Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 7/31/2021
To keep your body looking and feeling good, you hit the gym. But what about the less obvious muscles in your body? Like the 43 in your face, for instance.
Just like you should work out the muscles in your arms, chest, back and legs, you should also be taking care of the muscles in your face — your jaw muscles, cheek muscles, etc.
After all, we all want the classic muscular jawline.
Often called facial yoga, there are certain movements that can potentially help smooth out signs of aging.
The thinking here is that by working out your facial muscles, you help thicken them so that your features get a bit of extra padding to plump them up.
Not sure if you buy it? A study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology found it works.
In the study, 16 people who performed 32 different exercises for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks, followed by every other day for 12 weeks, wound up looking nearly two years younger (as evaluated by a dermatologist).
Some notable issues with this study, however, are that the sample size was extremely small at just 16 people, and there was no technical control group.
However, even with some obvious shortcomings, the research is pretty impressive.
It should also be noted that for facial exercises to work, you have to commit to them and do them daily for an extended period of time.
Want to make them part of your routine? Keep reading for examples of facial exercises you can try, along with some other skin tips that can help battle an aging complexion.
You can’t exactly lift weights with your face or put it on a treadmill, so how do you exercise your facial muscles?
It’s complicated and there’s no real instruction manual for it, but here are a few helpful examples:
This exercise involves forcing your eyes open by positioning three fingers under each eyebrow.
From there, use your fingers to push your eyebrows down while smiling and closing your eyes. At the same time, roll your eyeballs upward, toward the ceiling and hold for 20 seconds.
This exercise involves pursing your lips together and smiling, with the goal being to make your cheek muscles contract.
With your cheek muscle contracting, use your fingers on the corners of your mouth and push toward your cheeks. Also hold this for 20 seconds.
This exercise involves making an “O” shape with your mouth. From there, try to fold your upper lip down over your front teeth and smile, which should force your cheek muscles to contract.
Then, with fingers on the top part of your cheek, release the muscles, and then contract them again for 10 “reps.”
There has also been a rise in popularity of tools to help you massage your face. Face rollers are often made of jade or rose quartz and work by rolling over your skin to massage it.
They’re often cool to the touch, too — so, they may help with puffiness.
A gua sha stone is a heart-shaped stone (also often jade or rose quartz) that you can glide over skin to massage it.
While there isn’t much evidence that shows these things work, they undoubtedly feel good.
Unsure if committing to facial exercises is for you? No worries. There are plenty of other proven ways to fight aging and give your complexion a youthful appearance.
These moves can make a difference.
Dehydrated skin emphasizes aging, while hydrated skin is naturally more plump.
Proof? A study from 2015 found that drinking water not only improved sky hydration, it also boosted elasticity and other biomechanical markers.
There aren’t any official recommendations on exactly how much water you should drink, but the general consensus is that adult males should drink around 3.7 liters (or 0.98 gallons) of water per day.
Yet another reason to eat your fruits and veggies! These foods are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, polyphenols and flavonoids — all of which play a role in keeping your skin healthy.
On the flip side, diets high in sugar and other refined carbohydrates have been found to cause premature aging, so it’s best to limit those ingredients.
We know, we know: bummer. But hey! No one said looking and feeling your best was always fun.
It’s a fact: sleep is an important part of your overall health. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get seven to nine hours a night.
Along with a variety of other things (like mental agility and physical performance), lack of sleep can affect your skin.
A 2015 study found that poor sleepers had dryer skin and had a lower satisfaction with their appearance.
Make sleep a priority. Create a bedtime routine that puts you in a restful state — perhaps it includes a cup of decaffeinated tea and a little reading before you start snoozing.
What you eat and drink and how you sleep matter, but so does what you put on your skin.
Your skin care routine can help prevent further aging and protect your skin from environmental factors that cause damage.
These are three things you need to think about:
Gently Cleanse: Scrubbing your skin like you’re buffing out a scratch in your car is a bad idea. It leads to irritation, which leads to signs of aging. Instead, using a gentle face wash and lukewarm water twice daily to remove grit and grime is the way to go.
Protect: No matter the weather, no matter what you're doing, wearing SPF daily is a must. Make sure you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least thirty. It’s also smart to wear a hat as much as possible in the sun.
Hydrate: Moisturizer is an important part of any routine because it traps water in your skin and gives it a more youthful appearance. Hims’ wrinkle cream for men does just this.
Treat: You may also want to consider a prescription anti-aging treatment like retinol or tretinoin. They work by increasing collagen production to plump up your skin and reduce the visible signs of damage like wrinkles and dark spots. When looking for an anti-aging cream, it’s a good idea to make sure retinol or tretinoin are on the ingredient list.
If you’re wanting to keep your skin looking young, there are a variety of things you can try.
Facial exercises may improve the appearance of your complexion, but the catch is that you have to do them consistently over a long period of time.
And we also wouldn’t recommend using cheek exercises to help get rid of that double chin you’ve been hiding under your beard the last couple years.
The only surefire way to do that is with proper dieting and regular exercise.
If you’re worried you don’t have the patience or time for all that, there are other methods you can try — like drinking lots of water and using skincare products that address your specific aging skin concerns.
Facial Exercises Fight Appearance of Aging. Northwestern Magazine. Retrieved from https://magazine.northwestern.edu/news/facial-exercises-fight-appearance-of-aging/
Palma, L., Marques, L., Bujan, J., Rodrigues, L., (2015, August). Dietary Water Affects Human Skin Hydration and Biomechanics. Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, 8: 413–421. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4529263/
Liska, D., Mah, E., Brisbois, T., Barrios, P. L., Baker, L. B., & Spriet, L. L. (2019). Narrative Review of Hydration and Selected Health Outcomes in the General Population. Nutrients, 11(1), 70. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356561/
Cao, C., Xiao, Z., Wu, Y., Ge, C., (2020, March). Diet and Skin Aging—From the Perspective of Food Nutrition. Nutrients, 12(3): 870. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146365/
11 Ways to Reduce Premature Aging Skin. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/anti-aging/reduce-premature-aging-skin
How Much Sleep Do I Need? Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html
Oyetakin-White, P., Suggs, A., Koo, B., et al., (2015, January). Does poor sleep quality affect skin ageing? Clin Exp Dermatol. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25266053/
Ganceviciene, R., Liakou, A., et al (2012). Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato Endocrinology. 4(3): 308-319. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583892/