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Face Exercise: How to do a Complete Facial Workout!

Face exercises, also called “face yoga”, “face firming”, “face lifting” or “facial resistance training”, are exercises designed to tone and strengthen the 55 muscles of the face to give you a natural non-invasive face lift without surgery.

Why would you want to tone your face muscles? Because the muscles that sit underneath the skin provide it with support, and when those muscles become weak through disuse, they start to atrophy or waste away. Once that happens, the skin can start to sag due to gravity, and develop fine lines and wrinkles as a result of declining collagen levels.

By strengthening your facial muscles however, you can help to slow down this process by keeping the skin tight and firm. Furthermore, face exercises will also stimulate the production of collagen, so you should notice a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles too.

Another benefit of doing face exercises is that they increase the flow of blood to the skin. With improved blood circulation, your face will appear more radiant as its complexion or skin tone will be improved.

face exercise woman

Hold back the signs of facial aging with face exercises.

Exercising the muscles of the face also serves to stimulate the lymphatic system that sits underneath the skin. This system relies entirely upon movement for it to operate, and is what’s responsible for removing waste and toxins from the body.

So by doing face exercises on a regular basis, you will also help to improve the clarity of your skin so that you suffer from less spots, pimples and discolorations.

In the video below, Jack LaLanne, then aged 88, discusses the benefits of doing facial gymnastics and how they can keep you looking young.

The overall result of doing facial exercises is a natural face lifting effect that produces a younger and more attractive looking you. And this is exactly what you shall learn how to do in this guide, as we discuss the different types of face exercises for the different parts of the face.

The Muscles of the Face

Below is a picture that shows the muscles of the face. You may find it helpful to look at this picture when doing your face lifting exercises, as it will allow you to better visualize the specific muscles that you are working out.

muscles of the face

Face exercises strengthen the muscles of the face, and also stimulate collagen and elastin production.

1: Occipitofrontalis

2: Levator labii superioris

3: Zygomaticus minor

4: Zygomaticus major

5: Buccinator

6: Levator anguli oris

7: Depressor labii inferioris

8: Temporalis

9: Procerus

10: Orbicularis oculi

11: Levator labii superioris alaeque nasi

12: Orbicularis oris

13: Masseter

14: Depressor anguli oris

15: Mentalis

16: Platysma

The following picture shows some of the lines that can appear on the face as a result of normal aging:

lines on face

There are many regions on the face that the signs of aging can show.

Just for interest, the picture below shows a Chinese face map. The Chinese believe that you can tell a lot about the health of the body simply by looking at the face. So there may be some other benefits to doing face exercises in addition to the benefits that it has on your skin.

chinese face map

The Chinese believe that organs can be mapped to the face.

How to Make Face Exercises Work

In order for any type of face exercise to be effective, your muscles must be stimulated past a “critical threshold“. Below this threshold, face exercises are largely ineffective.

The easiest way to determine whether you have passed the critical threshold, is to look out for a mild burning or stinging sensation in your muscles after doing your workout.

This sensation is due to the build up of lactic acid, and indicates that your muscles have been sufficiently stressed for them to grow and develop stronger. You can get rid of this burning sensation simply by massaging the affected area.

Most of the face exercises on this page are isometric face exercises, as they are based on the principle of contracting and relaxing your muscles in order to increase their strength. It is this muscle contraction and relaxation that gives you the burn when doing face lifting exercises.

lifting dumbell

Bodybuilders eat protein rich foods immediately after a workout to maximize muscle growth. You should follow a similar principle when doing face exercises, by doing them shortly before or after a meal.

Bodybuilders know that after a workout they should eat foods rich in protein, as this allows the muscles to grow bigger and repair themselves. Normally, this is done within 30 minutes after a workout.

You can therefore maximize the benefits you get from face exercises by doing them shortly before or after you eat. Doing this will provide the muscles you have just exercised with the protein (amino acids) they need.

Face Exercise Preparation & Skin Care

Facial exercises are, for many people, a way to hold back the signs of aging without having to resort to facelift plastic surgery.

As a result, it’s not uncommon for age conscious individuals to incorporate face exercises into their regular anti-aging skin care routine, as this way they can tackle aging with both cosmetics and with exercise.

face exercise newspaper clip

Face exercises are not just a “modern fad”.

