Saving face: Look younger than your years

Every fancied a face-lift, but just couldn’t face the knife? Here’s how to cajole those jowls into toned perfection...

What’s cheap, natural, makes your skin glow and is practised by Trudie Styler?

No, not tantric sex (sorry Sting) – we’re talking about facial exercise. It makes perfect sense if you think about it: we hone our bodies, so why not our faces? After all, the face contains some 57 muscles, attached to the skin via connective tissue.

If you exercise the muscles, it follows that the skin will tone and tauten.

These days there’s a bewildering array of ‘recipes’ for facial improvement, but when LA skincare guru Carole Maggio (who counts Styler and Queen Noor among her clients) suggests ‘Facercise’, it’s worth paying attention – she looks a decade younger than her 57 years.

Her exercises will isolate and work your muscles till they ache, but promise to ease lines and puffy circles, lift saggy jowls and brighten your complexion.

"If you practise regularly, twice a day for around 22 minutes a day, you’ll see results in a couple of weeks," she says.

April Besch, 47, tried ‘Facercise’ after the birth of her first child.

"When I lost those last 10lbs fro the pregnancy, my face seemed to drop. Depression hit. I started doing the exercises for 15-20 minutes a day and I noticed a difference within two weeks," she says.

"My skin tone was better, my eyes more open, my jaw firmed up and my cheeks were higher on my face. I’ve lost 10 years. Other people have noticed too, but they ask me if I’ve had a haircut or if I’m using a new lipstick. These days I can look in the mirror and be proud of the way I look and feel at this age."

It’s not all about beauty though.

"Do my “eye enhancer” and it’ll get rid of sinus headaches," says Maggio. Likewise, her ‘jaw strengthener’ can help cure teeth-grinding. And the whole set, she adds can ease Bell’s Palsy, a condition in which one side of the face becomes paralyzed.

Dr Gerald Walman, a US-based plastic surgeon, has worked with Maggio and is full of praise. "Her technique is imminently logical to me and conforms to scientific and medical principles," he says. 

London consultant dermatologist Professor Chris Griffiths begs to differ. He says he’s unaware of any scientific evidence that shows facial exercise reduces the signs of ageing. His advice? "Stop smoking, avoid sun exposure, use a good sunscreen and apply retinal cream."

But do we always need proven scientific say-so to know whether we’re onto a good thing? Mary Dalgleish, who offers ‘facial rejuvenation technique’ at head2toemassage in south-west London, doesn’t think so.

"When I work on a client, I’ll do half her face, so she can see for herself the improvement in the mirror," she says.

"I use special lifting techniques - the movements are very small and precise. They tone the muscles and help to eliminate toxins through the lymphatic system, leaving you looking revitalised."

Noel Kingsley, an Alexander Technique practitioner based in central London, believes the face shouldn’t be treated in isolation from the rest of the body.
"Negative thoughts and ingrained postural habits can all combine to affect how we feel – and look."

He’s introduced a facial release treatment into his sessions. I had a go and can report that the tweaks he made to back, neck and limbs released so much pent-up tension, I was in a trance well before he got to my face.

He worked intuitively on that area, using his hands and Reiki healing energy to encourage the muscles to relax. That night I slept like a baby – and that was great for my complexion.

His top DIY tip? "Try visualizing your face opening like curtains in a theatre." I’ll drink – lots of hydrating water – to that.’

Five Fast Fixes

1/. Spritz rose-water on your face for an instant reviver.
2/. Sleep on your back – you lose the symmetry in your face by sleeping on your side.
3/. Instead of a night cream, try jojoba oil. It’s similar in constituency to the sebum in your skin, and won’t clog your pores.
4/. Stick a plaster on your forehead at night to smooth frown lines.
5/. Stick out your tongue and roar! This yoga posture (known as the Lion) exercises most of your facial muscles.

Forehead lift: eases frown lines

Place your index fingers right in the middle of your forehead, parallel to your eyebrows. Pull your fingers down. Push the eyebrows up and release, 10 times, then once more and hold in position for a count of 30.

Eye Enhancer: depuffs your eyes

Put your middle fingers between your brows, then apply pressure to the outer corners of your eyes with your index fingers. Look up, then lift your lower eyelids. Do this 10 times, then squeeze your eyes shut and count to 40.

Jaw Strengthener: tones droopy jowls

Open your mouth and roll your lower lip in tightly over your lower teeth. Pull the corners of your mouth towards the back teeth and roll them in tightly.

Keep your upper lip pressing firmly against the teeth. Place your index finger on your chin for resistance. Open and close jaw in a slow, scooping motion – use the corners of your mouth to do this. Repeat 35 times.