Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Stop Doing Those Facial Exercises! Give Yourself a Facial Massage Instead April 11, 2011

A while back a college friend of mine contacted me via Facebook to tell me that she was doing facial exercises nightly in order to maintain and improve her appearance and thought that she was getting good results.  But she was wondering if perhaps she was just seeing things and if facial exercises actually work.  I quickly emailed her back with a link to Paula Begoun’s take on facial exercise which, in a word, is that they are bogus. 

What are facial exercises anyhow?  I’ll quote from the book The Yoga Facelift in order to explain:

Facial expressions that reflect worry, unhappiness, and anger have a way of becoming permanent.  The good news is that we are not stuck with what we see in the mirror – if we don’t like what we see, we can change it.  There are a number of ways we can effect change.  First of all, from a purely physical stand-point, exercises do a lot to counteract the effects of time and gravity.  Over time our muscles lengthen as gravity pulls ever downward, causing the sagging we start to see everywhere in our faces; eyes start to droop, foreheads and cheeks sag, and jowls start to form until it’s almost like watching a snowman melt in slow motion.  Exercising shortens muscles, and so we end up with tighter, firmer faces as we tone the musculature underneath.  This method of addressing sagging is far superior to plastic surgery, the other option, because it actually improves your appearance over time. 


Sounds rather persuasive, doesn’t it?  The program outlined in this book takes an hour to perform and you need to do that hour long program once a day for about three months before you can go on a maintenance program that only requires you to do facial exercises for 10 to 15 minutes a day.  I tried a number of the exercises in the book just for fun.  Some were strange, uncomfortable, and difficult to do while others were just relaxing.  Truthfully even if I did believe that facial exercises worked I certainly don’t have a free hour each day to perform them.  But even if you do have that amount of free time to devote to facial exercises don’t waste your time!  Here’s why (I like how Paula Begoun explains why facial exercises don’t work so I’ll quote her here):

For the most part, facial exercises are more a problem for skin than a help. Facial exercises provide little or no benefit because loss of muscle tone is not a major cause of wrinkles or sagging skin. In fact, muscle tone is barely involved in these at all. The skin’s sagging and drooping are caused by four major factors:

  1. Deteriorated collagen and elastin (due primarily to sun damage);
  2. Depletion of the skin’s fat layer (a factor of genetic aging and gravity);
  3. Repetitive facial movement (particularly true for the forehead frown lines and for smile lines from the nose to the mouth);
  4. Muscle sagging due to the loosening of facial ligaments that hold the muscles in place.

Facial exercise is not helpful for worn-out collagen, elastin, or the skin’s fat layer, because none of that is about the muscles. It is especially not helpful for the lines caused by facial movement! Instead, facial exercises only make those areas appear more lined. The reason Botox injections into the muscles of the forehead and facial lines work to create a smoother face is because Botox prevents the muscles from moving!

Facial exercises won’t reattach facial ligaments; that is only possible via surgery. One procedure in a surgical face-lift is to re-drape the muscle of the cheek and the jaw, drawing it back and then literally stitching it back in place where it used to be. Exercise doesn’t reattach the ligaments, it just tones the sagging.

The ads for facial exercises often tout the fact that the facial muscles are the only muscles in the body that insert (or attach) into skin rather than into bone. They then use this fact to explain why, if you tone facial muscles, they directly affect the appearance of the skin. What this doesn’t say is that skin movement is one of the things that causes the skin to sag. If you are doing facial exercises and can see your skin move or frown lines and laugh lines look more apparent, it only makes matters worse.

 Now if doing facial exercises relax you after a long day then that is the only time I am all for them.  If you really want to do your skin and face some good consider giving yourself a nightly facial massage.  By giving yourself a short facial massage you are able to release tension that you hold in your face, relax, destress, relieve muscle pain, and make yourself feel good.  A facial massage also stimulates blood flow to your face and helps with your circulation.

In my opinion the easiest facial massage you can do on yourself is a pressure point massage.  Take your index fingers and gently make about 15 circles on the pressure point.  See the photos below for some ideas of where you can find pressure points on your face.  Only press as hard as you feel comfortable.  The idea is relax not hurt yourself.  I hold a lot of tension in my jaw so I particularly like to rub that pressure point.  A pressure point massage can be performed on any skin type even on someone with acne.  You can do it while watching TV.  Give it a try – you won’t regret it!


12 Responses to “Stop Doing Those Facial Exercises! Give Yourself a Facial Massage Instead”

  1. rhealyn Says:

    with my current disposition, i would need facial massage more than ever..thanks

  2. Cecil Says:

    Using Botox over a long period of time can cause muscles to waste away and this could eventually lead to a more drooping and aged look, especially around the eyes. This kind of treatment does not give you long lasting effect but instead may give you problems with swallowing, speaking and breathing. The simple fact remains that we do not know enough about the side effects of Botox in the long term.

  3. Janice Cáceres Says:

    Sorry. I disagree with both you and Paula on facial exercises, although I also do facial massage. Actually, I disagree with Paula on most things. I’m a long term facial exerciser and the difference between pictures when I was in my 40’s and pictures (and reality) now is significant, especially through the jaw line and cheek area. I’m realistic; I know it will not rebuild collagen, but the toning and lifting effects, as well as a “glow”, have been subtle, albeit noticeable. At almost 60, I’ll keep it up, thank you very much.

  4. Emily Says:

    Im sooooo confused

  5. Sara Says:

    I disagree with what you are telling here.
    I have a long list of disagreements, but don’t have time to write them all.
    1- massage improves blood circulation and exersizing not? Wrong!!
    2- wrinkles are formed from skin movement??? How does the skin move on it’s own?? ..etc..
    ..bottom line I did fill my 11 lines with the facial moves I have developed. I am almost 40, and in very short time, my mom noticed my face looks great….imagine I was talking to her using Skype, she is overseas…

    • Min Says:

      reply to point 2: I have seen some facial exercise tutorials where it is said that you need to lift your head, stretch your neck as hard as you can and kiss the air many times. I guess kissing the air on a regular basis many times will develop wrinkles around your lips, just like drinking from a straw is not recommended for the same reason (obviously I am not talking about a one off event)

    • brooke Says:

      Hi sarah, what are the exercises you developed for the 11 lines?

  6. arshia Says:

    Sorry i don’t agree with your comment because facial exercise increases blood circulation how it can be less useful.

  7. Nora Ford Says:

    I also am almost 60 and started doing facial yoga and have experienced wonderful results. My skin is much tighter and my eyes look much better. I think a combination of massage and exercise work will together.

  8. Antonio Says:

    I read that muscle exercise is good at angiogenesis, and actually stimulates collagen production, plus when we say facial exercise we only mean isotonic exercises, not squinting eyes or forcing smiles insisting on what co-causes wrinkles and sagging.

  9. […] exercises.  Please don’t get me started on why facial exercises are a waste of time; read this post of mine instead.   There is very little truth to some of the skin science she writes about. […]

  10. […] make this part of the moisturizing process. All you have to do is use your fingers and thumbs to gently massage the area between your eyebrows. Doing this helps to relax the skin in the area which in turn helps to reduce the appearance of […]

Leave a Reply to rhealyn Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s