TikTok trends are nothing new. From butter boards to nasal spray tans, they run the gamut from iconic to meh to downright cringe. Facial exercising is one wellness trend that hasn't lost steam, and you may still see it splashed across your socials. Here's the lowdown on those facial yoga "poses" that claim to combat the signs of aging.

What Is the Impetus Behind Facial Yoga?

The fuel behind the facial exercise phenomenon is the idea that the muscles in our face can grow. This growth is supposed to compensate for the natural reduction of our faces' fat pads as we age. These fat pads lie under the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat layers and above our facial muscles and give us the plumpness we associate with youth.

They get thinner over time, though, and, of course, any weight loss can result in sagging skin. By giving the muscles a workout, devotees hope to keep the plump for longer.

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Claims Made by Influencers

Social media influencers promote facial exercises as a more natural way to reduce sagginess, decrease wrinkles, and help you look younger. Botox, fillers, and lasers also cost a ton of money, and facial yoga is free if you do it yourself, which makes it accessible to the average woman or man.

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Dermatologists' Opinions on Facial Exercises

There's limited evidence to support all the claims about facial exercises. Yes, it's possible to grow the temporalis and masseter muscles via chewing and clenching, AKA "mewing," for a contoured jawline, but not without potentially triggering jaw issues like TMJ. Plus, many women don't want a squarer jawline. Face exercises won't slim your visage or make fine lines disappear, nor can they make your double chin vanish.

Facial muscles aren't comparable to, say, biceps that adapt to overload and grow dramatically. When you do facial yoga, you're mainly moving skin around. This may increase blood flow, but the effects don't last long enough to affect how "young" you'll look. There is a standout benefit, though: face yoga can help reduce facial scarring. People with thick scars may benefit from stretching the skin, which can thin the scar over time.

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Studies Supporting Facial Exercises

Rigorous scientific studies backing up influencer claims about face workouts are thin on the ground. A 2018 study found that half an hour of daily facial exercise over 20 weeks made middle-aged woman appear slightly younger with more mid-face and lower-face fullness.

However, the sample size was very small—a meager 27 people—so further research is required.

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Potential Risks and Side Effects

The good news is facial yoga has no harmful effects. It won't cause wrinkles or sagginess, as some have claimed. The main downside might be the loss of time if someone were to stick to a half-hour facial exercise routine every other day over four and a half months. That's about 35 hours spent on a workout with dubious results. If you're going to massage, as well, and fail to wash your hands well, you could also wind up with acne.

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Comparing Facial Exercises to Other Skincare Techniques

Suppose you've got half an hour for self-care. In that case, you're probably better off having a power nap, applying moisturizer and sunblock, preparing a healthy snack with essential fatty acids and protein peptides, or working out. That's assuming you want to take the natural, affordable route sans injectables and expensive aesthetic facials.

Tools that cause lymphatic drainage have also been touted in recent years. Placing a jade roller in the fridge may briefly depuff the face, but the verdict's still out on practices like facial gua sha.

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Face Yoga and Mental Health

Self-care rituals like face yoga may lower stress levels and reduce depressive symptoms. Mental health issues are the number one reason for skin issues, so activities that assist with boosting mood, easing anxiety, and getting to the root cause of it should manifest in skin health improvements in the long term.

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Forehead Exercises

Brow lifts may strengthen your forehead. Make two peace signs over your eyebrows and push your brows up and down. Do three sets of 10 for best results. Again, make sure you wash your hands well before you start so you aren't pressing dirt into your pores while you work.

You'll notice a bit of muscle soreness after doing facial exercises, like the ache you feel after smiling for too many pictures. This is normal, and will feel better after a few days. If you see any bruising or the pain persists, you've probably gone to hard on these small muscles.

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Cheekbone Exercises

Cheekbones show signs of aging first. When you start facial gyming at home, exercises that target the cheekbones include Fish Lips, Kiss Face, and The Whistler. They strengthen facial muscles and supposedly reduce the impact of gravity when you bow your head. For Kiss Face, make an O with your mouth, smile with lips pursed, and hold for 10 seconds.

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Eye Exercises

You can do an eye squeeze to prevent crow's feet and stretch your eyelids to smooth wrinkles. Watch an expert for the best results, but remember that countless factors—like genetics and lifestyle—affect how well these practices will help each individual person.

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