TikTok abounds with techniques that will supposedly keep us looking young, which seems a tad odd considering the biggest proportion of its users are under 25. Regardless, it’s full of advice about 20-step skincare routines and “anti-aging” straws (yes, you read that right). And the latest trend? Face yoga.
What is face yoga?
The idea of face yoga has been kicking about for a while – like many anti-aging trends, it gets recycled every couple of years on whatever the most popular platform is. This time, it’s TikTok, where face yoga videos have totted up over 2 billion views. But what even is face yoga?
“Face yoga is a description for exercises performed to tone and stretch facial muscles,” Dr Amy B. Lewis, a dermatologist and certified yoga instructor, told Vogue. It usually involves rubbing, stretching, or pulling different areas of the face, often with the goal of targeting specific facial muscles.
If you think that sounds a bit like like a massage, you’re not wrong. “Face yoga actually has more parallels with massage and acupuncture. It’s massaging your face more than doing yoga,” explained human movement researcher Neha Gothe, speaking to Northeastern Global News.
Does it actually work?
The proponents of face yoga claim it’s brimming with anti-aging results, all the way from giving you a youthful glow and preventing wrinkles, to lifting and sculpting your face and neck. A 2018 study from a Northwestern University team of researchers set out to find out if any of those claims were true.
The team recruited 27 participants aged between 40 to 65 years old to carry out facial exercises for 30 minutes each day for eight weeks. Once the eight weeks were up, participants then had to carry out the exercises every other day for a further 12 weeks.
According to the study’s results, participants appeared nearly three years younger at the end of the 20 weeks. The facial exercises “seemed to improve mid-face and lower face fullness,” the authors concluded.
The key word there is “seemed”. Whilst interesting, the results can’t be generalized; there was no control group, the number of participants was only small and made up exclusively of middle-aged women, and 11 of them dropped out before the end of the study. There was also no follow-up to see if any of the participants stopped the regimen after the study finished and, if so, whether any benefits remained.
In other words, there’s little robust scientific evidence to support the claims made on social media of drastic anti-aging effects. Not only that, but it does seem like a bit of a pain to poke about your face for 30 minutes each day for months – probably why those 11 people dropped out of the study.
“Unless someone is highly motivated, it’s hard to sustain these facial exercises over a long period of time and achieve these results,” Dr Shilpi Khetarpal, a dermatologist, told the Cleveland Clinic.
That isn’t to say that face yoga is straight up useless though – it’s just not necessarily going to delete your fine lines as though they never existed. It’s basically a trendy name for a massage, which we know does have some benefits.
Massaging can help to release muscle tension and stimulate blood flow to the area, which could explain the “glow” that some people see with face yoga. “Anytime you bring blood flow into an area, it gets your capillaries (blood vessels) moving, which can promote a relaxation of the muscles and get fluids moving,” massage therapist Vickie Bodner explained to the Cleveland Clinic.
“Sometimes, people get puffy under the eyes or in the sinus area. Practicing self-massage on the face may help you release unwanted fluids.”
In summary: if it feels nice and helps you relax, face yoga could be for you. If you can’t be bothered with it but are worried you’ll turn into a bag of wrinkles otherwise, rest assured – you’re not missing out.
All “explainer” articles are confirmed by fact checkers to be correct at time of publishing. Text, images, and links may be edited, removed, or added to at a later date to keep information current.
The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.