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Is It Time to Take Your Face to the Gym?

A buzzy new facial workout is here to exercise the 40 muscles in your face
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No-workout workouts have been trending for a few years now — and so has an obsession with meeting impossibly high beauty standards. Both of these trends meet at a much-buzzed-about new facial workout spot, FaceGym, which recently opened at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City (it has been in the UK for a few years already).

So, what is a facial workout?

It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like, a workout, albeit a passive one, for your face. "We designed a workout to target the forgotten 40 muscles in the face and we mimicked exactly the same journey we perform when we work out our body," says FaceGym founder Inge Theron. Each workout has been designed to feature a warm-up, cardio, sculpting and cool down. Fittingly, facialists are called trainers at FaceGym.

"In the warm-up, the trainer starts with light face balling to release muscle tension then, knuckles in the cleanser and lightly stretches the muscles in preparation for the cardio," Theron explains. "During the cardio phase, your trainer takes the speed right up to help detox your face from toxins associated with excess stress, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and water retention from flying, making your face start to sweat. This is done with high-speed hand whipping, flicking and pinching, as well as some lymph draining to depuff the face." The trainer then uses deep finger sculpting and lifting techniques to lift the jaw and cheekbone area. A much gentler technique is used around the eye muscle to lift and sculpt the whole eye area, reducing any unwanted puffiness. "During the cool down, we use a cooling jade stone to take some of the heat out of your face and drain away toxins lengthening and cooling down the muscles, which have just been worked out," Theron adds.

While FaceGym may be the first to push this concept on a large, glossy scale, beauty brands have been talking about this for years. At a press event for Mama Mio's new face care products circa 2011, all of the brand's products included a pamphlet outlining facial exercises that they claimed would improve the efficacy of their products. So should we be paying more attention?

Image via @face_gym

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Are facial workouts painful or relaxing?
While it's no La Prairie facial at the Ritz, a facial workout should never hurt. "If it's your first time, our trainers can start you on a slower speed and a lighter touch, however, we do encourage a firm hand in sculpting to get the best lift," Theron says.

How often should you work out your face?

According to Theron, FaceGym should be seen as a personal trainer for your face. "We recommend coming every 7 to 10 days for a facial workout with your trainer and supplementing at home in-between with the PureLift, Gold Roller, Guasha Stone and muscle manipulation with your own hands.

Image via @face_gym

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How do facial workouts hold up to a dermatologist's scrutiny?
Unfortunately, not as well as you might have hoped. "While these exercises might increase blood flow, which is beneficial for fighting wrinkles, the repetitive movement of facial muscles actually makes wrinkles more defined — especially on the forehead, crow's feet and eleven lines," says dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, Dr. Dennis Gross. "I have also not seen any hard evidence that these exercises actually stimulate collagen production enough to make a noticeable difference."

Gross, whose clients include Olivia Palermo, Rosie Whitely-Huntington, Jordan Dunn, Lindsey Ellington, Zoe Kravitz and Selena Gomez, says that if you really want to ramp up your skin's natural production of collagen, use clinical skin care with ingredients like alpha beta hydroxy acids, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and ferulic plus retinol acid. "There are even at-home devices, like my SpectraLite Eye Care Pro, which uses red LED lights to stimulate your body's natural production of collagen and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you want to take it a step further, in-office procedures like filler, Botox and laser treatments are available to achieve results faster."

While Gross doesn't consider facial workouts an equal alternative to any dermalogical procedure — he says they're simply not as efficacious when it comes to delivering ingredients directly into the skin to truly increase collagen fibers, which is the legitimate scientifically proven way to firm, lift and thicken skin — it's worth highlighting a 2018 study from Northwestern University that found that 30 minutes of daily facial exercises can improve the appearance of middle-aged women.

Image via @face_gym

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Start with a DIY approach to facial workouts
If you're skeptical, start with a DIY facial workout approach. Theron has outlined some at-home exercises:

· Chin Press Up: Make a V with your hand and rest your chin in the V. Pull your lips over your top teeth hold for five seconds and repeat (do this 10 times). Move the hand to either side of the chin with the length of your fingers covering your ears and make the sound "eeeee" with your mouth 10 times. Put your ring fingers inside your mouth on either side, pull the skin to the side and use your jaw muscles to bring the fingers back in to touch your teeth 10 times.

· Fish Pose: Hold your collarbone with your hands on either side, tilt your head back slowly until you feel a stretch and then start opening and closing your mouth like a fish making circles as if you were saying "ouch." Still holding your hands on your collarbone, look ahead and say "eeeeeeek" 10 times.

· Place index finger on chin, lift chin up towards the ceiling, open your mouth while covering teeth with lips, open and close mouth for 12 reps.

· For horizontal forehead lines, place both hands on the forehead facing towards each other and place firm pressure while spreading fingers out between the eyebrows and hairline. Repeat 10 times.

Image via @face_gym

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