If the idea of plastering your face with mud, smearing it with expensive creams, and signing up for Botox or a facelift doesn’t appeal to you, there’s a new way to turn back the clock on the way you look – and it needn’t cost you a cent.
This new approach lifts, firms and smooths drooping and sagging areas; tones muscles; and minimizes or softens lines and wrinkles.
At least that’s the opinion of New York yoga instructor Annelise Hagen. She developed this anti-aging facial program, so I guess she might be a little biased. But now scientists have confirmed her claims, and I wanted to find out what she recommends. . .
Ms. Hagen calls her program Yoga Face. It’s grown in popularity so much that health professionals teach it in dedicated studios, but you can also learn it from a book or on youtube.
But does facial yoga really work?
Researchers at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine decided to find out.
Look Nearly Three Years Younger
For their study, they recruited 27 women aged between 40 and 65 with facial skin damage from the sun and skin cell degeneration, and instructed them on how to do each of 32 facial exercises. The initial training required two 90-minute sessions.
Each exercise takes about a minute to perform and is tagged with a name like ‘fishy lips,’ ‘the lion’ and ‘the joker.’
For instance, for ‘the happy face nose lifter’ you place your index finger under the tip of the nose to keep it in place while folding the upper lip into the mouth for a second. Then relax. This is repeated 20 times.
After the training sessions, the participants had to practice the exercises at home for half an hour every day for eight weeks, and then every other day for another 12 weeks.
Photographs were taken beforehand, after eight weeks and at the end. Then the dermatologists assessed these photos using a standardized facial aging scale that covers 19 separate features. Participants were also asked to judge the results for themselves in a questionnaire.
Of the 16 who completed the program, the researchers found enhanced fullness in the upper and lower cheeks. At the beginning of the study, the average age of the volunteers, as indicated by the photos, was put at 50.8. At eight weeks this dropped to 49.6. After 20 weeks their age was rated at 48.1.
So the the facial yoga program took an average of 2.7 years off the age of their faces in something like four-and-a-half months.
The women themselves were highly satisfied. They saw noticeable improvements in almost all facial areas.
Reduces Visible Signs of Aging
The lead author of the article, Professor of Dermatology Dr. Murad Alam, was impressed. In his view, “Facial attractiveness and youth are associated with a smooth, full facial contour, so even a modest improvement of facial contour is a win for patients.
“There are many muscles that collectively allow movement of the cheeks, and our study showed that building these up makes the cheeks look fuller. The exercises enlarge and strengthen the facial muscles, so the face becomes firmer and more toned and shaped like a younger face.
“Now there is some evidence that facial exercises may improve facial appearance and reduce some visible signs of aging.
“Assuming that the findings are confirmed in a larger study, individuals now have a low-cost, non-toxic way for looking younger…”
As this is the first scientific study to test whether facial yoga can improve appearance, it is not known whether men would achieve the same results.
Worth The Trouble? You Decide
I’m not sure I would feel motivated enough to exercise my face more than 30 minutes a day to take three years or so off my appearance. Of course, in this study, it went to every other day after eight weeks. That might be tolerable.
Others may feel more motivated than I do. I assume the exercises have to be kept up on a long-term basis, or you lose your gains. On the other hand, maybe you keep looking younger and younger if you keep at it for a year or two – and if true, that starts to get interesting.
Given how precious my time is, I’d be more interested in spending those 30 minutes on Tai Chi or Qi Gong, which benefit the whole body, and the spirit, too.
If you want to check out facial yoga, instructions for some of the exercises are available at the Northwestern link below.