What Are the Dangers of Facial Exercises?

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Facial exercises have been lauded as the miracle cure to signs of aging in the face and neck. They have been offered as alternatives to Botox and face lifts. Programs that advise exercises like scrunching all the muscles of the face tightly claim that a few minutes a day can show results or younger looking skin in a matter of weeks. But facial exercises may actually have the opposite effects.


Unlike muscles in the body that attach to bones via tendons, the muscles of the face attach directly to the skin. Weak facial muscles do not affect the face in the same way that weak muscles of the body affect the area they are near. Wrinkles are caused not by lack of muscle tone but loss of elastin, collagen, and fat. Movements of the face from frowning to laughing, when done repeatedly, also cause wrinkles and sagging muscles, as do the ligaments to the face loosening over time.

Expert Insight

Dr. Wilma Bergfeld, the head of clinical research for the Department of Dermatology at The Cleveland Clinic, is quoted by cosmetics blogger Paula Begoun as saying that facial exercises could be benefical in "controlled situations." According to Begoun, she continued to say, "However, you would never want to do anything that moves the facial skin, especially as it ages, or overmanipulate the skin because it would create more wrinkling, increasing the loss of elasticity in the skin."


Elastin, collagen, and the fat layer under the skin of the face are really what keep the face looking young. Elastin and collagen deteriorate due to overexposure to the sun. Gravity and simply time will eat away at the fat layer of the skin. Facial exercises do nothing to address these issues.


Facial exercises come under many names like facial yoga, facial fitness, and facial gymnastics. Devices such as the Facial-Flex are also sold to exercise the face. These exercises are said to tone the muscles of the face and neck the same way that strength training tones other muscles in your body. Facial exercises are also used to treat burn victims, people with neurological disorders, and those who have suffered trauma to the face.


Although some experts say that facial exercises are harmful, others swear by them. Some examples of exercises include winking one eye at a time and contracting the muscles of the mouth. Close the eye, hold it for a second, and then open it again. Do two sets of 50 reps per eye. The muscles of the mouth can be worked by hooking your index fingers in the sides of your mouth and pulling it open. Push gently against your fingers with the muscles of your mouth and hold the isometric contraction for a few seconds. Next, push harder to push your fingers in and slightly close your mouth. Do two sets of 25 to 50 reps.