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Do Facial Exercises Really Tighten Skin?

author image Elle Di Jensen
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.
Do Facial Exercises Really Tighten Skin?
A close-up of a woman puckering her lips. Photo Credit Dave & Les Jacobs/Blend Images/Getty Images

The thought of going under the scalpel to tighten your loose facial skin and restore a youthful appearance may not appeal to you. But the temptation to submit to cosmetic surgery may increase every time you look in the mirror. If you have often wished for a nonsurgical way to tighten facial skin, you might be interested in facial exercises as a way to accomplish that -- if they really work.

The Theory

The muscles in your face form a foundation for your skin. Wherever your muscles go, so does the skin on top of them. That means that if your facial muscles lose tone, your facial skin will follow suit and sag. Medline Plus confirms that loss of muscle tone as you age contributes to loose, drooping skin. Since exercising the rest of your body's muscles improve their tone, the theory behind facial exercises for tightening skin is that exercising them will tone them up and result in tighter skin.

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Some Say it Works...

Beauty and exercise gurus swear by facial exercises for tightening loose skin, but if you're considering beginning a facial exercise regimen, you want to hear from an authoritative professional whether it will work for you. Some medical professionals, such as plastic and cosmetic surgeon Dr. Francis Palmer, promote the effectiveness of facial exercises and recommend specific ones to their patients. In his 2009 book "What's Your Number? The Palmer Code," Dr. Palmer says facial exercises for your cheeks, eye area and neck will firm up the muscles in those areas, and that will result in increased elasticity and firmness of facial skin.

...Some Disagree

Although some doctors deem facial exercises to be useful for tightening the skin on your face, others claim that they do nothing to improve the tone of sagging skin. In her article "Can Facial Exercises Really Prevent or Reduce Skin Wrinkling?," dermatologist Dr. Flor Mayoral says that exercising your face provides no benefits to wrinkled or sagging skin. To back up her position, Dr. Mayoral points out that no clinical research has been done to prove that the exercises work and goes on to say that exercises that require you to squint your eyes or pucker your lips will encourage wrinkles to form.

Ways to Improve Skin Tone

Even though the medical opinions on facial exercises go both ways, you may want to do some research on your own and give them a shot. If you'd rather employ techniques that are proven to improve the condition of your skin, follow the advice of professional dermatologists. Wash your face every evening; the Department of Dermatology at the University of Connecticut says that after age 40 you no longer need to wash it twice a day. Use moisturizer and sunscreen. Apply topical antioxidant and vitamin A or retinoid creams to improve cell renewal and collagen growth. Exercising in general (not just facial muscles) will also help by oxygenating skin. According to Joy Brown's "Creation Diet," drinking 8 ounces of water per 20 pounds of body weight per day will hydrate and plump up skin cells. Don't deprive yourself of sleep, and eat a healthy diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as omega 3-rich foods such as almonds, flaxseed and salmon.

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