Do face exercises really work?

Why blowing your cheeks out 10 times isn't the answer for fabulous skin, and how to get the results you dream of without looking silly.

Here's how to find face exercises that work, and make your face look completely amazing. Plus, there's a free exercise to try, so you know how your face should feel when it's worked properly.

Soo, the heading? Yep, I've seen those exercises and others, that have no possible way of toning the face up. And I get asked if face exercises do work so often; that now I cut out the explanation and say how old I am before going into detail (59, here's my current photo). The most recent boost to my confidence was last week at an event with my hubby; where one of his flying pals thought I was our daughter, who's 28. I agree that's quite a stretch but I took the compliment anyway.

The science bit...

Effective exercise relies on science. To get the face working in the right way, you have to know what muscles activate and move which areas of the face. Essential No. 2 is knowing the origin and insertion of each muscle (where the muscle starts: origin, and ends:insertion), plus the action a muscle has. Solving a problem in one area can mean working the muscles in a different place to get results in the targeted area. For example, Jowls occur because the muscles further up the face have dropped – so to reduce jowls, it's necessary to lift the cheeks up and tone the jowl area to reduce them. Crows’ feet at the outer eye appear and spread when the brows and upper eyelids sag: lift the skin and crow's feet disappear - they smooth out really well with my brow and eye exercises.

The intensity of movement that I decide for an exercise is the next step. Ordinary movements like blowing the cheeks out don't give results, because they're not strong enough for the muscle to change. The toning response occurs when an activity is over and above the norm. In other words, lifting your face using exercise works because it is a simple fact of science. The skin revival happens automatically from the benefit of precisely targeting the right muscles.

Increase in workload = muscles respond = toned, tight and firm muscles=sensational skin

Working your face is the same as working your abdominals: without exercise your stomach muscles can be a bit slack and flabby, but do 50 sit ups a day and the muscles tighten up and gain definition.

Last there's the type of contraction, either isotonic or isometric: isotonic is a contraction with movement of the body, e.g.lifting a weight, isometric is contraction without movement, e.g. holding a weight steady. Face exercises need both types, like the Mouth Shaper below where Step 1 moves the lips more intensely than normal (isotonic), and Step 2 holds the contraction (isometric).

How to find the most trustworthy face exercises

1. Look for programs by professionals, usually a therapist, doctor or other certified practitioner.

2. Check the reviews, ask questions about what you want to achieve via email or the company's social media.

3. Is there a refund guarantee, or support if you need it?

4. Is the program good value for money? It's very likely that you'll need to pay for expertise, but you should expect good quality in return.

5. Track back and look at the history of the exercises, are they registered, how are they developed?

This exercise appears in the Faceworks book (available worldwide on Amazon), and the online Faceworks program, which includes exercise videos, workouts, and step by step courses. A 30-day guarantee and customer support comes as standard with the online service - all customers have the same benefits as they would if they were a client in my Therapy Practice.

Mouth Shaper Two

This exercise instantly plumps the top and bottom lips, and enhances natural lip colour. The effects occur because the blood supply increases in the skin and muscles around the mouth. The instant plump gradually becomes more permanent as lip muscles tone and build. Expect to see a reduction in expression lines around the mouth and lip lines over the course of 2 weeks to 2 months (depending on how deep your lines are). It also tones the area above, below and each side of the lips so that the area surrounding the mouth looks neater. Lastly, it gives the nose tip a little circulation boost.

Step One: Open your mouth into a smallish ‘O’ then roll both upper and lower lips firmly over your teeth, as in the photo below. Don’t dig your teeth into your lips and make sure that your lower jaw stays relaxed. The movement is only with your lips.

do face exercises really work 1

Step Two: With your mouth still open pull your lips in and round so that they tighten, almost as if you’re trying to close your mouth. The ‘O’ will get slightly smaller and you’ll feel your lips working hard. Check your jaw feels relaxed all the way through - there should be zero tension in the jawbone and jaw joint.

Do face exercises really work 2

Step Three: Hold for a slow count of 10 (or 15 seconds), while you concentrate on your lips. Keep your lips rolling round and in, without digging your teeth in or allowing your mouth to close. You should feel the muscles all around your mouth working quite hard.

Step Four: Relax your mouth and lips completely.

Repeat steps One to Four 5 times this makes one complete exercise. Do the exercise once a day (that's 5 reps) to see first results in 6-10 days.

Face Muscles worked in Mouth Shaper Two: Obicularis oris, zygomaticus major, zygomaticus minor, levator labii superioris, buccinator, depressor anguli oris, depressor labii inferioris, mentalis.

Do Face Exercises Work? The Takeaway...

An effective face exercise program relies on the science of exercise.

Muscles need to be worked differently to ordinary facial movements, so they tone, tighten and most importantly, lift and also renew the skin

Often the place that needs to be toned isn't solely where the problem is.

Face exercises really do work for your double chin, jowls, wrinkles, sagging skin, crow's feet, etc. when you choose the right ones (There's over 12 years of proof behind Faceworks).

There are a lot of face exercises available from people who don’t have expertise, and who don’t know how specific muscles work in the face.

Related: Find out more about how face exercises work in this article and why they are safer for skin than surgery or injectable procedures.

Elaine Bartlett, Dip.ITEC: Therapist, Kinesiologist and Faceworks Founder