Before you begin doing face exercises, there are a few things that you should do to prepare first:

Wash your hands

As you will be touching your face with your fingers, always make sure that your hands have been properly cleansed with soap. Touching your face with dirty hands will transfer bacteria to the face, which could then cause an outbreak of spots and pimples to develop.

Cleanse and moisturize your face

If you get into the habit of washing and cleansing your face before you do your face exercises, you’ll find it much easier to fit them into your schedule as you will be incorporating them into your normal everyday skincare routine.

After your face has been cleansed, apply a light moisturizer. This is important, because by keeping your skin moist you will reduce the likelihood of it forming micro-creases which could develop into unwanted fine lines.

Below we look at some of the different types of face exercises that you can now try:

Forehead

forehead

Forehead face exercises.

Exercising your forehead muscles (occipitofrontalis/frontalis muscle) can be very beneficial in helping to maintain a younger looking appearance. This is because when your forehead starts to sag it can also cause your upper eyelids to sag, which can then make your face look old and tired.

By keeping your forehead skin nice and tight, you can therefore make your face look more refreshed and awake without having to undergo a surgical face lift, brow lift or Botox. If you have very saggy upper eyelids however, you may require upper eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) in order to obtain satisfactory results.

The following routine targets the lower forehead in addition to the upper region of the eyebrows.

• Place one finger horizontally across the top of each eyebrow and pull down slightly.

• Raise your eyebrows working against the resistance created by the weight of your fingers.

• Hold momentarily, and then lower your eyebrows again.

 Repeat 20 times.

When doing this sequence, remember to look out for the “burn” as that will indicate that you are doing the exercise correctly.

Forehead face exercise 2

This routine targets the mid and upper forehead regions.

• Place four fingers vertically at the sides of the forehead, just above the end of your eyebrows and in front of your temples.

• Stretch your forehead tight.

• Raise and lower your eyebrows.

• Repeat 20 times.

The skin between your eyebrows

The following routine targets the corrugator supercilii muscle and the procerus muscle.

This exercise can be beneficial for those who have worry lines or glabellar lines as a result of frowning or scowling a lot. These lines between the eyebrows can cause you to look angry or unhappy, even though you may not actually be feeling that way.

• Place four fingers horizontally across each eyebrow.

• Pull the eyebrows away from each other so that you pull the skin gently towards the temples.

• Now try to bring your eyebrows together, working against the resistance created by your fingers. You should eventually feel a burn in the center of your forehead, in your “third eye”.

• Repeat 10 times.

Although this sequence can be a little tricky to master, once you get the hang of it, you should start noticing fewer lines and a lifting effect of the skin between your eyebrows.

Special note concerning forehead wrinkles

Note: The forehead often contains the deepest wrinkles on the entire face, and this is especially true in males. However, these lines are not really true wrinkles but rather “expression lines” or “character lines” as they are sometimes called.

Forehead exercises tend not to be that effective when dealing with expression lines. To reduce the appearance of such lines, you may want to consider the use of a dermal filler such as collagen, restylane or Sculptra injections.

Injectable dermal fillers are excellent at lifting depressed areas of skin, but they only provide a temporary solution. So if you do opt for this treatment, then repeated injections will be required to maintain your results.

Eyes

eyes

Face exercises for the eyes.

This is a very easy face yoga exercise that targets the whole eye area. It can be done almost anytime and anywhere, and will gently help to strengthen the muscles around eyes (i.e., the orbicularis oculi muscles).

This can improve the appearance of eye wrinkles, droopy eyelids and under eye hollows, and is a technique endorsed by Tom Hagerty at Shape Your Face.com.

Tom Hagerty

Tom Hagerty

• Close one eye as if you were doing a half wink.

• Open your eye.

• Repeat this 10-20 times for each eye.

This face exercise can also be done by closing the eye entirely, and then gently pressing the upper and lower eyelids together.

If you lightly touch the skin around your eye when doing this face workout, you should be able to feel the muscles contracting underneath the skin. These are the muscles that you are strengthening with this eye exercise, and over time they will become firmer and tighter preventing laxity or sag in that area.

