Facial Exercises

Woman vocalizing with hands around her mouth

Q: Can facial exercise firm up sagging skin and reduce wrinkles, as claimed?

A: Lots of people are promoting anti-wrinkle facial exercises, but the idea that strengthening facial muscles will firm up sagging skin and fill in wrinkles makes no sense.

As you age, fat deposited in the skin of the cheeks and temples tends to shrink, and your outer layer of skin gets thinner and starts to sag. Genetics, smoking and sun exposure are other major factors in sagging skin and wrinkling. Weakened facial muscles play little or no role—the muscles are quite small, so even if they did bulk up through exercise, you wouldn’t notice it.

In fact, since facial skin is very thin, repeated movement of muscles helps cause creases and wrinkles, not prevent them. Just look at the crow’s feet at the corners of your eyes, caused by squinting or laughing, or the folds running from your nose to your lips, caused by smiling.

Actually, inactivity of facial muscles helps reduce wrinkling. When people suffer partial paralysis of the face, wrinkles tend to lessen on the paralyzed side. That’s the rationale for Botox (botulism toxin) treatments, which temporarily paralyze the muscles that cause frowning and other wrinkling.