10 Facial Exercises to Tighten Skin

Strengthen your facial muscles for a free face-lift.
Image Credit: Doucefleur/iStock/GettyImages

As you age, it's normal for skin to lose tone and elasticity. While the beauty industry pushes expensive creams and surgeries to address these issues, facial exercises can improve fullness and help the face look younger, according to a March 2018 research letter published in ​JAMA Dermatology​.

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That's because when you exercise any muscle — even a facial muscle — it responds by getting stronger. Exercises for your face firm sagging cheeks and a drooping lower lip by firming the underlying muscles to give the skin a more even appearance.

They also increase circulation to the face and may trigger increased collagen production. Exercises for your facial muscles don't require special equipment, and you can perform most of them at home in your spare time, during your morning and evening routine.

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Keep in mind that while your face workout can help firm up underlying muscles of the face, you'll need to add cardiovascular exercise with your face yoga and toning exercise to lose weight in the face, if needed.

1. Mouth-Toning Smiling Exercise

The area around the lips and cheeks loses muscle tone, causing sagging skin around the mouth. The corners of the mouth tend to droop downward over time. The California Dental Specialty Group recommends this facial exercise to help reinforce facial movement and muscle tone.

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This is a smiling exercise that will firm and tone the area around the mouth and give you greater control over your smile. It should be done in front of a mirror.

  1. Start by relaxing the facial muscles. Think of something happy.
  2. Slowly smile by stretching the corners of the mouth laterally. Keep the lips together and hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Next, smile wider, exposing the edges of the teeth, hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Smile wider, increasing muscle tension and exposing the upper teeth. Make sure to keep the eye area relaxed. Hold for 10 seconds.
  5. Finally, smile as wide as possible using lateral tension and exposing all of the upper teeth without showing the gums. You should feel a slight burning in the cheek muscles at this point. Hold for 10 seconds and relax.

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The second half of this sagging-lips exercise uses the index fingers for gentle resistance.

  1. Smile wide and place the index fingers at the corners of the mouth.
  2. Start relaxing your smile, but keep resistance on the corners of the mouth and hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Try to close your mouth while keeping resistance, hold for 10 seconds and relax.
  4. Repeat this exercise 5 times.

2. Sphinx Smile

Alternatively, you can practice sphinx smile to prevent excessive wrinkles around the eyes and drooping mouth corners, according to yoga instructor Annelise Hagen, author of The Yoga Face.

  1. Lift the corners of your mouth to smile.
  2. Avoid creasing the corners of your eyes by keeping your eyes neutral.
  3. Repeat this exercise 3 or 4 times.

3. Air Kisses

Hagen says this exercise works to keep the lips strong.

  1. Pucker your lips, but keep your brow smooth as you blow air kisses four times.
  2. Place two fingers to your lips and blow air kisses again for 3 or 4 repetitions.

4. Fish Face

This is a great — and fairly common — face exercise for sagging cheeks.

  1. Smile while pursing your lips.
  2. Suck the inside of your cheeks into the gap between the sides of your teeth to create a fish face.
  3. Perform this exercise 5 times to firm and tone your lips and cheeks, suggests Hagen.

5. Face-Lift Exercise

The delicate skin around the eyes can start to lose tone, causing drooping eyelids and sagging around the corners of the eyes. To tighten the eye area, try this face-lift exercise.

  1. Sit with your back straight and smile.
  2. Place your index fingers on the corners of the eyes where crow's feet form.
  3. Next, keeping resistance with your fingers, pulse your lower lids against the resistance. Do this by contracting the muscle in the lower lid, trying to close the eye.
  4. Move the lower lid up as far as possible without actually closing the eye, relax and repeat. Do not move any other facial muscle.
  5. Do 3 sets of 20 reps.

6. Surprise Me Exercise

Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Andre Aboolian, MD, notes in the Los Angeles Times that this exercise can help strengthen the muscles of the forehead because those are the easiest facial muscles to target.

  1. Widen your eyes, but avoid wrinkling your forehead.
  2. Focus on a point in front of you for between 5 and 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat this exercise up to 4 times.

7. Puffy Cheeks

  1. Puff out both of your cheeks and shift the air in your mouth from one cheek to the other.
  2. Continue the exercise until you feel you are almost out of breath.
  3. Repeat the exercise 3 times to help keep your cheeks firm.

8. Jaw and Neck Exercise

Do the following exercise to firm the neck and jaw area. This exercise, which was developed by Jack Lalanne, can be done while sitting at a desk.

  1. Sit with the spine erect and the face relaxed.
  2. Tilt the head back and look at the ceiling.
  3. Start moving your jaw up and down in chewing motions.
  4. Continue this for 20 seconds, then relax.
  5. Do this several times during the day, and you'll notice the muscles just under the chin, sternohyoid, and the jaw muscles, or masseter, toning and firming.

9. Lion's Breath

Hagan suggests the lion's breath exercise for stretching and relieving tension in the muscles of your face.

  1. Inhale through your nose as you ball your hands into fists and flex the muscles of your face.
  2. Exhale through your mouth as you stick out your tongue, roll your eyes and open your hands. (Roaring is optional, but can help you further release tension.)
  3. Repeat 3 times.

10. Buddha Face Pose

This exercise trains you to be aware of what your facial muscles are doing and how to relax them if they become overly tight.

  1. Close your eyes and concentrate on an imaginary point between your eyebrows.
  2. Hagen suggests imagining a small disk of light that slowly expands as you relax the muscles of your face.
  3. Let go of the tension in your facial muscles and relax for at least 10 seconds at a time.

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