Crow’s feet face exercise

Crow’s feet/periorbital lines are the fine wrinkles that develop in the skin of the outside corners of the eye. They can occur prematurely in people who smile or squint a lot, and if left untreated, can eventually develop into very deep and noticeable wrinkles.

The following face exercise can be used to prevent crow’s-feet wrinkles from appearing, or reduce the appearance of existing wrinkles.

• Place one finger vertically at the sides of each eye.

• Gently close your eyes, working against the resistance created by your fingers.

• Open your eyes.

• Repeat this 20 times.

If you are doing this face exercise correctly, you should feel your fingers being pulled in slightly towards the eye.

An alternative method is to place your fingertips in the corners of your eyes. Some people find this method to be more effective, as it allows them to place greater resistance on the orbicularis oculi muscle.

Face exercise for droopy upper eyelids

As you age your eyelids will naturally start to sag. In some cases, the eyelids can sag so much that they seem to cover most of the eyes. This can not only make a person look old, but can also give them a permanent “tired look” to their face.

The droopy eyelid exercise described below targets the levator palpebrae superioris, which is a muscle that allows you to lift your upper eyelid when you open your eyes. It also targets the corrugator muscle, which is the muscle that sits directly underneath your eyebrow.

• Place four fingers horizontally underneath the bottom of your eyebrow. Alternatively, place one finger horizontally running along the bottom of your eyebrow.

• Lower your eyebrow, pushing against the resistance created by your fingers. Hold for a count of 5.

• Raise your eyebrows.

• Repeat 20 times.

The following video featuring Cynthia Rowland, author of “The Magic of Facial Exercise“, shows how this technique is done:

Note: The exercise for droopy eyelids can be done with both eyes at the same time or with one eye individually. You may however, get better control doing one eye at a time.

Face exercise for bags under your eyes

Saggy eye bags can make a person look old and tired, and due to the loss of skin elasticity that occurs naturally with age, is something that can get progressively worse if left untreated.

eye bags

Bags underneath the eyes give the face a tired look.

The following face exercise can be used to address ptosis or drooping of the lower eyelid, although, if there is a lot of sagging present, you may require lower eyelid surgery in order to obtain noticeable results.

• Place four fingers horizontally beneath your eye, roughly in line with the middle of your nose at the end of the hollow of the eye. Alternatively, use one finger paced horizontally.

• Partially close your eye working against the resistance created by your fingers and then hold momentarily.

• Open your eye and repeat 15 times.

• Repeat for the other eye, or do both eyes simultaneously.

Note: Bags underneath the eyes can be caused by tiredness or excess fluid retention due to a high salt intake in the diet. Be sure to rule out these causes to obtain maximum benefit from your eye bag workout.

Nose

nose

Face exercise for the nose.

The nasalis muscle sits across the bridge of the nose. There are two parts to the nasalis muscle; the compressor naris which allows you to compress your nostrils together, and the dilator naris which allows you to flare your nostrils.

The effect of sagging skin on the nose can cause nose wrinkles. These tend to first appear on the sides of the nose, and then later above the bridge of the nose where it forms the T-zone.

In older adults, wrinkles can also appear along the top of the nose if there is a lot of sagging skin or if a person has thick nose skin. In such cases, Botox can be used to treat these nose wrinkles.

Note: If you are considering rhinoplasty (a.k.a., a nose job), please see this guide on rhinoplasty cosmetic surgery.

Nose thinning face yoga

The following nose thinning exercise can be used to create a thinner and smaller nose. It’s important to note though, that this won’t actually change the shape of your nose as that is largely determined by the underlying bone structure.

Alternative nose exercise:

• Place your finger or thumb underneath the tip of your nose.

• Lift your nose up slightly with your finger or thumb.

• Press your nose down working against the resistance of your finger or thumb.

• Repeat 20 times.

This nose exercise can also be done by pinching your nostrils closed with one hand, and then flaring them open against the resistance of your pinch.

Facial exercise for nasolabial folds

You can help to lessen the appearance of nasolabial folds with the following routine:

• Open your mouth as wide as you can vertically. You want to move your upper teeth as far as possible from your lower teeth in a vertical direction.

