Facial toning

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Facial toning, or facial exercise is a type of cosmetic procedure or physical therapy tool which promises to alter facial contours by means of increasing muscle tone, and facial volume by promoting muscular hypertrophy, and preventing muscle loss due to aging or facial paralysis. Facial toning and exercise is therefore in part a technique to achieve facial rejuvenation by reducing wrinkles, sagging and expression marks on the face and skin.[1] As a physical therapy, facial toning is used for victims of stroke and forms of facial paralysis such as Bell’s palsy.[2] Facial toning achieves this by performing facial muscle exercising. There are two types of facial toning exercises: active and passive face exercises.

Active Face Exercises[edit]

Face exercises involves repeated voluntary contractions of certain facial muscle groups, this category can be further sub divided into professional face exercises, pilates or yoga[3] facial exercises, gentle spa facial massage exercises, facial exercise using gadgets or the hands to add tension[4] and less aggressive holistic "handsfree" exercises.


In ancient times, such historical figures as Cleopatra and the Empress of the Imperial Court in China 2,000 years ago[5] were known to use facial exercises to maintain a youthful appearance. Since then, traditional Chinese facial exercises have been used to this day.[6]

The first face exercises were released commercially in a pamphlet in 1710 about a beauty routine that also included formulas for facial creams by Jeanne Sauval. Sauval was the personal attendant of madame Ninon de L'Enclos, the creator of the routine who had died five years before the pamphlet's release, the courtesan and author Anne "Ninon" de Lenclos wanted to be independent, and had no intention of marrying. Her lifestyle as an unmarried woman with multiple lovers led to her imprisonment in 1656, but was released soon after with assistance from Queen Christina of Sweden, she was well known as a smart and beautiful woman; she died at 84 years old.

Mr. Sanford Bennett's book Exercising in Bed was published in the early 1900s, using exercises and routines to uncover "the secret of health, strength, elasticity of body and longevity of life," including a number of exercises for the face.[7] Exercising in Bed is available online with many "before" and "after" clinical examination reports of Mr. Bennett.[8]

Following Sanford Bennett, facial exercises became the next fad with the rise of physical exercise. Advertisements and articles published in magazines featured women contorting their faces to sculpt a more defined face, with headlines like "How to Look as Young as a Girl" and "Make an Ugly Face be Beautiful."[9] Some names of the era known for using facial exercises included Kathryn Murray, Lillian Russell, Elinor Glyn.[10] Elinor Glyn wrote movie scripts in the 1920s to support her family, but was most famous for pioneering women's erotic literature, she was admired for her wrinkle-free skin, and wrote a book on facial exercises entitled "The Wrinkle Book".

After the wars, Jack LaLanne brought a whole new scope to exercise, including face toning and exercise. Opening the first fitness gym in 1936, LaLanne was an exercise guru long before Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons, he lived to be 96, and was still doing face exercises.[citation needed]

The modern style of facial exercise (professional face exercise, face pilates and face yoga) was developed in the late 1950s, and popularized in the 1960s by Senta Maria Runge in Face Lifting By Exercise (in its 12th edition as of 2013).[11] Runge's studio had thousands of testimonials posted on the walls from satisfied customers and television viewers.

Professional Face Exercises, Face Pilates and Face Yoga Exercises[edit]

Professional face exercises, face pilates or face yoga are types of facial exercise that work the muscles and the skin of the face using facial expressions and/or fingers (to move the face). Professional face exercises (designed by qualified professionals) use principles of anatomy and physiology to precisely engage facial muscles while protecting the skin. Yoga and pilates facial exercises use pilates and yoga techniques on the face, focused on relaxing facial muscles using "larger than life" expressions and laughter.[12] Routines are designed to rebuild and lift the muscles, improve skin condition, increase blood circulation,and relieve face and scalp tension and stress.[13]

In The Media
Since the 1960s, news shows and talk show hosts like Dr. Oz [14] have discussed its benefits often citing programs like Eva Fraser's and Carol Maggio's with celebrities like Madonna.[15] Celebrities that use face pilates include Reese Witherspoon,[16] Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Aniston.[17] Richard Hammond has tried the face exercises on the popular television program Top Gear.[18] Besides its current availability in a variety of online programs, studios, trainers and social media, professional face exercises and face pilates have broken into the mobile market as well with apps and ebooks dedicated to personalized face exercise experience in English and Spanish.[19]

Routines for Professional Face Exercises, Face Pilates and Yoga Exercise
Professional face exercises, Pilates and Yoga's resistance, use relaxation and toning techniques to manipulate the muscles on the face and neck, to exercise the face.[20] Routines may also involve breathing, stretching, and massaging. Routines work jowls, mouth, neck, cheek, eyes, chin, and forehead.[21] Exercises include sticking out the tongue, contracting the cheeks, puckering the lips, bending the head back, moving the nose from side to side, and raising the eyebrows.[22]

Science of Face Exercise

The science of facial exercise is studied in professional face exercise,[23] to increase toning capability of routines. Face exercises are a combination of both isometric and isotonic contraction. All body muscles respond to exercise with progressively stronger nerve impulses, to involve more fibres within the muscle. Regularly exercised muscles have a higher resting tone and a shorter, more compact shape, the effects of smaller, firmer and tighter muscles in the face result in improved contours with reduced sagging. Facial muscles are attached to the base layers of the dermis to enable facial expression, mastication and talking. Improved muscle tone also benefits the skin, which may also lift. Exercise increases blood flow to epidermis and dermis, bringing valuable nutrients (e.g. Vitamin C for the formation and maintenance of collagen) and an increase in the production and quality of skin cells, the increase in blood supply also reduces potential damage from free radicals, chemicals and bacteria. Excess fluid in the tissues is removed by the lymph fluid, reducing puffiness.

