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Facial yoga: myth or miracle?

Bryn Mawr Hospital April 10, 2014 Wellness

woman performing facial yoga while looking in a hand mirrorCommercials and magazine ads are always touting creams, peels, injections and lifts as the way to retain healthy skin as you age and prevent lines or wrinkles on the face. But in recent years, a new method of anti-aging and anti-wrinkle treatments has debuted, and this one is free.

Facial yoga emphasizes exercising the muscles in your face by squeezing and releasing your lips, eyes or cheeks to relieve tension. Some say the technique is just as effective as expensive at-home or office treatments, but is it really the future of younger faces? Not exactly, explains Kara Capriotti, MD, a dermatologist at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

“Some people think exercising the facial muscles is actually good and that it will strengthen them, like you would strengthen a bicep when you lift weights,” she explains. “But it’s actually the opposite.”

According to Dr. Capriotti, furrowing your brow, frowning or stretching your facial muscles can actually make the elastin in your skin weaker because these facial exercises require it to recoil quickly in between every movement.

“Relaxing your forehead or smiling without crinkling your eyes can help prevent little wrinkles and crows feet, but manipulating the muscles in your face isn’t going to reduce wrinkles that already exist or prevent your skin from aging,” she says.

You can take steps to slow aging and decrease wrinkles or lines on the face by taking some precautionary health measures no matter what your age. Wear plenty of sunscreen when you’ll be outside or exposed to UV rays for a long period of time, and don’t neglect your face.

“Many people remember to protect their arms and legs, but neglect to put sunscreen on their face, as well,” says Dr. Capriotti. “Find a strong SPF for your face and always remember to lather up when you’ll be outside for longer than 15–20 minutes.”

Rather than trying facial yoga when you’ve already begun to see signs of aging, another recommended practice is closing your eyes and relaxing or meditating after a long day or in between meetings, practices or events. Take time to focus on relaxing your eyebrows, forehead, and jaw.