• Look upwards towards the ceiling.

• Hold this position for a count of 20 seconds, and you should start to feel a burn running down the sides of your nose where the nasolabial folds are found.

This nasolabial fold exercise can be found in Carol DiMaggio’s face exercise program.

Cheeks

cheeks

Face exercises for the cheeks.

This following face exercises can be used to tone up your cheeks, as they will target the muscles that run across your cheek and also the muscles that surround your mouth (i.e., the levator labii superioris, zygomaticus minor, zygomaticus major and orbicularis oris).

Exercising your cheek muscles is very important because they play a big role in the formation of facial expressions. If your cheeks sag for example, then this can cause the corners of your mouth to turn downwards and make it look as though you are sad or unhappy.

The following video shows Annelise Hagen, author of “The Yoga Face“, demonstrating a variety of cheek lifting exercises:

Upper cheek exercise

• Place your fingers horizontally on the top of your cheeks just beneath your eyes.

• Smile, moving the corners of your mouth upwards.

• As you smile and lift your cheeks you should feel the resistance created by the weight of your fingers.

• Hold momentarily and then relax.

• Repeat 20 times.

Middle cheek exercise

• Place one finger from each hand horizontally across the middle of your cheek, roughly at the level of the end of your nose.

• Smile and raise the corners of your mouth upwards.

• You will know when you have the right place because you will feel the muscles of your cheeks lift your fingers up.

• Hold momentarily and then relax.

• Repeat 20 times.

Note: When exercising your cheeks there is no need to scrunch up your face, as all you are aiming for is to gently lift your fingers with your cheek muscles. So the first few times you do this, have a look in the mirror to check that you aren’t creasing your skin.

Face yoga for chubby cheeks

The following video shows a face exercise called the “cheek fat flattener” for sculpting flabby or chubby cheeks. It exercises the orbicularis oris around your mouth, the zygomatic arch muscle above your cheek bone and the modiolus muscles on either side of your mouth.

• Trap some air in your mouth so that you can expand one of your cheeks.

• Move the trapped air to behind your bottom lip, then to your other cheek and then behind your upper lip.

• Continue moving the air around your mouth, holding for a count of 3 at each position.

The good thing about this chubby cheeks exercise is that you can do it anywhere and at anytime. So if you are stuck at the traffic lights in your car, why not give this exercise a go to kill some time?!

Mouth

lips

Face exercises for the mouth and lips.

This mouth exercise will firm the muscles around your mouth (buccinator and orbicularis oris muscles), which, over time, will help to give your mouth and lips a fuller looking appearance. Best of all, it will exercise the same muscles that the facial flex face exerciser targets but at no cost!

• Place one finger from each hand inside the corners of your mouth, as though you had hooks in your mouth corners.

• Pull the mouth slightly apart.

• Now pull your mouth closed (sideways), working against the resistance created by the pull of your fingers.

• Relax.

• Repeat this 30-50 times.

The good thing about this particular face exercise, is that by working out the orbicularis oris muscle you will also be working out many other muscles of the face. As shown in the picture below for example, the muscles in your cheeks, upper lip, lower lip, chin, jowls and neck will also be exercised.

The benefits of this are a reduced appearance/development of nasolabial folds, oral commissures (downturned mouth), perioral lines and smile lines.

facial flex face exerciser

You can use your fingers to exercise the same muscles as the facial flex face exerciser would.

Mouth corners

This routine targets the corners of your mouth, and so helps to prevent the mouth corners from sagging downwards and affecting your facial expression. Sagging mouth corners make you look unhappy when your mouth is closed.

• Gently grab the inside corners of your mouth with your thumb and finger.

• Your finger will be inside your mouth, your thumb will be outside on top. You can also do this the other way around, with your thumb inside and your finger outside.

• Open and close your mouth (sideways), working against the resistance created by your fingers.

• Repeat this 20 times.

This is a similar face exercise to the one previously described. But because you are applying more resistance to your mouth corners, your mouth will get a stronger workout with this routine.

Luscious lips exercise

Here is something specifically for your lips to make them look fuller and younger. You will know if you have done this lip exercise correctly as your lips will have a slight burn to them after you have finished your repetitions.

