Facial yoga has been around for decades, although there's been a bit more buzz since a study published last month claimed to find that people who got lessons in face yoga ended up looking slightly younger. But there's plenty of reason to be sceptical.
Screengrab from YouTube/The Vitalitist.
There aren't any large studies asking the hard questions about whether face yoga actually works in the long run. The recent study had some serious flaws: there was no control group, we don't know what else the women were doing with their faces (for example, were they extra-inspired to use moisturizer after spending so much time looking at their faces in the mirror?), and a lot of them dropped out.
Originally there were supposed to be 33 subjects, but six decided not to do the study and another 11 quit partway through. The facial yoga regimen involved two 90-minute training sessions, and then subjects were asked to do the exercises for 30 minutes every day for the first eight weeks, then every other day.
That's a huge time commitment for something that might not work. The study found a slight improvement in how old the women appeared; they actually had an average age of 53, but observers guessed that their photos made them look 51 at the beginning of the study and 48 at the end.
Did the exercises really take three years off their face? Maybe, but I wouldn't start a 30-minutes-a-day regimen on that flimsy basis.
There are plenty of places to learn face yoga, often for profit. The program used in the study was Happy Face Yoga and you'll need to fork over $US25 ($31) for a DVD if you'd like to see how it's done. There are free videos like this one on YouTube from other instructors, but we don't have any data on whether they work.
Could they work? Maybe. Cosmetic chemists Randy Scheuller and Perry Romanowski couldn't find a dermatologist who believed the theory that facial exercises increase collagen production, one of the claims of face yoga instructors. They did find a researcher who had electrically stimulated people's face muscles and found a skin tightening effect, but that's not really the same thing.
Korin Miller at Self got a variety of answers from dermatologists about face yoga, but none endorsed it. One suggested working on the muscles that lift and widen your face (for example, the ones you use when you look surprised) just so they don't get too weak.
Another told her that your skin gets the fewest wrinkles when you just don't move it. Ever. So ... you could try not moving your face, I guess? Which sounds like the opposite of face yoga.
Some dermatologists say face yoga could actually cause the wrinkles it's aiming to prevent, but the truth is we don't know anything about face yoga's long term effects. Maybe it can reverse wrinkles, or maybe it will speed their formation. Until there is better data, use your gut to decide whether it's worth spending 30 minutes making funny faces at yourself in a mirror.