements the in-office procedures that we do to rejuvenate the skin,” he added.
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