While aging is a phenomenon that's natural, expected, and good, it's okay to try products and routines that promise younger-looking skin. Of course, there are cosmetic procedures you can undertake to smooth wrinkles, lift the skin, and more, but plastic surgery isn't for everyone. In that case, try facial exercises, which, according to The New York Times, have been lauded for providing results that some people call "nonsurgical face-lifts."
If that doesn't convince you to include a facial exercise habit into your beauty routine, maybe you need some scientific proof—like this new study recently published in JAMA Dermatology. In it, researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago investigated the efficacy of facial massage in preventing or reversing the physical signs of aging in middle-aged women's faces. The results were kind of insane. Keep scrolling to see a before-and-after photo from the study.
The first picture was taken before the participant began the facial exercises. The second image was taken during the eight-week mark. The third was taken at the 20-week mark. As you can see, the study participant's cheeks look plumper and lifted, and lines around the mouth and eyes are significantly reduced. And this is only after a few months.
The researchers introduced each participant to Gary Sikorski, who developed Happy Face Yoga, and taught the participants 32 facial exercises meant to strengthen the muscles in the face that might be weakened from age. After each participant learned the exercises, they were asked to continue them on their own for a half hour each day over eight weeks. Photos were taken before participants were told to do the exercises every other day for 12 more weeks.
After the full 20 weeks were complete, the images were shown to dermatologists who inspected the results and guessed the women's ages. The average age they ranked the women at the start of the study was 51 years old. After 20 weeks, the average age they guessed for each woman was 48. "The improvement was actually greater than I had expected,” said Murad Alam, MD, the vice chairman of dermatology at Northwestern University.
While the study was small with only 16 women completing the full 20-week program, it's definitely promising. "It's a nontoxic, inexpensive, and self-administered therapy," he said, "and I suspect it would be hard to hurt yourself." With that being said, always be gentle on your face, no matter if you're applying a face mask or working your muscles to defy gravity and time. Only do as much as you see fit, without straining or putting pressure on it. And if you're inspired to take on a facial exercise routine, you're in luck.