Facial Yoga: Anti-Aging?

Could facial yoga actually stimulate anti-aging properties? A recent ABC
article
stirs up the age-old
practice of facial exercises
to reduce aging, framed in 21st
century packaging: Facial
Yoga
. Proponents allege it tones and
lifts facial muscles and claim it’s “scientifically proven” to “help prolong the
production of collagen and elastin, which makes your face firm and springy.” Yet
despite the claim to scientific legitimacy, no research has been conducted on
the impact of facial exercises on aging skin.

Intuitively, it
seems to make sense; working other muscles in the body renders them toned and
taught, so why not the facial muscles? Facial exercises have a long history of
adherents, from Cleopatra to French
Courtesans
. In the modern era, Jack
Lalanne
was a devotee of “facenastics,” while Bodyflex guru Greer
Childers
promoted “face exercises” derived from yoga (for example, the Lion
exercise
).

Childers
promoted her facial exercises in the 1990s by citing a “renowned plastic
surgeon” who claims they “slow down signs of aging.” Similarly, a dermatologist
to the stars is cited as adding legitimacy to facial yoga in the recent
article; he recommends yoga for the face to his patients, claiming that it
promotes collagen production.

Yet the new
facial yoga wave claims to be different than their facial-exercising forebears;
“If you just made weird squirmy faces randomly you’d get more wrinkles,” claims
facial yoga developer Annelise Hagen (a quick web search unearths several who
claim to have founded “facial yoga”). Thus facial yoga aims to stimulate
muscles by contorting the facial muscles without causing wrinkles. Poses
include
“lion face,” “fish face,” and “satchmo.”

Does it actually
work? Devotees claim thousands of fans can’t be wrong; glowing testimonials
populate most websites, with many swearing by the practice. Yet most
dermatologists, including Dr. Francis
Papay
, are unconvinced. First, there is the lack of science. And secondly,
given the physiology of the skin, the claims don’t make sense.

Papay notes that
rather than remedy, heavily-used muscles are the cause of most wrinkles, including crow’s feet and frown lines. For
example, those sustaining a stroke that paralyzes half of the face will have
the presentation of a smoother, less wrinkly face on the paralyzed side than
the active side. Similarly, Botox injections eradicate the appearance of
wrinkles by paralyzing muscles that cause wrinkles. Papay acknowledges that
neck exercises, however, could potentially tone muscles that tighten skin along
the neck and lower jaw.

Despite claims for scientific legitimacy, then, facial
yoga’s anti-aging benefits are probably over-hyped. Yet that’s not to say it’s
without benefit; the effects simply haven’t yet been assessed scientifically.
For adherents who claim to derive significant benefit, there are likely
positive benefits that relate to any form of yoga practice: Increased clarity,
relaxation, improvement in mood, and that rosy glow one acquires after
breathing deeply and moving any part of the body.

Do you practice “facial yoga” or exercises?

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