Lockdown opened our eyes to a lot of things; our penchant for banana bread for one, a skill for at-home hair removal for another and most recently the need for facial exercises, the latest of which is Face Pilates. Face Yoga, which exercises the muscles in the face with a touch of meditation, has been around for a while, but what is Face Pilates?
It’s a series of exercises that require you to actively engage your facial muscles to achieve a natural facelift. “Face Pilates tones and strengthens your facial muscles to prevent sagging of the skin, improving joint mobility and releasing tension in the jaw, neck and shoulders,” explains Carme Farré, Pilates teacher and founder of facial fitness programme FaceToned , whose workouts are all app-based; you subscribe to a monthly or a yearly membership, just like you do with any other online gym.
Carme developed the method based on Pilates principles; you use a variety of isometric, isotonic and stretching techniques to exercise the facial muscles. Through this technique, you are taught to isolate the muscles you want to work on and to relax the rest the same way you would in Pilates.
How often do I need to do Face Pilates?
Face Pilates workouts tend to be around 20 to 25 minutes long and ideally should be done daily, says Carme. The more work you put in, the better the results will be.
What happens in a Face Pilates class?
Just like an exercise class, facial Pilates sessions begin with a warm-up, followed by the exercises and finally a cool down.
Before the exercise you will normally apply a serum or facial oil to help your hands slip around the face more easily, allowing you to perform vigorous knuckling movements to boost the lymphatic system without dragging the skin. Face Pilates comprises of exercises to target all areas including lifting the brows, sculpting the cheekbones and tightening the jowls.
The sessions comprise of resistance training, stretching and then a manual massage to finish. "You engage muscles throughout the online classes for over 20 minutes and you feel the muscles working out. One of the key points is to make sure each class is different so the client is never bored and the muscles don’t get used to the same movements. The face is so complex that if you want to improve your jowls or neck, you need to start working out your nose," she continues.
Face Pilates moves
Core Lift - tones the core, neck and lips
Lengthen the neck, bringing the tip of the tongue between the top lip and teeth, pressing against each other. Keeping the pressure constant, circle the tip of the tongue right, down, left and up four times and then change direction. Perform three times.
Triangle Toner - tones the 'youth triangle' of the cheeks and lower eyelids
Lengthen the neck, place both index fingers next to the outside lower area of the eyes and slightly pull to the sides up towards the temple. Keeping this position, squint and relax as you pulse the lower eyelid eight times, making sure that the upper eyelid does not move. Then keep the squint for eight counts and relax. Perform three times.
Forehead Smoother - tones the forehead, softening wrinkle lines
Place both index fingers just above eyebrows and hold them firmly in place. Pulse the forehead up and down eight times, while resisting with your index fingers. Then keep the lift for eight counts and relax. Perform three times.
Lower Facelift - advanced exercise that tones the neck, cheeks and jowls
Lengthen the neck upwards and bring the chin up slightly holding your collarbones with your hands and slightly pulling down. Now bring the chin
forward and slightly up so to hold the top lip with lower teeth, then try to touch the tip of the nose with your lower lip. Now, lift up the corners of the mouth and pulse up and slightly down as if smiling for eight counts. Hold this position for eight counts and then relax. Perform three times.
Do you need equipment for Face Pilates?
We’re used to carting around a mat for exercise classes but tools aren’t essential in face exercises. It’s the movement of the facial muscles that really gets them working but if you want to encourage the product to really sink in you can always add a roller or a gua sha tool in.
How quickly will I see results?
Unlike slogging away at the gym, facial Pilates produces results fairly quickly. "Some clients can see the glow after just a few sessions of face Pilates," says Carme.
Other facial exercises to try
Similarly to face Pilates, facial yoga works out the many muscles in the face to lift, sculpt and tighten, but it has a self-care vibe to it with relaxation activities such as breathwork, visualisation and meditation alongside facial massage, explains Camilla Bankes of Luminous Face Yoga, a membership website offering facial workouts for £29.99 a year.
When it comes to face yoga, Camilla suggests practising for 15 minutes, six days per week to see results, but points out that one time poor days you can fit the exercises in any when in your day, be it waiting for the kettle to boil, on the school run or while you’re watching TV.
“After two to four months of facial yoga you should notice a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles and between six and nine months people have reported they look and feel several years younger, as well as feeling more relaxed and energised,” says Camilla.
Face Gym facial exercises
FaceGym offers facial workouts in studios and online too, but a little more vigorous than Pilates or yoga, with exercises including "cheek burpees" and knuckle massage. “Most FaceGym clients see results straight away in hydration, lift and glow but for longterm results, you need to keep at it,” says Inge Tjeron, founder of FaceGym.
GTG's Commercial Projects Manager Catherine Fulwood is a face exercise convert and was a regular at Face Gym in North London before lockdown.
"I became addicted to Facegym last year; I always got so many compliments on how glowing my skin was after my visits, during which I had the Signature Sculp , so I was a little bit panicked when lockdown hit and I couldn't go anymore. Then I discovered their weekly Instagram Lives; over 2000 people were tuning in for a 45-minute workout. Every Monday they hosted a class focused on working a different area, be that a double chin, crows feet or the ever-popular cheekbone sculpting.
"The Lives were structured much like when you visit the studio, with the full attention on one side first, so you can really see a noticeable difference right away, it's been especially helpful with puffiness and dullness which I have been suffering a lot with of late. You don't strictly need any products or tools for the sessions, our hands are more than enough, but I definitely was sold on the gold derma roller , £40, and the gua sha stone , £38, which makes the whole experience feel a little more luxurious! The obsession even reached a point where I decided to host a Zoom call to teach all my friends my new found skills, I *think* they enjoyed it.
"The real turning point for me, however, was when the stress of being cooped up caused me to get severe tooth and jaw pain, which I later discovered was due to grinding my teeth at night, the finger hook move I learnt allowed me to ease all my tension and the knots and was an absolute lifesaver."