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Facial Exercise Introduction

I'm going to show you five exercises for the muscles of the face and neck. These few exercises if they are done correctly and every day will greatly improve the look and expressiveness of your face. Since I'm not selling a facial exercise program (or anything), I don't have to make promotional claims like - a few minutes a day and you'll see amazing positive changes in your face in just a few weeks. Drivel like this is confusing because in reality facial muscles and the skin covering them do not respond to easy shortterm solutions. Unlike the skeletal muscles of the body, the facial muscles are directly attached to the skin that covers them. (They are also attached to other facial muscles and to bone.) When these facial muscles start to lose their tone and elasticity because of age and gravity, the skin that is attached to them starts to sag. This of course gives the look you don't want to see reflected back to you in the bathroom mirror. But these exercises are not for men and women whose idea of self-improvement is to pop a multivitamin pill or to inject Botox into the muscles of the forehead. The facial exercise program that I advocate will require some dedication, some persistence - some work. You'll get results from the program though. You'll like what you see in the mirror after even several months. Before I show you the exercises, I'd like you to study the anatomy of the face, neck, and head. This greatly simplified course in facial anatomy will show you exactly the areas the exercises will focus on.

The Facial Map

don't think this graphic looks too intimidating. If I had left in the names of all 46 facial muscles, though, it would have been overwhelming. In the pages that follow I'll be discussing these listed muscles as well as a few less important muscles. I'll also be showing you how to gain control of these muscles, and muscle groups, and how to tone them up.

Elaboration of Facial Map

You should work all the muscle groups of the face so that the toning up and building up of facial muscles will be symmetrical. These are the muscle groups you'll be working on: The muscles that surround the eyes - the circular orbicularis oculi muscles. When these muscles are worked, the small eyelid (palpebral) muscles are also worked, preventing hooded eyelids. The muscle that surrounds the mouth - the circular orbicularis oris muscle. When this muscle is worked correctly, other smaller muscles of expression, like the zygomaticus, the buccinator, and the risorius are also worked. The muscle of the chin - the mentalis muscle. When this muscle is exercised, the muscles at the front of the neck will also be brought into play. The muscles at the front of the neck - the platysma and sternomastoid muscles. These muscles when they are toned up give a vigorous, vibrant, youthful appearance to a person. The muscles of the head - the frontalis and occipitalis muscles at the front and back of the head. When the occipitalis muscle is brought under control and toned up, it will give a pleasing lift to the eyebrows. Gaining control of this muscle, especially for women, involves some hard work. Once the exercise for this muscle is mastered, though, it's easy to do and even refreshing. The jaw muscles - the masseter and others. You don't have to be concerned about these because they get enough exercise when you chew food. The five exercises that follow will give you a natural, noninvasive program for rebuilding and maintaining tone in all the facial muscle groups.

Exercise One - Muscles Under Eyes

The exercise for the muscles that surround the eyes looks deceptively easy. The basic exercise is easy. It's done by just partially winking one eye at a time, and holding the wink for a second, and then repeating the movement. I suggest 50 repetitions. (I do two sets of 50 repetitions.) There is no need to scrunch up the skin in the crow's feet area when doing this exercise, but there is the need to contract firmly both the orbicularis oculi muscles around each eye and the nasalis muscles that are on each side of the nasal bone. There is an advanced version of this exercise that is more effective but you have to gain control of the occipitalis muscle at the back of the head to do it. I discuss gaining control of this important muscle when I describe exercise 5 for the scalp muscles. I'll tell you how to do the advanced exercise then. I put this exercise first among the five exercises because the first indication that we are getting older is those lines that form in the skin around the eyes. (The skin around the eyes is the thinnest and most delicate of the whole body.) This exercise will definitely not eliminate the fine lines but it will make them less noticeable. Before doing any facial exercise you should apply some lubricant to the area around the muscles being exercised. I splash some water on my face before doing the exercises. You may want to apply a film of mineral oil or some other moisturizer to your skin before you start. Don't do any of these exercises with a dry face.

