Some say if you make a funny face for too long, it might get stuck that way forever. Assuming that threat holds any merit, than facial yoga might just be every parent’s worst nightmare.
I first learned about the phenomenon of facial yoga through an episode of The Real Housewives of New York City last season, and was immediately intrigued. First, because these extreme facial contortions do not differ much from Ramona Singer’s ordinary facial expressions and second, because the practice claims to combat anti-aging—the most talked about and debated subject in beauty. So could sticking your tongue out for 60-seconds per day really have the same effect as Botox or a $6,000 chemical peel?
A quick Google search informed me that there are a plethora of facial yoga gurus out there, including Ranjana Khan, whose cameo in the aforementioned episode of RHONY was followed by the launch of her facial yoga website, rkyoga.com. Those seeking jowl rejuvenation can download her 12-minute exercise video for a mere $12.99. “It’s amazing how good it makes you feel,” Khan said to the Wall Street Journal this summer of the exercises, which she has credited for her youthful looks.
While rumour has it facial yoga can prevent and reverse the signs of aging, Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, Chief of the Division of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at Boston University Medical Center and Director of Advanced Facial Aesthetics in Chestnut Hill, MA, says that it actually does the opposite.
“It will absolutely worsen signs of aging,” he said of the increasingly popular yoga fad, explaining that overly retracting muscles could age your face perhaps twice as quickly.
“One of the reasons we get lines and wrinkles is that your skin is attached to the facial muscles. For the rest of your body it makes sense to stay fit and toned, but fat is an essential part of your face that makes you attractive and goes away as you get older.”
Some of the most common facial plastic surgery procedures, botox and fillers (as the name implies), aim to isolate muscle groups and fill them to restore collagen and eliminate muscle tone. Poses like those recommended in facial yoga loosen your muscles, he says, and will actually cause crows feet.
While the jury might remain split on facial yoga, Dr. Spiegel says that there are plenty of things you can do to be proactive about wrinkle prevention that don’t require facial yoga or plastic surgery.
“First and foremost stay out of the sun, stay hydrated, be gentle with the face and avoid smoking,” he said, “And don’t believe the latest thing you see on the Internet.”
Spiegel also recommends seeing a facial plastic surgeon every five years for a non-surgical appointment and consultation on how to maintain or rejuvenate healthy skin.
Lastly, he suggests using an herbal-based skin wash rather than soap, wearing a mechanical sunscreen (one containing titanium or zinc) and moisturizing daily with an anti-wrinkle cream beginning in your early 20s, though he says it’s never too late to start.