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August 07, 2013 4 min read
If you think exercising is important for your body, then consider exercise for your face, too. Your face has muscles, and toned muscles will always look better than weak, flabby muscles. Unlike skeletal muscles, such as those in your biceps and hamstrings, muscles in the face are often directly attached to the skin that covers them. When these muscles lose tone and elasticity, gravity begins to pull the skin over them down, resulting in the dreaded skin sagging.
Facial skin naturally loses some of the subcutaneous fat as you age. This is also partly responsible for skin sagging. Facial exercise helps to enlarge the muscles, thereby creating natural “lift” that helps counteract the loss of subcutaneous fat. Muscles that are actively contracting (working) require many times more oxygen than inactive muscle fibers. This increases oxygenation to the surrounding tissues and skin. Increased oxygenation may help connective tissues to recover some suppleness and firmness in much the same way that regular gym exercise benefits your larger muscle groups and the surrounding skin.
As you build and tone facial muscles, the effect can be pronounced: noticeable lift in the jowls, cheekbones that appear higher and more pronounced, more open and lifted eye areas, and firmer jawlines. There are numerous exercises available to target facial muscles. Here are 5 exercises that can help to tone, tighten and strengthen your facial muscles to reveal a more youthful you.
The first exercise is for “laugh lines” around the mouth and to help target sagging skin around the mouth. This is an isometric resistance facial exercise. Press your index finger over the nasolabial fold (the “parentheses” that form between the outer corner of the mouth and the bottom corner of your nose) so that your fingertip is just touching the bottom corner of your nose, where it meets your face. Press firmly here. Try to raise your nose like a rabbit does as it sniffs, while still holding your fingertips firmly in the laugh lines. You want to press firmly enough so that you can’t really raise your nose at all. Try to do this exercise for 5 full minutes a day. You most likely won’t be able to do all 5 minutes at first, as the muscles will begin to fatigue quickly. Start with one minute and try to add one additional minute per week until you can do all five. Be careful to allow the remainder of your facial skin to be very relaxed and not furrowed or creased. You don’t want to crease your mouth, eyes, or brow while “concentrating” too hard on this exercise.
The second exercise works the muscles on the lower cheeks, jowl and around the mouth. With clean hands, place your index fingers just inside both corners of your mouth, about 2-3 inches back. Be careful not to stretch the corners of the mouth, as this would be counterproductive. Close your mouth and lips firmly against the resistance of your fingers, which are holding your lips slightly apart. An added variation here would be to slowly slide your fingers out of your mouth, but tightening your mouth very hard to prevent your fingers from being pulled out. You may need to dry your fingers several times during this part of the exercise so that your lips and cheeks retain enough “grip” to prevent your fingers from being pulled out. As your mouth works to keep you from removing your fingers, you should be able to feel your cheeks lifting and tightening. Aim for 5 minutes a day initially and try to build up to ten! The more time spent doing these exercises at first will yield faster visible results.
You may feel silly the first few times you perform these types of exercises in the mirror. It’s a bit like small children making faces at themselves in the mirror! Try flexing your facial muscles throughout the day.
The third exercise works the eye area. Close one eye (like you’re winking) but don’t squeeze it shut. You’ll notice it takes more effort to keep the one eyelid down without creasing the surrounding skin. Try to do 40-50 repetitions on each eye daily, or as many as you can before the muscles becomes fatigued and you can no longer do the exercises with proper form.
The fourth exercise is for the forehead. Lift your eyebrows high as possible, with your eyes opening very wide. An added variation here would be to lift your eyebrows high as possible placing your finder tips above your eyebrows and flex your eyebrows downward for as long as you can hold. Relax and repeat. Aim for 2 minutes daily.
The fifth exercise helps with sagging jowls. Swishing water intensely in your mouth from one cheek to the other will add tone to your facial muscles that should give you a noticeable difference in your facial tone quickly. Focus on pushing the water into both your upper cheeks, then into your lower cheek area. The idea is to push the liquid into the spaces in your upper and lower gum line so that it provides resistance to the muscles there. This exercise can also be done using air instead of water, but the water does help provide added resistance. You should begin to feel the muscles in the cheek area begin to fatigue. Consider smiling often, as this will help to tone also.
Regular massage benefits facial muscles, too! Facial massage helps to stimulate fibroblasts in skin cells to release collagen. This helps to restore natural elasticity that diminishes as we age. Facial exercise and facial massage benefit your beauty routine in other ways too, such as helping your moisturizer be more effective. Fresher, more youthful looking skin naturally is possible! As the old saying goes: You need to use it, or you’ll lose it!
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