With celebrities like Meghan Markle and Gwyneth Paltrow sharing their love for face yoga, it’s become one of the latest beauty and exercise trends on social media.

Face yoga focuses on toning facial muscles to sculpt the face, improve skin health, and support mental well-being.

But what exactly is face yoga? And how does it work? Below, we’ll take a closer look at face yoga and discuss some of its potential benefits and drawbacks.

If you’d like to try face yoga, why not sign up to a course through our website?

What is face yoga?

What is face yoga?

Face yoga involves exercises that target muscles in the face through massage and repetitions of exaggerated expressions and movements.

There are 43 muscles in the face, many of which we don’t use regularly. Face yoga works by gently stretching and toning these muscles – it’s essentially a form of strength training for the face. It can also be used on the scalp, neck, and shoulders.

Face yoga is believed to bring various health benefits including strengthened muscles, improved skin health, and better functioning of the lymphatic system (which manages fluid levels in the body). It can also leave you feeling relaxed.

For maximum benefits, experts recommend performing face yoga for around 20 minutes a day, three to five days per week.

What are the potential benefits of face yoga?

What are the potential benefits of face yoga?

Research into the effects of face yoga is ongoing. However, initial studies suggest that it may offer several benefits for health. We’ll discuss some of these below…

1. Face yoga may help to tone the face

Face yoga is believed to help strengthen facial muscles. Like any form of resistance training, exercising muscles encourages them to grow and strengthen over time. This can help to tone the face and define features.

Author of The Yoga Face, Annelise Hagen, describes how “muscles lose mass and volume with age, so target exercising face muscles, as one would the body, will sculpt, firm, and plump.” She suggests that alongside the face, “people can sculpt their neck and create a carved profile.”

In this pilot study, 16 women aged 40-65 completed a 20-week facial yoga programme. Afterwards, their facial muscle mass had increased and their mid and lower-face features appeared fuller.

Another study found that when using a Pao device (designed to train muscles around the mouth) to complete facial exercises, muscle thickness increased.

2. Face yoga may boost skin health

One of the main aims of face yoga is to improve skin health and achieve a plump, glowy look.

As dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill says, “The goal of face yoga is to increase the blood and oxygen supply to your skin, which improves the life of the cell. This leads to glowing and rejuvenated skin.”

As facial muscles become larger and firmer through repeated exercise, it’s believed that, over time, this helps to smooth the skin that lies above. This scientific review found that facial exercises have the potential to boost overall complexion, maintain skin elasticity (the ability for skin to stretch and bounce back), and slow down facial ageing.

3. Face yoga may improve mental health

Another perk of face yoga is that it may help to reduce stress and improve mental health.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, most of us hold tension in our face. Spending time relaxing facial muscles (for example, unclenching the jaw or smoothing the space in between the eyebrows) can help to release some of this strain. In turn, this can help to ease headaches, encourage feelings of calm, reduce eye strain, and promote high-quality sleep – all of which are key for a healthy mind.

Just like full-body yoga, face yoga requires you to be aware of your breathing and posture. This makes it a form of mindfulness, which is known to reduce stress, improve focus, and help you stay in the present moment.

This study of older adults who completed facial movements for 30 minutes, twice a day, for 12 weeks, found their mental health had improved by the end of the programme. Their tongue strength and ability to make facial expressions increased too.

Another review suggests that doing facial muscle exercises may help to improve symptoms of depression, boost mood, and reduce levels of chronic stress.

If you’d like to reap some of these benefits, check out our introduction to mindfulness. Or, why not sign up to a well-being session on Rest Less Events?

4. Face yoga may boost circulation

There’s some evidence that completing facial exercises may improve blood flow and circulation of the lymphatic system.

An inefficient lymphatic system can cause harmful toxins to build-up in the skin, increasing the risk of acne and reducing skin elasticity. So, better circulation can help to keep skin looking and feeling healthy.

To learn more, check out our article; 6 ways to improve poor circulation.

5. Face yoga may improve confidence and self-esteem

As a form of self-care which aims to enhance appearance non-surgically, some people report feeling more confident after adding face yoga to their routine.

For example, in this pilot study, after completing a 20-week facial yoga regime, women said they felt ‘highly satisfied’ with developments in their facial features.

If you’d like to improve your confidence and self-esteem, repeating positive self-affirmations during face yoga routines can also help.

6. Face yoga may help to reduce the appearance of scars

Stretching and moving the face may help to reduce the appearance of scars.

