3 Face Stretches That Strengthen Your Skin While Releasing Tension

Photo: Getty Images/ LaylaBird
In a lot of ways, skin-firming moisturizers are a good investment. With ingredients like peptides and retinoids, they work to stimulate your body's natural production of collagen and elastin, which diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. But admittedly, they can only do so much on their own. If you want to up the ante to help your skin reach its potential, pros say it's worth supplementing your topical anti-aging routine with face-sculpting stretches, which are designed to relieve tension and strengthen your skin.

"Facial massage also stimulates collagen and elastin, which act as the wireframe for firm skin," says Inge Theron, founder of FaceGym. "Through resistance training, our muscles get stronger and more toned and taut and we build muscle memory to create a strong foundation for the skin which results in less laxity." Plus, facial exercises offer the added benefit of improving circulation and lymphatic drainage, which reduces puffiness and increases your overall skin health.

Aside from the skin benefits that come along with strengthening your skin, treating your face to a stretch also helps to relieve tension. "The majority of sculpting exercises we perform are specifically designed to relieve tension and release muscle knots, which contours and sculpts the face," says Theron. She explains that people tend to hold stress in their jaws, which can cause drooping in the skin underneath the chin, as well as in their eyes and foreheads. With the right moves, you can soften deep expression lines while also reducing the tension that put them there in the first place. (Check out these dentist-approved jaw exercises, too!)

"Facial exercises are designed to create movement within the facial muscles that we tend to neglect with skin-care routines and are not activated through talking or expression," says Theron. "Just like the rest of the muscles in our body, in order for these muscles to stay healthy, they need exercise." To treat your face to a tension-relieving, skin-firming mini stretch workout, follow along with the moves below.

1. Knuckle pulls

This move can be easily integrated into your a.m. skin-care routine and will make applying your usual products feel like a luxury. Simply warm a facial oil in your hands and apply it to the flat part of your knuckles. Then, use your knuckles to distribute the product onto your skin, starting at the base of your neck and massaging in circles with medium pressure. Work your way up to your cheeks, then across your forehead. "This is great for creating heat in your muscles to increase blood flow and oxygenation so that the skin will glow from within," says Theron. "It will wake up your skin, release tension and build muscle memory."

2. Finger whipping

"Finger whipping" is another easy morning exercise that will bring about similar results to knuckle pulls. "It's a cardio move that increases blood flow and oxygenation for firm and lifted muscles," says Theron. Place the pointer and middle finger on your dominant hand on your chin for support, then use the pointer and middle finger on your other hand to lightly and quickly flick your skin, starting at the corner of your mouth and working your way up across your cheeks.

3. Thumb slides

For the ultimate in tension relief, try your hand at thumb slides. "They're great for relieving tension while lifting your brows," says Theron. After applying facial oil, slide your thumbs from the top of your nose and across your eyebrows, ending with three circles on your temples. Repeat the move three to five times, depending on your levels of tension.

If you do want to add tools into your face sculpting routine, check out the video below for the ones a derm says are worth investing in. 

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