Alternative method:

• Purse your lips together and extend them outwards.

• With your lips pursed tightly, open and close them like a goldfish.

• Repeat 20 times.

Try to find your own limit when doing this lip shaping exercise, as it can be quite tough to do on the first few occasions. You should however, find it easier with subsequent attempts and be able to do more repetitions.

Jowls

jowls

Facial exercise for the jowls.

This face exercise targets the jowls. When your jowls sag, it makes the lower face appear to droop downwards over the jaw line. This can make a person look prematurely aged, and can also affect the overall character and expression of the face.

• Place four fingers from each hand along the jaw line.

• You should place your pinky finger in line roughly where the corner of your mouth ends (still on your jaw line).

• Smile so that you move the corners of your mouth upwards.

• When you do this correctly, you should feel the muscle under your fingers pulling up slightly.

• Repeat this 20 times.

Lower-face lift exercise

The following video shows how to do a lower-face lift exercise that targets the platysma and sternomastoid muscles at the front of your neck and the mentalis muscles on your chin. It will help to create a more defined jaw line with reduced sagging of the jowls.

• Open your mouth and drop your lower jaw towards the floor.

• Push your jaw forward so that you feel a tension in your cheeks near the ears. Hold for a count of 10.

• Draw your jaw inwards.

• Repeat 10 times.

Jowl exercises can be difficult to master, as some people find it hard to locate the muscles of the jowl. Furthermore, jowl muscles also tend to be quite weak and underdeveloped in comparison to the other muscles of the face, which can then make it difficult to know whether or not you are exercising them.

With practice however, your jowl muscles will become stronger and you will find this exercise easier to do. When that happens, droopy jowls will slowly become firmer and tighter with less droop.

Chin

chin

Face exercises for the chin.

A double chin is caused by a combination of excess fat around the chin and jaw line, and excess loose sagging skin due to elastin depletion and poor muscle tone. This extra or lax skin can make it appear as though a person has two chins due to the large wrinkle or fold that the hanging skin creates.

People with a double chin are usually overweight, although, this isn’t always the case as skinny people can also have a double chin. But either way, having a double chin will make you look as though you are overweight even if the rest of your body can’t be seen.

Chin and jaw toner

The following video shows how to tone your chin and jaw. It exercises the following muscles: hyoglossus, genioglossus, stylohyoid, styloglossus, palatoglossus, mylohyoid, omohyoid, anterior and posterior digastric, thyrohyoid, medial and lateral pterygoid, platysma, sternocleidomastoid, semispinalis, splenius and longissimus capitis and trapezius.

By strengthening these muscles, you will tighten up the skin on your chin and neck line and stop it from being so loose and flabby.

• Lift your head and tilt it back with your chin pointing towards the ceiling.

• Push your jaw forward so that you feel a stretch underneath the chin. Hold for a count of 10.

• Whilst holding this position, slowly lower your chin a few inches and then slowly lift it back up again. Keep your head in a straight line as you do this. Repeat 20 times.

Note: In order to fully get rid of a double chin, you must also lose weight because a double chin is caused by both loose skin and excess fat accumulation. So if you only do face exercises, you will only be addressing one part of the problem. The best way to lose weight is to go on a carbohydrate restricted diet.

Chin lift exercise 2

• Place your thumb at the bottom of your chin, so that it’s on the skin above your chin bone. You will be in a position as though you were sucking your thumb.

• Now lower your chin without moving your head, working against the resistance created by your thumb. You should feel the mentalis muscle pushing down on your thumb when you do this.

• Raise your chin.

• Repeat this 50 times.

This chin exercise can also be done without using your fingers or thumb, although it is more effective when you are pushing against some form of resistance. You will know when you are doing this exercise correctly, as you will feel the muscle on your chin pushing against your finger and pushing it downwards.

Chin lift exercise 3

The following chin exercise is a bit more challenging, but it’s very effective at helping to firm and tone up the chin line.

• Place the palm of your hand underneath the bottom of your chin, so that your palm is facing upwards as though you were resting your chin on your palm.

• Now push up gently with your palm.

• Against the resistance created by your palm, lower and raise your jaw as though you were making a chewing motion.