According to Dr. Suzanne Olbricht, associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, “Massage and exercises that stretch the skin affected by scarring can make a thick scar become thinner and more pliable.”

Plastic surgeon Dr. Houtan Chobaki also suggests that facial exercises and massage after surgery can promote healing by reducing scar tissue, supporting lymphatic flow, and boosting circulation.

7. Face yoga may help to help manage symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) is a condition which affects movement of the jaw, causing pain and stiffness.

In this study of 90 patients with symptoms of TMD, a combination of face yoga with dry needling (which involves inserting acupuncture needles into muscle tissue) was found to be effective in reducing pain and improving jaw movement.

8. Face yoga is accessible

As no specialist equipment is needed, face yoga is cheap and accessible. People can do it from home and there are countless free online tutorials to follow.

No prior level of fitness is required and it can be done at any age.

Are there any drawbacks of face yoga?

Are there any drawbacks of face yoga?

While there are plenty of potential benefits of face yoga, there are some drawbacks to consider too.

One of the main limitations is the lack of research currently available. Olbricht says, “The first thing to know is that there really aren’t any good, rigorous, scientific studies that verify claims that face workouts are effective.”

For this reason, we can’t be sure of the impact of face yoga until further research has been carried out.

Other drawbacks include…

1. Progress is slow

It can take a while to see any results from face yoga, and, even if you do, they’re likely to be subtle.

Dermatologist Dr. Michael Tassavor says it can take around six to eight weeks to see results.

Plus, it can be hard to stick to face yoga exercise plans. For example, 11 out of 27 women dropped out of the pilot study mentioned above.

2. Face yoga can impact the skin in other ways

Intense movement of the face may unintentionally impact the skin in other ways.

Skin care expert Sofie Pavitt warns that for people “dealing with cystic acne, hormonal breakouts, redness, rosacea, or sensitivity, something like face yoga can exacerbate these skin conditions.”

Some experts also suggest that repetitive contraction of facial muscles, alongside massage and movement of the skin, may encourage wrinkles. While wrinkles are a natural part of ageing, this can be a downside for some.

3. Face yoga won’t be for everyone

As with any form of exercise, face yoga won’t be suitable for everyone, so it’s important to speak to your GP before starting if you have any concerns.

It’s also worth noting that if you’ve had cosmetic treatments such as dermal fillers, face yoga’s repetitive facial movements may cause them to dissolve faster.

How can I begin face yoga?

How can I begin face yoga?

If you’d like to try face yoga, simply wash your hands, straighten your posture, breathe deeply – and you’re ready to begin.

When starting out, it can be helpful to do face yoga in front of a mirror (though, you can do it anywhere). Some people like to use an oil, serum, or cream to massage into the skin throughout to further promote skin health and make the massage more enjoyable.

You can choose exercises that target specific facial muscles, or routines that involve the whole face, depending on what you want to work on. For example, if you’re hoping to reduce eye strain, you could try one of these four exercises.

YouTube has countless tutorials which can be helpful for beginners to follow. There are also various workshops, plans, and classes you can join online or in-person. Some of the most popular ones include The Face Yoga ExpertFace Gym, and Luvly.

We also have face yoga courses available through our website.

If you’d like to test the waters, below are a few exercises to try…

Lion’s breath

From a seated position lean forward and place your hands in front of you. Inhale through your nose, open your mouth, and stick out your tongue towards your chin. Exhale loudly. Repeat this up to seven times to help relax the muscles in your face and throat.

Face tapping

Using your fingertips, gently tap your face from your forehead to your jaw. Then, do the same around your neck and across your shoulders. This can help you relax and may improve circulation.

Fish face

To try this move, pout your lips, suck in your cheeks, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat this five to 10 times. This targets and tones the cheek muscles and jawline.

For more ideas, check out these 50 face yoga exercises from George Watts.

Final thoughts…

Through massage and repetitive facial movements, face yoga aims to tone the muscles in the face and boost skin health.

However, while some people find it to be a useful and enjoyable addition to their routine, more research is needed to confirm the effects of face yoga.

For further reading, head over to the fitness and exercise and fashion and beauty sections of our website. Or, why not sign up for a virtual exercise class on Rest Less Events? Alongside Dru yoga, seated yoga, and laughter yoga, there’s everything from Tai Chi and aerobic fitness to belly dancing and Pilates.

Have you tried face yoga? What do you do to maintain healthy skin? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.