Exercise One, Part B

This exercise for the muscles around the eyes might be even better because you will feel these muscles contract strongly when you do it right.

1. Press your fingers onto your temple area and slightly pull them back. This puts tension on the muscles that surround the eyes, and it also prevents lines around the eyes from forming as you do the exercise.

2. Now, with your fingers giving resistance to the muscles around you eyes, close your eyes tightly. You will feel these muscles working strongly as you hold the contraction perhaps a second or even more . Do as many repetitions as you feel comfortable with. I usually do three sets of twenty reps. This exercise will get rid of any bagginess around the lower eyelids and will probably get rid of any hooded upper eyelids too. But improvement will take time. Don't believe those optimistic statements about rejuvenation in a few weeks. Muscles and skin take time to respond.

Exercise Two - Muscle Around Mouth

The exercise for the orbicularis oris, the circular muscle around the mouth, is not a gentle one. The gentle ones produce no positive results; this one does. Although it looks like I'm stretching my mouth and therefore the muscles surrounding the mouth, I am not. Alternating contraction and relaxation develop muscle, not stretching. In fact, stretching of the facial muscles may not be good for the overlying skin. I do this exercise when I shave in the morning. Before doing it I splash a lot of water on my face. (Never exercise the facial muscles without lubricating the skin either with water or oil.) Now I insert my index fingers into my mouth exerting a steady pull on the corners of the mouth. (Be sure to have clean hands when doing this exercise.) You do not need to get much extension and contraction of the orbicularis oris muscle. I get less than a quarter inch. This small amount of movement will strengthen the muscles around the mouth and, especially in women, make the lips look fuller. It will in no way, though, change the essential shape of the mouth. When this exercise is done correctly, it is both an isotonic exercise and an isometric exercise. It is isotonic because there is a change in the length of the muscle; it is isometric because you will hold the contraction of each rep for a second or two - in other words, the muscle will maintain a constant length as you hold the contraction. To restate all this - you will:

Pull the mouth with the index fingers getting perhaps a quarter to three/eights of an inch of movement. You will hold the contraction of the orbicularis oris muscle for a second or two. You will then contract the orbicularis oris even more strongly until the index fingers get closer together.

I usually do two sets of 25 to 50 repetitions. But I suggest starting this exercise slowly, concentrating on form. Don't be in too much of a hurry to do a marathon mouth workout.

Exercise Three - Chin Muscle

Don't let my ridiculous expression scare you. I don't advise doing this exercise in public because you'll look like an idiot. The exercise is an effective one, though, because it really does tone up the chin and the front of the neck.

You don't have to look this grim while you're doing the exercise. Still it is not wise to do it in front of your significant other. One does have to keep some semblance of dignity. Splash some water on your face or apply some lubricant to the skin around the chin and mouth. Now you're ready:

Elevate the lower lip. This will wrinkle the skin of the chin. If you place your finger firmly on the mentalis muscle you will feel that it is contracted. Hold this contraction for a second.

Now strongly lower the chin to the position you see in the photo. Hold this contraction for a second. Do not move the head though. The head remains stationary throughout the exercise.

Do this exercise maintaining good form for ten or twelve repetitions. I usually do two or three sets of ten reps.

While you're doing this exercise, you'll feel the muscles at the front of the neck (the platysma) working hard along with the chin muscle. Keeping these two muscle groups in good shape is important to ward off the dreaded turkey-neck syndrome and platysmal banding.

Exercise Four - Front of Neck

This exercise firms up the area at the front of the neck where aging first leaves its mark of deterioration. Here's how to do it:

In the sitting (I do it in the sitting) or standing position, tilt your head back the way you see me doing in the photo.

While tilting your head back, press your tongue into the roof of your mouth. This tightens up all the muscles at the front of your neck.

Now bring your chin down toward your neck while still holding the tongue against the roof of your mouth.

That's all there is to it. If you are doing it right, you will feel a tightness under the chin and in the front of the neck. Check this out with your fingers. Does your platysma muscle feel tense while you are moving your head up and down? You are doing the exercise right.

