The facial massage craze is definitely on the rise these days, as we’ve all seen those pretty #shelfie posts on Instagram featuring crystal rollers and gua sha sculpting tools in every color. And while these ready-to-use facial massage tools can be purchased at retailers such as Target or Amazon, facial workout studios are now a thing.
But are they actually worth your money? We talked to experts on all sides of the issue to get to the bottom of it.
The benefits of face workouts, according to the founder of FaceGym.
The founder of FaceGym, a noninvasive facial workout studio with 11 locations worldwide, suggested that face workouts take the concept of facial massage ― and anti-aging cosmetic treatments ― to a new level.
She claims that with face workouts, “you don’t need to jump straight into a face lift when you get to the age when facials stop working, as there are noninvasive treatments which exclusively focus on the muscles,” FaceGym founder Inge Theron told HuffPost. “That’s where FaceGym comes in, as our studio is a distillation of 11 years of beauty research, writing and personal experience.”
Unlike traditional cosmetic procedures available through a board-certified dermatologist, Theron suggested that facial workouts offered at FaceGym are a bit different: They combine skin-boosting technology (radio frequency, electrical muscle stimulation, Skin IVs and cryotherapy) with high-intensity sports massage. This helps tighten, tone, sculpt and lift the face, she said, giving it a tighter and more radiant appearance.
Prices at FaceGym vary depending on the treatment you choose, ranging from $70 to $340, and can be customized with add-on skin boosters and vitamin shots.
“There is no down time after any of our workouts,” she said. “The only redness associated with a workout is from the increased oxygenation and blood flow to the skin ― similar to the flush you have after a run or Spin class.”
However, though facial workout studios like FaceGym may be a budding trend in the skin care space, we tapped four board-certified plastic surgeons (plus two board-certified dermatologists) to see if intensive facial massage treatments like these have any benefits.
There’s one major potential downside.
Many facial workout studios claim to eliminate puffiness and define your cheekbones, but board-certified facial plastic surgeon Gary Linkov warns that many of these treatments can actually spell more trouble for your skin than you would initially think.
Wrinkles, he explained to HuffPost, are one of the greatest risks associated with facial workouts, as increased facial muscle movements can actually lead to the formation of more wrinkles.
“With increased facial muscle movement, there is always the risk of the formation of more wrinkles,” Linkov said. “Since these exercises are targeting muscles, this is something to keep in mind.”
Medical experts say the potential benefits are minor and temporary.
Although noninvasive facials come with the risk of wrinkles, board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman suggested that there are some positives associated with the treatments.
“Any treatment (or procedure) which hydrates, stimulates the facial muscles, tones and tightens is definitely worth a shot,” Jaliman told HuffPost. “However, I would consult with a physician first before trying any new procedure.”
And though workout facials may improve circulation in the face, Alan Matarasso, immediate past president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, explained that they really don’t do much else to prevent signs of aging.
“It’s unlikely that trying to enlarge the many facial muscles by exercise can do anything to lift loose skin or prevent the signs of aging,” Matarasso told HuffPost.
Board-certified dermatologist Morgan Rabach suggested that, even though noninvasive massage facials like these can help increase blood flow in the face, this plumping effect won’t last long.
“Noninvasive facials may help plump the skin temporarily, if the technician is massaging the skin and increasing blood flow to the area, or if they are using something like hyaluronic acid,” Rabach suggested. “However, these results tend to be short-lived and are unproven scientifically.”
Similarly, celebrity plastic surgeon Gary Motykie explained that noninvasive facials may promote lymphatic drainage, but the effect isn’t long-lasting.
“Treatments at face gyms may also focus on forms of lymphatic drainage and mobilizing fluids from the face,” Motykie told HuffPost. “When the face is drained, it is going to look slimmer and more contoured, but again ― these results are very temporary.”
Should you try a facial workout?
Board-certified plastic surgeon Joshua Zuckerman suggested that these treatments aren’t exactly what they seem.
“Consumers should be extremely wary of facial workout studios offering magical, noninvasive, non-pharmacological facial rejuvenation,” Zuckerman told HuffPost. “Not only do they have no basis in science, but they also cost hundreds of dollars.”
Zuckerman also noted that there is no form of facial movement that can specifically address or reverse age-related changes. Facial rhytids (wrinkles), he explained, are the result of sun damage, collagen loss and repeated muscle contraction. Facial exercises, he added, effectively address none of these problems, as movement of the face, regardless of the form, does not build collagen, reverse sun damage, restore elasticity or replace volume.