WTF Is It And Should You Try It? is an original A Plus Lifestyle series: Every now and then, we take a closer look at the lifestyle trends taking over our news feeds and find out whether they're worth the hype.
Maybe you set aside 45 minutes every other day to go for a run, catch a yoga class, or do some moves you learned from YouTube. Or, if you're nothing like me, you have a standing appointment with your spin instructor every day. Either way, there's no doubt that taking care of your body is an important part of being a healthy, happy human.
But, uh, what about your face? Are the weird, but remarkably fun skin care treatments you've been doing and the organic makeup routine you've switched to not enough? Does your face also need some workout attention?
The minds behind sexy salons like FaceLove Fitness and FaceGym definitely seem to think so. Facial exercises certainly aren't anything new, but these salons are making the practice more relaxing, luxurious, and appealing.
First things first: What even are face workouts?
The purpose of face workouts are to tone, sculpt, and tighten the face.
"The principle of facial muscle exercises is that you identify the specific muscle and work it, first by itself and later with your fingers to create resistance," cosmetic facial plastic surgeon Dr. Michelle R. Yagoda told A Plus. "The problem is that some muscle areas are difficult to work, and the movements may be exceptionally subtle." For this reason, Dr. Yagoda recommends having an expert supervise your technique.
"There are 57 muscles in the face [and neck] that can be toned and strengthened," Rachel Lang, esthetician and co-founder of FaceLove Fitness, told A Plus.
If you go in for a FaceLove session, you'll start working out those muscles by doing a warm up that releases tension in your neck, head, and shoulders. "[This] maximizes circulation to the muscles of the face," Lang said. "[And is] ultimately designed to enhance facial posture."
After the warm up, your trainer will instruct you to move your face in certain ways while practicing resistance. "This directs the muscles in an upward, lifted direction while improving circulation 10 times more than an inactive muscle, and over time has an accumulative effect just like exercising the body," Lang said.
Finally, you'll enter the cool down part of the session that aims to tone your facial muscles through massage.
The best part? One of the FaceLove instructors does most of the workout for you while you sit back and relax. "We call it the 'no workout, workout' because it's exercise, but we do most of it for you and you don't break a sweat," Lang said.
So, what're the benefits?
Facial exercise experts say their practices help tighten and tone your face by stimulating collagen production and preventing sagging.
"The muscles of the face are connected to each other as well as the bone structure and the skin they support, which is unique to the face. It is beneficial because, when one muscle group is toned, it has a ripple effect on other aspects of the face," Lang said. "For example, at FaceLove we designed a forehead exercise routine, which not only nourishes the skin of the forehead, but gives the eyes a lift too. The muscle holds strength and activity memory just like the muscles of the body, which is why both can be sculpted and defined with routine practice. When muscles are improved, the integrity of the skin is improved, including the functions and responsibilities such as absorption, protection and elimination."
"Our clients who come every week are insisting that they see a visual difference in their face posture and skin after four weeks," Lang said.
Should you try it?
The answer is ... well, it's complicated.
That's because there's a lot of conflicting information out there about whether these exercises actually work. No scientific studies have been done specifically on facial exercises, and experts have differing opinions.
Dr. Yagoda believes in the benefits. "These days, no one questions the assertion that you can get a fitter, younger-looking body by exercising your muscles, yet somehow, the notion that exercise can give you a fitter, younger-looking face is somehow surprising," she said. "Facial exercises can be rejuvenating. However, in order to be effective they must be customized and done consistently."
However, some experts think the benefits are overstated. I contacted distinguished facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Steven J. Pearlman's office who told me that facial workouts could potentially make matters worse:
"In terms of facial exercises, they would strengthen depressor muscles that pull down the jowls, cheeks, corners of the mouth, and create vertical neck bands. By strengthening the facial depressor muscles you would have the opposite effect of anti-aging and and would actually lead to your face looking older. The whole premise of Botox is that it relaxes muscles that have become overactive due to age and expression," Audrey Matney, the aesthetic coordinator for Dr. Pearlman, said. "Secondly, these exercises can stretch out the skin, causing loss of elasticity and fine lines."
Clearly, we need some scientific studies performed on facial exercises to straighten us all out. But, until then, you may just want to be your own guinea pig. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and wait for the facial trainer to finish working your face out.