Loose Skin or Excess Skin

So what if your platysma and sternomastoid muscles are well-developed and tight with little or no overlying fat - but there is still excess skin, a fleshy lobe hanging down from the throat or chin - the turkey wattle. (The neck often ages before the face.) Cervicoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes excess or loose skin from the front of the neck. It involves a small incision below the chin and perhaps behind the ears. The excess skin is then neatly trimmed and tightened up. The results for this simple procedure can last over ten years, at which point a touch up may be needed. During the surgery excess fat may also be removed with a suction device - liposuction. All this will sharpen up the chin and jaw line, taking years off a person's appearance. The recovery time for these procedures in usually less than two weeks, and there is only a small chance for complications like infection or scarring. I've never had any cosmetic surgery, but if I had a turkey wattle loosely hanging down from my throat, I certainly would make an appointment with a competent surgeon. I would check on the surgeon's credentials and find out the price before I signed any forms though.

Exercise Five - Scalp Exercise

This exercise for the scalp muscles is an effective one for lifting the eyebrows and giving a general lift to the whole upper face. But it is an exceptionally hard exercise for most women to learn and to do correctly. Men seem to have an easier time learning it. This page is going to be long because the scalp exercise (SE) will entail a lot of explanation. The learning process would be straightforward if the scalp muscles at the back of the head were easy to control. They are not. These muscles, the occipitalis muscles, are technically voluntary but people usually have lost control of them. When they are not used they get small (they atrophy), almost to the point of disappearing. The task now is to regain control of them, to tone them up, and to make them stronger. I think the following suggestions will lessen the difficulty in gaining control of these stubborn occipitalis muscles. First, a bit of trivia. Twice as many men compared to women can wiggle their ears. This has significance. If a man or a woman can wiggle the ears, it means that there is contraction of the muscles at the back of the head. These are the muscles that must be alternately contracted with the muscles at the front of the head during the scalp exercise.

The Learning Process

Step number one in the learning process: Stand in front of the mirror and raise your eyebrows (contract the frontalis muscles). Step number two: Try to pull back your ears (contract the

occipitalis muscles). There will be only a small, almost imperceptible, movement at first when you are trying to pull back your ears. The contraction of the muscles at the front of the head will be easy. These muscles are fully voluntary; the muscles at the back of the head will require a lot of work. Try to visualize the muscles at the back of the head by looking at the drawing of the scalp muscles. Now place your fingers over the two muscular slips of the occipitalis muscle at the back of the head and try to detect contraction when you move the scalp.

Here's a strategy for gaining control of the occipitalis muscles that many people have found helpful: Lie on a bed with the back of your head resting on a pillow. Now as you attempt to pull your ears back you will feel even the slightest contraction of these muscles. The pillow acts as a monitor giving you sensory biofeedback. This biofeedback will eventually enable you to gain complete control of the occipitalis muscles. Once even a little control is established, full control will be close behind. The first steps in the learning process of muscle control are the hardest. But after some initial small gains, huge progress will be made in just a few days. Dont get discouraged. Some people learn how to control the scalp muscles fast; others take a little (or even a lot) longer, but everybody eventually gets it.

Lines on the forehead

I'm sure the big question many of you will have is this: Will the scalp exercise form horizontal and vertical lines in the forehead? The SE will not form these lines; in fact, it will probably get rid of the lines that already may be there. But just my pronouncement on this will not be enough to allay your fears. I want to give you convincing physiological reasons - reasons that I hope will make sense. When you look at people who have deep horizontal lines etched into their foreheads, you will notice that their scalp muscles are almost immobile. Look at President Bush or Olympia Snowe,

the senator from Maine. Their frontalis muscles are set in stone: they are in a permanent state of contraction. The medical name for this static muscle condition is "contracture." This fixed position of groups of facial muscles is responsible for many of the deep expression lines that form on people's faces. When you do the scalp exercise correctly, your frontalis and occipitalis muscles will become pliable. You will no longer have that fixed rigid appearance on your forehead. It is that fixed rigidity that contributes to the formation of deep lines. By doing the scalp exercise correctly, I mean getting the full alternate contraction of both the frontalis and occipitalis muscles. When you finally gain control of the occipitals, you will get an additional benefit. A strong, toned-up occipitalis pulls up and back on the upper face, smoothing out any horizontal or vertical lines that may have been in the forehead. This will also give you higher eyebrows. Low eyebrows and drooping hooded eyelids are one of the first signs of aging. These signs of age will be postponed or even reversed when you develop the occipitalis muscles.

