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How Facial Yoga Can Make You Look 3 Years Younger

From TIME - January 4, 2018

You know that exercise can help keep your body looking healthy and youthful as you age. Now, dermatologists say that a facial exercise regimen can have similar benefits above the neck: Women who followed a 30-minute facial yoga routine several times a week appeared nearly three years younger after 20 weeks, according to a research letter published in JAMA Dermatology.

Interest in so-called facial yoga has grown in recent years, largely because of claims that it can rejuvenate the aging face, presumably by inducing underlying muscle growth, the authors of the new paper wrote. Until now, however, there have been no published clinical trials to assess whether these types of exercises really can improve appearance of the skin and facial features.

So dermatologists and researchers from Northwestern University teamed up with Gary Sikorski, the creator of Happy Face Yoga, to test his technique out on a small group of middle-aged women who wanted to look younger. The women were between 40 and 65 and had mild to moderate facial atrophyanother word for thinning and sagging skinrelated to aging and sun damage.

The study participants all attended two training sessions with Sikorski himself and learned 32 distinct facial exercises that each take about a minute to perform. They were instructed to do these exercises at home every day for eight weeks. After that, they were told to continue practicing every other day.

The participants were photographed at the beginning of the study, at the eight-week point, and at the end of 20 weeks. Afterward, the photographs were shown to dermatologists who did not know the order in which they were taken. They were asked to assess 19 different facial features and estimate the womans age in each photo.

According to the dermatologists ratings, the womens upper and lower cheeks both became fuller over the course of the study. The women also appeared younger by the end of the program: The average perceived age of participants was 50.8 before the exercise regimen began, 49.6 at the eight-week mark, and 48.1 after 20 weeks.

Lead author Dr. Murad Alam, vice chair and professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says that facial exercises improve appearance because they enlarge and strengthen facial muscles. The face becomes firmer and more toned and shaped like a younger face, he said in a press release.

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