After a few repetitions, you should feel the muscles in your lower chin area being worked out. Do as many reps as you can, and gradually build up the amount of reps that you do each day.

Note: This exercise can also be done using your fist instead of your palm.

Chin exercise 4

With this chin exercise you don’t need to use your hands, so it’s something that you can do quickly anytime you have a few spare moments to kill.

• Lower your chin down onto your chest and push down hard.

• Keeping your chin on your chest, move your head from side to side.

• Repeat this 20 times.

This facial exercise will help to tone up both your chin and your neckline, although some people find it an uncomfortable face exercise to do.

Neck

neck

Face exercise for the neck.

This neck exercise will prevent or reverse sagging skin on the neckline, sometimes called a “turkey neck”, by targeting the platysma muscle.

• Open your mouth wide, pulling the corners of your mouth downwards towards your neck (not with your hands).

• As you do this you should feel your neck muscles tighten, and if you touched your neck, you would be able to feel your neck muscles tense up.

• Hold for a moment.

• Relax.

• Repeat 5-10 times.

You will know if you are doing it correctly as you will be able to see the muscles of your neck contract if you were watching yourself in a mirror. The beginning of the video above shows what this would look like.

Neck firming exercise 2

This neck lift exercise targets your whole neck, but is especially beneficial for the muscles on the sides of your neck.

• Lie down on the floor on your back.

• Raise your head slightly off the floor.

• Turn your head from side to side, trying to touch your shoulders with your chin.

• Repeat this 20 times.

This is a very effective neck exercise and was often performed by Jack LaLanne. It can however, cause a pain in the neck if you try to do too many repetitions at once. So it’s best to build up gradually by increasing the number that you do slowly over time.

Neck firming exercise 3

This neck exercise targets your whole neck, but is especially beneficial for the strip of your neck that runs directly below your chin and along your throat (turkey neck).

• Lie down on the floor on your back.

• Raise your head slightly off the floor.

• With your head raised, try to touch your chest with your chin.

• Turn your head from side to side, keeping your chin close to the chest.

• Repeat this 20 times.

This neck exercise is virtually identical to the previous one just described. The only difference is that you are keeping your chin on your chest as you move your head from side to side.

Neck exercise 4 for double chin

This face exercise can help to get rid of a double chin.

• Tilt your head back and push your tongue upwards into the roof of your mouth.

• Hold for a count of 10.

Neck exercise 5 for increased blood flow

The following neck exercise can be beneficial for increasing blood flow to the head and improving eyesight and brain function.

• Stand up and nod your head. Look up at the ceiling at high as possible, and then down at the floor as low as possible. Try to build up to 50 repetitions.

You can make this exercise harder by getting on your hands and knees, like a dog or a cat, and then raising your head up towards the ceiling and down towards the floor.

The angle in which your body is positioned will create an extra form of resistance that your head and neck muscles can work against, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of this exercise.

Facial Massage

face massage

A face massage increases blood circulation and stimulates the lymphatic system.

Massaging the face can be beneficial for improving your complexion, as it will help to stimulate healthy blood circulation and also stimulate the lymphatic system of the face.

To massage the face, it’s convenient to do so after moisturizing with a day cream or night cream. Simply massage your skin in a circular upwards motion, working from bottom to top in each area of the face.

What to do After Your Face Yoga Routine

Jack LaLanne, a fitness, exercise and nutritional expert and host of the Jack LaLanne show, recommends that after you finish your face exercise routine that you carry out the following steps:

• While standing up, bend over at the waist so that you head is below your heart. Or, bend over while sitting down in a chair.

• Then tap your face gently with your fingers. You can also tap and massage your hair/scalp.

Carrying out these steps will increase blood flow to the face, and so will nourish the skin with fresh oxygenated blood making it appear more vibrant and with a richer color.

Note: If you want to see more Jack LaLanne face exercise videos, please see this page.

Additions to Facial Exercises

Face exercises should be just part of your anti-aging program. So you may also want to consider the use of a topical vitamin C serum, a skin/derma roller, emu oil, hyaluronic supplements and lysine, proline and vitamin C supplements.

All of these can be very beneficial in helping to maintain a youthful looking face for as long as possible.

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