How Many Reps?

I don't worry about repetitions. I do about five minutes - sometimes more, sometimes less. Many facial exercise programs tell you to do five or ten reps of a certain exercise. "A few minutes a day and your face will be rejuvenated." Don't believe it. You'll have to determine for yourself what works and feels comfortable, but don't opt for the easy way out. Doing a few delicate moves won't get the job done.

A Positive Side Effect

The scalp exercise if it's done correctly and often will make your hair look more luxuriant. This side effect won't be evident for many months though. It takes a lot of time for the hair follicles to respond to any type of program because they have to go through the various stages of the hair cycle. So how long is "a lot of time"? I hope six or eight months does not sound too depressing. If you want faster results, I'm sure you'll find products advertised on the Internet that will guarantee "satisfaction" is just weeks.

The Advanced Orbicularis Oculi Exercise

In the description for exercise one - muscles under the eyes - I said there was also an advanced form of this exercise. The advanced form is not easy but once mastered it is more effective than the basic exercise. It is effective for not just toning up the muscle around the eyes but actually building up these expressive muscles. Contract the occipitalis muscles at the back of the head, and keep them contracted while doing perhaps twenty to thirty reps of winking one eye and then the other. You'll feel the orbicularis oculi muscles working hard as you do this advanced exercise. This means that they are getting stronger. Two sets of twenty reps is sufficient.

Please read the tips on doing the scalp exercise in the sidebar, especially the one about lubricating your forehead before doing the exercise.

Here's a tip from CM in response to a woman on the Discussion Forum. I know this is going to be helpful to people who can't get any action in those tough to control muscles at the back of the head.
So this is how it goes: First you raise your eyebrows thus contracting your frontalis. Then you return your eyebrows back to their normal place. Now you contract your occipitalis thus moving your ears back, and then relax the occipitalis before doing the eyebrow movement again. So it's eyebrows up, then down (or back to place). And then ears back then forward (or back to place). Engage frontalis, relax, then engage occipitalis, relax. I found I had to think aloud and watch myself in the mirror initially to get the rhythm going. But I must confess that for years, (long before I joined the forum or knew of it) I did the scalp exercise without engaging my frontalis. I had no idea this was part of the exercise. As your muscles get stronger, you'll be able to do what Tom can do. When he contracts his frontalis, not only do his eyebrows move up, but his entire scalp seems to be pulled forward as the muscles of his forehead contract. Then when his occipitalis contract, his scalp is clearly pulled back. His hair moves back and forth so much that if you didn't know he had a thick head of hair, you'd swear he had a furry animal on his head doing a dance he learned from one of Tom's dance classes.

Pretty cool to see indeed.

Expression Lines
The folds, creases, ridges, and grooves that comprise the expression lines are a problem for people who want to maintain a youthful appearance. Anatomists call these lines sulci (the singular of this term is sulcus). I think certain facial exercises can prevent these lines from becoming deep and pronounced. But before we get into the preventive and corrective measures, I'd like you to look closely at these folds of skin.

The philtral ridges are the central grooves on the external surface of the upper lip. These of course are not expression lines but they do give the mouth character. A pronounced philtrum usually means a well-defined Cupid's bow on the upper lip. The shape and definition of the philtrum is genetically determined. There is nothing that facial exercises can do to change the shape of the philtrum. Facial exercises if done correctly and often can forestall the deepening of nasolabial, buccolabial, and mentolabial folds though. Sometimes these exercises can even reverse the deepening process. There is controversy, however, about the statement I just made. Later on I'll present a contrarian point of view by Paula Begoun who believes that facial exercise will deepen expression lines and in general will have a deteriorating effect on the face.

