Is Face Yoga Your Anti-Aging Solution?

woman performing face yoga exercises on lower face

Written by Founder, Amir Karam MD

Quote Icon

Today, we're diving into a fascinating and popular topic that's been gaining a lot of attention–facial yoga.

You might have heard about it, you may have even given it a try yourself, but many people have asked me about it and are curious whether they should include it in their skincare and anti-aging routines.

There's a wealth of information surrounding facial yoga. Personally, exploring this topic was enlightening for me. It allowed me to offer more knowledgeable advice to my patients, providing a deeper understanding and background. This helps all of us set realistic expectations and make informed decisions when considering various anti-aging practices for ourselves. 

So, what is facial yoga? Let’s address some of the most common questions surrounding this topic.

Facial Yoga: What Exactly Is it?

Face yoga is aimed at improving the appearance and health of the face and neck muscles through specific exercises and manual massage techniques. 

Similar to traditional yoga, face yoga involves a series of movements where you're contracting, relaxing, and stretching your facial muscles in your forehead, eyes, cheeks, mouth, jawline, and neck, to improve muscle tone, reduce tension, enhance blood flow, and some say it even stimulates collagen production. 

This practice has been around for centuries, with ancient Indian, Chinese, and various other cultures incorporating facial yoga into their wellness traditions. Facial yoga exercises are often intricate and require mindfulness about how different parts of the face move together. 

What's Difference Between Facial Yoga and Gua Sha?

In addition to facial yoga, another facial technique gaining popularity is Gua Sha, an ancient traditional Chinese medicine practice. While both methods aim to enhance facial health and appearance, they are separate approaches to facial care.

Gua Sha involves using a smooth-edged tool to gently scrape the skin, which is “gua”, resulting in temporary redness, known as "sha." This technique stimulates blood flow and lymphatic drainage and aids in toxin removal. You may have also seen the jade rollers that you can roll across your face to help reduce puffiness or calm the skin, which is part of the same practice.

While Gua Sha focuses mostly on the skin and lymphatic system, facial yoga, in contrast, focuses more on the activation of smaller muscle groups in the face for toning and tightening.

While both facial yoga and Gua Sha offer similar benefits for facial health and appearance, it's essential to recognize they are distinct self- care methods and not to be confused.

Was Face Yoga Intended for Anti-Aging?

In ancient civilizations such as Egypt, India, and China, facial yoga has been a traditional component of holistic health for thousands of years. You have to figure, for anything to live and survive over millennia, it must have some credibility, and, just like regular yoga or some of these other ancient practices, like herbal healing or meditation, if it didn't offer tangible benefits, they would have phased out over time. 

Much like traditional yoga for the body, facial yoga persisted because there are helpful and impactful elements to the practice. However, in my research, I noticed historical descriptions don't directly link facial yoga to anti-aging practices. Instead, it intends to focus on overall facial and bodily health. 

This could be because hundreds and thousands of years ago humans had much shorter life expectancies so the concept of aging wasn't a prominent thought back then. Today, with longer life expectancies, concerns about facial aging are much more pronounced. 

From what I can tell, it's unclear that “anti-aging” was its original purpose. As with any practice, interpretations vary, but modern discussions often include facial yoga in the realm of anti-aging skincare. However, I reserve judgment on this aspect until further exploration.

Does Facial Yoga Actually Work?

The big question: Does facial yoga really work? When we invest time and energy into something, we expect it to deliver positive results, particularly in slowing down or reversing signs of skin or facial aging. We have certain expectations when we embark on such a practice. 

However, the reality with face yoga is that there's virtually no scientific research supporting its effectiveness. In my opinion, I believe this is the case because designing a study to assess its impact presents numerous challenges that would make it extremely difficult to measure its effectiveness. 

Unlike testing active skincare ingredients over a short period, studying facial yoga would require following participants for years while controlling for various lifestyle factors that influence aging. This makes it difficult to draw conclusive results. While we can't rule out its potential benefits entirely, but as of now, there's insufficient evidence to support it. 

Nonetheless, I haven't come across any significant red flags indicating adverse effects.

If you find that incorporating facial yoga into your routine brings you benefits, and you have the time and dedication for it, there's no harm in trying it out. 

What About Wrinkles?

Now, when it comes to facial yoga, there are some important considerations. While attempting various poses and exercises, I noticed that executing them correctly was more challenging than expected. 

For example, one pose involved looking up with the mouth open while keeping the forehead muscles relaxed. However, I found it difficult to avoid creasing my forehead. This highlights a potential risk of facial yoga: if done incorrectly or repeatedly in areas prone to creasing, it can actually contribute to the formation of wrinkles over time.

