Ready to work your skin into shape? Michaela Williams on the routine that lets you om your way to your best complexion ever
The secret to smooth, flawless skin is not in a bottle, but in facial yoga.
Ever since yoga namaste-ed its way into pop culture and made the leap from your auntie’s favourite exercise to becoming the ultimate pastime of an activewear-clad Gwyneth Paltrow and friends, the centuries-old holistic practice has helped loosen hip abductors, increased core strength, and introduced at least four go-to poses for Instagrammable beach holiday snaps. And given that yoga delivers age-defying benefits for the body, it’s not too large of a leap to suggest that your face could see similar invigorating results, thanks to a regime dedicated to the complexion.
While ‘The Giraffe’ and ‘The Swan Neck’ both sound like legitimate body-bending poses, they’re both attributed to the art of face yoga. Counting Stella McCartney, Naomi Campbell and Jennifer Aniston among its celebrity followers, the mat-free method makes a pretty compelling argument for encouraging good skin health. Danielle Collins, creator of the Danielle Collins Face Yoga Method (find the moves on her app), describes it as ‘a natural face lift’, promising results for the diligent. The British specialist says her method, developed alongside years of experience as a yoga instructor, can even reduce the call of a face-lift or Botox needle, with her clients finding themselves happier in their own skin.
Face yoga ‘is a natural way of looking and feeling younger and healthier with an added sense of relaxation and well-being,’ explains Collins. ‘It is a combination of face exercises, face massage, face acupressure and face relaxation, [and] also focuses on well-being techniques for the mind, body and soul.’ The London-based therapist says that her routine takes just 20 minutes to complete, with ten minutes each dedicated to your face’s upper and lower portions, and working all 57 muscles in the face and neck.
It’s fair to say that we’re no strangers to trifling skincare trends (hello, vampire facials, snail slime creams and nightingale poop masques), but face yoga goes one better, with its roots firmly planted in both the holistic practice, and traditional massage techniques. Face yoga works with the muscles on the bottom layer and the collagen, elastin and connective tissue in the middle layer of skin, so it gives your face structure, support and strength as well as lifting, firming and smoothing. ‘Our faces benefit from exercising the muscles,’ explains Collins. ‘It is also important to relax these muscles to smooth the skin.’ She says that the gentle movement helps to reduce and prevent lines and wrinkles, by encouraging production of collagen and elastin in the face, which plump and firm, and boosting circulation for an immediate healthy glow. We won’t be binning our night cream in favour of pulling funny faces either, with the slow movements working as an ideal companion to your usual moisturising routine, enhancing the effectiveness of both the product and the exercises.
‘Many skincare products just sit on the top layer of skin, which means your skin gets hydrated but you don’t see results in terms of lifting, firming and smoothing,’ explains Collins. She says that a rich oil or cream will absorb into the skin better thanks to the repetitive motions, and warmth of your hands and face, allowing the product to sink deeper into the skin.
Massaging and stretching the face is hardly a new concept, with spas and salons incorporating their own techniques into treatments. Iryna Holovan, founder of Splendida Ladies Salon and Spa Club in Dubai, says that she includes an aspect of massage in each of her spa’s facial treatments, due to a multitude of benefits. ‘Facial massage helps to lift the muscles of the face, to brighten and tone up the skin [and] it also helps the treatment ingredients to penetrate deeper into the skin tissues for a better result,’ she points out. ‘It improves the natural production of collagen
and elastin [adding to] the elasticity and softness of the skin, as well as reducing the fine lines and wrinkles. It also improves facial blood circulation and helps reduces migraines.’
Holovan combines a number of facial stretching and massaging techniques: Effleurage (light tapping or pounding of the skin), vibration (a fine tremulous movement made by hands to cause the skin to vibrate) and friction (a repetitive, non-gliding technique that produces movement between the fibres of dense tissue).
But taking to facial yoga with a little too much vigour could have the opposite effect, warns Renata Muszula. The beauty advisor and trainer for skincare brand Biodroga MD, which launches its facials at Browz in The Mall, Jumeirah soon, says that rough handling can reduce elasticity, damage the skin’s collagen and break capillaries.
‘Pulling at the skin is not good for its flexibility and texture,’ she says. ‘It is important to be very soft and very gentle with the face, and not to roughly pull or poke it.’ Muszula agrees that face yoga has skin-firming and de-stressing benefits, but says it’s important to know how to perform the movements correctly. ‘The skin on the face and neck is very fine, and it’s best to be shown by a pro how to handle it. We would use an essence, and would apply it at the base of the neck and stroke upwards to help tighten the skin in that direction. If you were to pull down, this would do more harm than good.’