Few of us have any understanding of our facial muscles, how they work and what part they play in the aging process.
But building your facial muscles through regular exercise can have a dramatic impact on how you look – you can look younger without invasive treatments.
The muscles in your face – properly toned and exercised – can decrease or even reverse the effects of aging.
Some of us have more face muscles than others
Science is still building an understanding of exactly how muscles work in the face. Until recently it was assumed that – like other muscles in the body – we all had the same number of muscles in our faces. In a 2008 study reported in Science Daily – scientists at the University of Portsmouth in the UK discovered that this simply wasn’t true – there was a wide variation.
“Everyone communicates using a set of common signals and so we would expect to find that the muscles do not vary among individuals. The results are surprising – in some individuals we found only 60 per cent of the available muscles.”
Dr Bridget Waller, University of Portsmouth published in The American Psychological Association Journal
According to the MedTerms Medical Dictionary we have 43 face muscles and this is a commonly accepted medical fact. What the 2008 research study revealed was that many people have up to another 14 muscles in addition to the 43 we all possess.
Face muscles express universal human emotions
The basic 43 face muscles which we all possess are those around the eyes, across the forehead, along the cheeks, under the mouth and above the mouth leading down to the chin. These muscles are used to convey the seven universal human emotions – anger, sadness, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt and happiness.
Your facial muscles are a bit like a thin patchwork quilt just below the surface of the skin. This thin layer of muscle is interconnected with bundles of fibres so they work together to give your face life and movement.
Face muscles are different to other muscles
The muscles in your face also differ form the muscles elsewhere in the body in the way they are structured. Body muscle is attached to bone via your tendons. Every muscle in your face is attached to your skin but only some of them are attached to bone as well.
“The face is also one of the few places in the body where some muscles are not attached to any bone at all”
David Matsumoto, Professor of Psychology, San Francisco State University
Two areas in your face where muscle is not attached to bone are around the eyes and the mouth. Not surprisingly these are parts of the face that can show the first (and worst) signs of age.
Facial aging a result of weakened muscle
The way your face muscle is structured is one of the main reasons why your face can so quickly start to betray your age.
As muscle mass and tone declines with age, weakened muscle pulls skin down with it and you get the sagging face syndrome we all know.
- eyelid “hooding” and eyebrow drooping
- increase in under eye puffiness
- sagging jawline and development of jowls
- nasal labial lines (between the lower part of your nose and the corners of your mouth) develop and deepen
- mouth corners start to turn down
- chin sags and double chin develops
This may seem like a bit of a depressing list – but don’t dispair. The facial sagging which you may have thought was something you had to live with can be vastly improved with regular exercise.
Exercising face muscles helps you look younger
“When you exercise, you tone and tighten the muscles in your body so why not apply the same principles to your face? Facial exercise is a medically sound method of achieving and maintaining a more youthful facial appearance…I’ve seen the results, and it works.”
Dr Mark Berman MD, President of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.
For any muscle to be taut and tight it has to be shortened through exercise. Without exercise the muscle lengthens and gets out of shape leading to flabbiness and loss of volume.
We know this to be true for our bodies but somehow we fail to apply the same understanding to our faces – it’s as if we think that our muscles stop at the neck.
Just like going to the gymn to get rid of your body flab – exercising the right face muscles can tighten, tone and lift your face and help prevent the signs of aging getting worse.