Between the emergence of “maskne” (a word we’d never heard of a year ago but is now a part of our daily vocabulary) and more time spent in front of screens than ever before, not to mention the sleepless nights spent doom-scrolling, you may have noticed some skin dullness and puffiness that wasn’t there before. And while endless hours staring at our own faces on Zoom has resulted in an uptick in cosmetic procedures to address newfound imperfections, not everyone wants to go that route. Enter: face yoga and facial massage.
Launched in 2016 in the UK, “gym for your face” studio FaceGym made its North American debut in 2018, and currently has studio locations in Manchester, London, New York and Los Angeles. The premise of the facial (that’s way more than a facial) is to provide your face — and the 40+ muscles that exist from the neck up that we rarely think about — with a good ol’ fashioned workout, beginning with a warm up, then moving onto cardio and sculpting, before finishing with a cool down. The result? A non-invasive face lift, a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and an overall brighter, more plump-looking complexion.
Meghan Markle’s facialist, Nichola Joss, is also a huge proponent of facial massage and even has her own signature face massage method (which includes going inside your mouth (!) — you can watch a demo here). TikTok user @allyoucanface discovered face yoga after struggling with acne and getting drawn into facial anatomy as an alternative to invasive cosmetic procedures and harsh treatments. Today, she has almost half a million followers on TikTok, where she shares facial massage tips and tricks, as well as before and after shots. She also has a virtual face yoga course that involves a daily 10-minute facial exercise routine.
Anastasia Burdog of @anyclass.faceonline, boasts 2 million followers on Instagram and offers similar virtual classes based on her 10 years of “face gymnastics” experience, which she claims can help with facial asymmetry, puffiness, dullness, wrinkles and more.
Face yoga techniques vary from rapid, light slaps (to wake up the skin) to holding certain poses (to strengthen muscles) and the benefits, like regular yoga, range from toning muscles to easing tension and activating muscles that are rarely used.
Still not convinced? Before you write off face yoga as too goop-y, a 2018 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that “facial exercise resulted in improved […] upper cheek and lower cheek fullness” and the participants’ estimated ages were decreased after completing the exercise program. The women, aged 40 to 65, practiced 30 minutes of face yoga every day for two months, then every other day for three months, and at the end of the study, they looked about three years younger, according to a panel of dermatologists.
As far as tools go, your hands are all you really need to practice face yoga. In fact, they’re an excellent way to get well-acquainted with your facial structure, especially if you’re new to facial massage. But if you’re a fan of jade rollers, gua sha stones, or anything else, there’s certainly no reason you can’t incorporate them into your face yoga routine.