Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Facial Exercises: Should you Do Them?

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Proponents of facial exercises claim that these movements firm the muscles beneath the skin of your face, creating an uplifted, taut, more youthful complexion. Their thought is that if we deem it necessary to exercise our bodies, why shouldn't our faces need exercises, as well?

There are photos of youthful looking older women, who claim they have maintained their lovely skin through specific exercises for the face. Many state that you can achieve the same benefits through facial exercises that you would from a face lift.

Usually, exercises for the chin and neck are included in a facial exercise routine, as well.

Note: Many proponents of facial exercises are trying to sell you a book about their exercise routine or a gadget designed to help you work your face. If you want an unbiased opinion about the benefits of facial exercise, look for someone who doesn't have anything to gain by proclaiming that facial exercises work.

Opponents of facial exercises point out that our faces get plenty of exercise during our daily lives. Making expressions, chewing, moving our eyes -- these all work the muscles of our face. Likewise, we constantly move our neck, which exercises our chins and neck muscles. Opponents of facial exercises say that the repetitive movement of our faces is one cause of wrinkling. They note that actresses and models, who pull their faces into exagerrated positions underneath drying, hot lights often have a problem with premature wrinkling.

Facial exercises are generally derived from exagerrated forms of our natural expressions. Thus, opponents of these exercises are concerned that pulling your face daily into these exercises will cause our delicate facial skin to wrinkle more quickly.

So, what should we do? If the experts who study these things can't agree, then I, as a non-expert, certainly don't have the answer! But, here are my ideas -- which are just thoughtful guesses about the subject:

1) Our bodies were created to move. In the past, most people (except for the very wealthy) naturally got all the exercise they needed through their daily movements. Today, people who work vigourously without modern conveniences -- such as the Amish -- still get sufficient bodily exercise from the labor that they do. They do not need to add additional exercises to their daily routine in order to stay fit, as people with sedentary jobs do.

Those of us who work at home are more active than office workers are, but we probably don't get in as much activity about the house and garden as our great-great-grandma did. So, today, it is necessary for most people, include the woman at home, to do some type of bodily exercise in order to stay healthy.

However, the face is one part of our body that is never sedentary! Like our bodies, our faces were created to move. And, move they do, whether we realize it or not!

Even people who sit in a chair in front of a computer all day long continually use their faces. Every time they concentrate diligently on a task, their face works itself into a certain expresson. Every time they look up and smile at a co-worker, they move muscles. Every time they eat someting, they work their jaws and chin. Every time they register contentment, discontent, surprise, happiness, stress, etc., they are moving their faces. They work their heads and necks, as well, by turning them to look for something on their desk, looking up to find a book on a top shelf, or dropping the head down and to the side in order to take a paper clip out of a drawer.

Perhaps, our faces take care of themselves, exercise wise. To me, it doesn't automatically follow that if our bodies need additional exercise to stay fit, that our faces need specific exercises, too.

2) Having said that, the effort to cultivate a pleasant expression on our faces is an exercise in and of itself. Imho, this is a vital facial exercise. Making a concious effort to project a cheerful and empathetic look takes some work! But, it pays off. This is especially true with regard to mature women, whose facial muscles do gradually sag. (See yesterday's post).

So, at the least, we can let pleasantly upturned lips, frequent smiles, and a little lifting of the eyelids against a natural droop be our facial exercise routine. That could be all we need, in addition to the movements that our face and neck naturally make all day long.

3) In decades past, some women were taught to restrain their natural facial movements. This was, in part, an effort to avoid wrinkles.
Thus, some women worked hard to keep their smiles subtle. They put tape between their eyes so that they would feel a tug everytime they frowned, and this served as a reminder not to scrunch up their forehead. They held pencils between their upper and lower teeth and practiced ennunciating without moving their jaws too much. Hints like these were still popular in woman's and girl's magazines when I was a little girl in the sixties.

If you frown overly, sticking a little bit of tape between your eyebrows to remind you not to grimace could do some good. Just be sure to remove the tape before going out in public!

Otherwise, I'm not a big fan of suppressing our God-given expressions just to preserve our unwrinkled complexions. As I have said, I believe we should replace negative habits of thought and emotion with postive, cheerful ones. We should also remember that emotions make great servants, but poor masters. Once we've established godly habits of emotion, imho, it's best to let our faces function as God intended them to.

The hints for avoiding facial movement, however, do point out an irony of the beauty world. Some women go around trying to hold their faces unnaturally still in an effort to avoid wrinkling. Others exercise their faces by pulling them into exagerrated movements with the same goal in mind!

4) Facial exercises can relax tense facial muscles. This can help you let go of a frown caused by a sinus headache. It can relieve eye muscles that have tightened from a squint by focusing on sewing or the computer or a book. In that case, the exercises might actaully prevent you from scrunching up your skin, thus preventing some wrinkling. You may want to learn a few of these exercises so that you can do them when your face feels tense for some reason.

However, there are other ways to achieve relaxed skin. You can simply sit for a moment and conciously relax your facial muscles. You can lie down for a few moments with a warm, wet washcloth over your face. You can go outside and let your eyes wander restfully off to some pretty scenery in the distance. When you are doing work that requires that your eyes focus closely on something, take five minute breaks now and again. Look up from your work and let your eyes focus on something else in the room. Close your eyes for a few seconds.

5) If you would like to try a facial exercise, here's one that might be beneficial: Look up as far as your eyes will roll, look down as far as your eyes will roll, look to the right as far as your eyes will roll, and look to the left as far as your eyes will roll. This exercise might improve the health of your eyes and, imho, probably wouldn't harm the skin around your eyes. I try to remember to do this one, myself.

6) Some people do feel that the exercises suggested for sagging or double chins do work. Some of these don't reqire that you wrinkle your skin. So, my thought is that these exercises are worth a try.

7) If you would like to try facial exercise, look for ones that don't require you to crease your skin.

8) Certainly, too much indolence of the body can lead to a slack looking face. If we are lethargic, we won't have much energy to remain bright-eyed and smiling. If we carry too much extra weight, that can register itself in a slack-looking face. But, the best cure for for the effects of indolence on our face is probably to get our whole body moving and to get some fresh air as we can. That might cure the problem better than doing specific facial exercises.

9) Busy at-home women may wonder when they would ever have time to do facial exercises. If you do decide you want to give facial exercises a try, you will find that some routines only last only a couple of minutes or two. You could do a couple of facial exercises at the same time that you cleanse your face.



Julieann said...

Elizabeth, that was interesting, I never thought of facial excercises.


Mrs. U said...

This is VERY interesting!!!! I'm so glad that you shared this!!

You know, it seems like I've seen something sold on QVC to exercise your facial muscles. Hmmmm... I guess they've thought about this, too!!! It certainly makes sense since we have muscles in our face, too!!

Mrs. U

Elizabeth said...

Hi Julieann and Mrs. U:

Having fair, delicate skin, I pay some attention to the warning of some experts that facial exercise may actaully lead to more wrinkling. But, I do do the eye exercise mentioned -- when I remember to do it. And, there ar e few gentle facial exercises listed in a routine I occasionally do. So, I suppose I do do a few facial exercises -- just not on a daily basis.

Glad you both found the article interesting.


Elizabeth said...

To Julieann and Mrs. U: I meant there are a few facial exercises listed in an exercise routine for your whole body. I occasionally do this routine, and, when I do, I don't skip the facial exercises.