As an Alternative to Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgeries have been increasing, with botox rising as one of the top procedures amongst men and women.[24] The eyes, forehead, mouth, neck and nose are all areas that are prone to signs of aging, combated with more collagen, peels, tucks, and other forms of surgery or procedures,[25] although theoretically possible and endorsed by many devotees, the effectiveness of facial toning techniques are difficult to evaluate and prove scientifically. As these muscles are not prime movers, like any internal muscle additional resistance cannot be added, so the muscles will not gain considerable strength like muscles in the legs or arms.[26] However, face exercise does improve blood flow and has been shown to increase collagen biosynthesis in the skin.[27][28] Professional face exercises, Face pilates and yoga are about feeling young again without plastic surgeries such as a face lift, ear surgery, a nose job or eyelid surgery and act as a less invasive, natural alternative.[29]

Passive Face Exercises[edit]

Passive exercising by direct skeletal muscle electrostimulation. In this, flat metal electrodes smeared with a conductive gel are affixed to certain points in the face and an electrostimulation divide is used to generate waveforms which promote facial muscle contractions.

As Physical Therapy and Other Medical Benefits[edit]

Facial toning may not only be beneficial as a means of remaining looking youthful from the additional oxygen and nutrients supplied by the blood reaching the facial tissues but may also positively affect the functions of the sensory organs, (the eye, ears, nose and tongue) from increased stimulation of the neural pathways within the cranial nerve of the human brain that affect the sensory systems. Medically facial exercise is endorsed and encouraged by physicians to aid in recovery from Bell’s palsy[30] and other facial nerve paralysis caused by a stroke or trauma and post rhytidectomy surgery. The extra stimulus strengthens the neural pathways within the brain to improve facial nerve function and consequently the muscles to pull up the face, for the past 49 years in The People's Republic of China eye exercises have been compulsory twice daily in schools to combat myopia.[31] [32]


  1. ^ Freilinger G, Gruber H, Happak W, Pechmann U. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1987 Nov;80(5):686-90. “Surgical anatomy of the mimic muscle system and the facial nerve: importance for reconstructive and aesthetic surgery”[permanent dead link]. Department of Plastic Surgery, 2nd Surgical University Clinic, Vienna, Austria. Freilinger, G.; Gruber, H.; Happak, W.; Pechmann, U. (1987). "Surgical anatomy of the mimic muscle system and the facial nerve: Importance for reconstructive and aesthetic surgery". Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 80 (5): 686–690. PMID 3671560. doi:10.1097/00006534-198711000-00005. 
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  4. ^ Gary L. Grove, Ph.D., Stan W. Rimdzius, B.S., Charles R. Zerweck, Ph.D. "A Mechanically Aided Resistance Exercise Program for Sagging Facial Muscles." The Journal of Geriatric Dermatology 1994;2(5):152-158
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  8. ^ Bennett, Sanford (1907). Exercising in Bed (PDF). San Francisco: Bolte and Braden Company Press. pp. 265 pgs. 
  9. ^ Bennett, James. "Facial Gymnastics". Cosmetics and Skin. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Bennett, James. "Facial Gymnastics". Cosmetics and Skin. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  11. ^ Runge, Senta Maria (2011). Face Lifiting By Exercise. Los Angeles, California: Allegro Publishing Co. p. 144. ISBN 0960104224. 
  12. ^ Brassard, Susan. "Examples of Facial Exercises for Toning the Face". azCentral.com. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
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  15. ^ Maggio, Carole. "Top Celebrities Using Facercise Facial Exercises". Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  16. ^ Jaquet, Judith. "What is the Secret to Reese's Toned Face?". Vogue Italy. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
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  18. ^ BBC Television. "Top Gear Richard Hammond - with Irene Estry facial workout". BBC. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
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  27. ^ Lorelli, Anita. "The Effect of Movement and Exercise on Collagen, Muscles, and Connective Tissue". Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  28. ^ O'Rourke, Amanda. "Anti-Aging Myths and Facts". Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
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  31. ^ NBC NEWS. August 22, 2012 "Can Chinese eye exercises help prevent myopia? Behind The Wall. Retrieved September 2012 (subscription required)
  32. ^ "Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong: The GIANT List of 75 Worst Plastic Surgery". elitecelebsmag.com. Retrieved 2017-07-11.