Repetitive facial movements are what lead to wrinkles. As we raise our eyebrows and foreheads, squint, or make frowning gestures, the skin creases. When the creases appear during the expressions, but disappear when we stop, that’s known as dynamic wrinkles. 

As we age, these dynamic wrinkles can evolve into static wrinkles, which is when the creases remain visible even when our faces are at rest. This is where interventions like Botox come into play, aiming to relax muscles and prevent dynamic wrinkles from becoming static.

If you are doing facial yoga for anti-aging, it's crucial to approach it mindfully.

Be aware of how your facial muscles are responding during the exercises. While a few wrinkles may not seem like a big deal, it's not worth spending time doing facial yoga, realizing you’ve been doing it incorrectly and creating more wrinkles, when the goal was to use it for anti-aging benefits.

As you practice facial yoga, pay attention to where lines are forming. Avoid excessive repetition that can lead to the development of creases and folds in those areas.

Is Face Yoga the New Skincare Routine?

In countries like China, Korea, and India, holistic health practices are deeply ingrained in their cultures, contributing to their renowned skincare and youthful appearance. These practices extend beyond facial yoga to encompass a holistic approach to wellness.

While various cultures advocate for facial yoga, it's essential to note that facial yoga isn't typically the only form of skincare.

Rather, these cultures prioritize a comprehensive approach to skin health, encompassing practices like rigorous sun protection, active skincare ingredients, as well as attention to diet, hydration, sleep, and overall lifestyle habits. 

Facial yoga, along with techniques like Gua Sha, should be incorporated as enhancements to your skincare regimen, rather than standalone practices. Across cultures and generations, facial yoga has been integrated into broader traditional approaches to health, alongside body yoga, acupuncture, and dietary considerations, all aimed at promoting overall well-being rather than solely targeting anti-aging concerns. 

In essence, facial yoga finds its place within a holistic framework, offering an optional supplement to existing skincare health routines, but should not replace your clinically-tested, tried-and-true skincare routine.

Do I Recommend Face Yoga?

Alright, let's wrap up my thoughts on facial yoga overall. Personally, I don't see myself incorporating it into my daily routine, nor would I necessarily recommend it to others. Honestly, because I tend to be a bit lazy when it comes to skincare, and I don't obsess over facial aging. 

My philosophy revolves around doing the most with the least effort and energy. That's why I developed Trifecta - a simple routine that takes only a few minutes each day. 

I cleanse my face every morning and evening, follow up with all the active ingredients I need, use daily sun protection, and that’s it.

For me, spending extra time in front of a mirror to learn and practice facial yoga just doesn't seem worth it given the lack of compelling evidence. However, everyone is different.

You might find joy and peace in the process of practicing facial yoga, and if so, that's great. I don't see any major issues with it, but I can't confidently endorse it as a must-do skincare practice. 

Ultimately, the good news is that facial yoga won't harm you, and it won't cost you much to learn if you feel inclined to do so. If you want to add it as part of your daily self-care practice, I say go for it, but certainly do not use it as a replacement for a committed skincare routine and sun protection.

While facial yoga may have its enthusiasts, skincare and sun protection have been consistently proven as effective anti-aging methods, unlike facial yoga.

What is the Secret to Anti-Aging?

Sun protection and active skincare are proven methods that can significantly enhance the appearance of your skin over time. And, consistency is the true key here. 

Just as with facial yoga, you need to stay committed for lasting results. A few weeks or months of any skincare routine or yoga practice won't bring noticeable changes. To effectively prevent and defy aging, you must take control and commit to your skincare regimen. By following the philosophies of prevention and restoration, as seen in Korean skincare practices, you can achieve remarkable results. 

Remember, your skin's health is in your hands, starting with prioritizing sun protection and skincare. While treatments like lasers, microneedling, chemical peels, facial yoga, and gua sha can complement your routine, they should come after the fundamentals. 

I hope this gives you a clearer perspective and answered some of your facial yoga questions. I'm eager to hear your thoughts or any other questions, so please send us an email if you have anything to share.

If you found this Journal article helpful or interesting, send it to your friends and family, and make sure you are signed up for the weekly Journal emails so you can stay up to date on all of my latest skincare advice.

Amir Karam MD

Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon
Founder / Creator of KaramMD Skin

Dr. Amir Karam is a renowned facial cosmetic surgeon and an authority in his field. With over two decades of experience helping patients achieve a younger, refreshed appearance. In addition to surgical procedures that sculpt a youthfully-defined facial shape, Dr. Karam takes the quality of the skin into account.

Contact Us

Do you have any questions or comments?