What Is Face Yoga? And Does it Really Work?

what is yoga face cat

Jade rollers, microcurrent devices and buccal massages: We’ve tried it all in the quest for firmer, tauter skin. And face yoga is no different. Once we got wind of its popularity among celebs during awards season (Meghan Markle herself has credited it for sculpting her cheeks and jawline) we were curious. Does face yoga actually work and, more importantly, does it involve holding tree pose?

What is face yoga?

You can put away your mat, y’all. As it turns out, face yoga does not involve actual yoga poses. It’s just a catchier way of describing a set of facial exercises or repetitive movements you can do to tone the muscles beneath your skin.

What are the benefits of face yoga?

According to Fumiko Takastu, who is the founder of The Face Yoga Method, it’s a completely natural alternative to anti-aging remedies that not only tone your facial muscles, but also increases circulation and blood flow, which results in a more youthful and radiant complexion.

And if that all sounds like it’s a little too good to be true, consider the other benefit of practicing face yoga: releasing any tension that’s held in our faces throughout any given day. (Who else just unclenched their jaws a little?)

There’s also the self-care component of intentionally setting aside some time to make funny faces into a mirror. We dare you not to smile while blowing out raspberries repeatedly or moving your mouth from side to side in an exaggerated motion a la Jim Carey in The Mask.

In fact, one common face yoga move involves actually smiling widely, which is supposed to help lift your jawline; though there is limited research behind that particular claim, studies have shown that the simple act of smiling can trick your mind into thinking that you are happier than you actually are. (Who else just grinned maniacally to themselves just now?)

Does face yoga work?

That depends on who you ask. Again, as of publication, there are limited studies on the efficacy of face yoga, so if we’re going strictly by science here, you may want to sit this one out.

However, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence (exhibit A: Meghan Markle) that it can increase cheek fullness, which, in turn, makes your face look more youthful and lifted because sagging is partially caused by a loss of muscle and fat in your face as you age. Le sigh.

Also, unlike most other beauty treatments, face yoga won’t cost you a single penny. It requires zero additional tools or products, which also eliminates any worries you might have around skin sensitivities or possible allergic reactions. All you need is some time and steadfast dedication.

How long does face yoga take to see results?

For best results, you’ll want to practice face yoga every single day for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes a day for five months. So yeah, we’re talking serious dedication and patience here. Just like exercising your body, consistency is key to success with face yoga.

And lest you think we arbitrarily pulled those numbers from some TikTok video, they’re actually from one of very few studies conducted by Northwestern University on the impact of facial exercise. The 2018 study tracked participants between the ages of 40 and 65, who were instructed to do facial exercises for 30 minutes every day for the first eight weeks of the study, and then every other day for the remaining 12 weeks. After the 20 weeks were up, the women and the dermatologists involved in the study noted a slight increase in cheek fullness, thereby giving off a more youthful appearance overall.

OK, I’m in. What are some face yoga moves I can try at home?

Just as there are many different ways to work out your core (we’re team plank here), there are many different moves for targeting your face muscles as well. However, for the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on a few of the key moves that were prescribed in the study.

1. The Cheek Lifter

Open your mouth wide into the shape of an O. Suck your upper lip in so it covers your front teeth and smile to lift your cheek muscles. Now place your index fingers on top of your cheeks, directly underneath your eyes. Relax your cheek muscles, then smile again to push your cheeks back up. (Your fingers are there to guide you and ensure that you feel your muscles moving during this movement.) Repeat the lifting and releasing 10 times, making sure to hold your smile for 20 seconds on the last rep. That’s one set; you’ll want to do three sets total.

2. The Brow Lifter

Take your index, middle and ring fingers and press them under each of your brows, as if you were forcing your eyes open. Now smile as you try to lower your brows against your fingers. (This should feel weird.) As you hold this position, close your eyes and roll them back toward the top of your head. (It helps to visualize the movement in your head.) Hold this pose for 20 seconds; release and repeat three more times.

3. The Neck Releaser

Keeping your shoulders down and relaxed, tilt your chin up to the ceiling until you feel a nice stretch in your neck. Next, open your mouth and fold your lower lip in as you push your lower jaw forward. While keeping this position, slowly scoop your jaw up, one inch at a time. As you scoop up, open and close your mouth, tilting your head backward each time. By your 10th scoop, your chin should be pointing up at the ceiling. Hold this pose for 20 seconds; repeat three times.

4. The Cheek Sculptor

Smile widely without showing your teeth and push your lips out. You should feel the corners of your mouth lifting from the effort here. Now gather your index and middle fingers and press them into the corners of your mouth, gradually sliding them up toward your cheekbones as you gently press down into the muscles. When you get to the tops of your cheekbones, hold this position for 20 seconds and keep holding your smile. You should feel the muscles tightening in your cheeks as you do this. Repeat three times.

5. The Temple Relaxer

Press your index and middle fingertips firmly into your temples. Now close your jaw and clench your teeth together as you tilt your chin up toward the ceiling. As you clench your teeth, think about trying to move your ears backward. (It’s a strange sensation, we know.) Hold this pose for 10 seconds, then clench your teeth back down and hold for another 10 seconds. You should feel the muscles in your temples clench each time. Relax and repeat three times.

A final word on face yoga:

Face yoga can be a nice addition to your regimen, but it’s not meant to replace the core pillars of your skincare routine (like proper cleansing, moisturizing and sun protection). Also on that note, if you’re acne-prone, it’s always a good idea to make sure that your hands are completely clean before you touch your face. As you may already know, your hands carry all sorts of dirt, oil, and bacteria that can clog pores and lead to breakouts if you’re not careful.

OK, if you need us, we’ll be practicing “the cheek lifter” in our bathroom.

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Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...