Take a look at this extraordinary face. This woman has shallow nasolabial folds. These folds definitely give character to her face but because they are shallow, they do not detract from her youthful appearance. Look also at her well-developed orbicularis oculi muscles - the circular muscles around the eyes. These give her an alluring, seductive appeal.

And how about the Terminator? His facial muscles are so toned up that the nasolabial fold is almost invisible till he smiles. His face will probably look good till he's an old man because of a natural muscularity and a healthy life style. Give up the Cuban cigars, Arnold.

Clint Eastwood has never put on an ounce of fat. His face is lean but his nasolabial fold is distinct giving his face, at least in his "Dirty" Harry Callahan persona, a no-nonsense look. Men and (some) women respond to such faces. They command attention. Actors who use facial muscles to express emotion - an excellent form of facial exercise - usually retain young-looking faces until late in their careers. Marlon Brando had these same lean wrinkle-

free facial features till the year when he put on massive amounts of weight. Facial exercise cannot undo the ravages of excess weight. Gravity takes it toll, often with extreme rapidity, on people who gain weight. If these people then lose large amounts of weight, it might not help the face, especially after the age of thirty - the damage has already been done. But if a person keeps a reasonable body weight and keeps the facial muscles toned up, the face can continue to look relatively young into advanced age.

Contrary Opinion
Almost everyone I know believes that exercise keeps all areas of the body in good shape. But most of these same people would not even consider doing facial exercises to keep all areas of the face in good shape. Why is there this reluctance to do the same thing for the face as we do for the body? Paula Begoun, a woman I respect for her intelligence and honesty, thinks that facial exercises are actually harmful to the face. But I'm going to let Paula who has written many fine books on skin and hair care speak for herself:

I am completely bewildered by the enthusiasm facial exercises seem to generate. I get swarms of letters from women telling me that I have my non-exercised head screwed on wrong when I suggest that facial exercises don't work. But is there any research that explains the mania surrounding all this stretching of the face muscles? For the most part, facial exercises are more a problem for skin than a help. Facial exercises provide little or no benefit because loss of muscle tone is not a major cause of wrinkles or sagging skin. In fact, muscle tone is barely involved in these at all. The skin's sagging and drooping are caused by four major factors: Deteriorated collagen and elastin (due primarily to sun damage); Depletion of the skin's fat layer (a factor of genetic aging and gravity); Repetitive facial movement (particularly true for the forehead frown lines and for smile lines from the nose to the mouth); Muscle sagging due to the loosening of facial ligaments that hold the muscles in place. Facial exercise is not helpful for worn-out collagen, elastin, or the skin's fat layer, because none of that is about the muscles. It is especially not helpful for the lines caused by facial movement! Instead, facial exercises only make those areas appear more lined. The reason Botox injections into the muscles of the forehead and facial lines work to create a smoother face is because Botox prevents the muscles from moving!

These paragraphs are from Paula's excellent book The Beauty Bible, page 215. I strongly recommend the 2nd Edition of this book to all women who want straight talk about beauty problems. That's Paula below looking great even though she hates facial exercises.

Since I'm not selling a facial exercise program, I don't have to try to destroy the credibility of Paula Begoun on this topic or to misrepresent her point of view. She presents her argument against facial exercise clearly, cogently - and honestly. You, the reader of the material on this site, will have to make up your own mind as to what is best for your face. For people who prefer not to exercise, Paula's rationale will be welcome news. And, by the way, Botox, which Paula mentions, does work. It gives the person injected a smooth brow - but it leaves the upper part of the face almost expressionless because the muscles in this area are at first just deadened and later become atrophied.

Credit to: http://www.shapeyourface.com

When you do the occipitalis contraction, your forehead will appear to move up a little from the scalp moving back, which at first led me to think I had to raise eyebrows while contracting occipitalis but I found that so hard and really impossible, coz it was antagonistic. I decided to return to only working the occipitalis, never involving the frontalis. But after I got Tom's CD video and saw him do it, I finally, fully got it. I hope this helps.