Facial fitness is, we are told, the new facelift. They promise to rejuvenate your face without the need for any needles. But does it work?

The Zoom Effect

Facial fitness arrived at a time when our constant presence on video conference calls left us feeling very self-conscious about our looks. The Zoom effect was felt by all: working through Zoom forced so many of us to face up to the facial flaws we had. Our faces have never been more important. In a world of remote work, your face is everything. The result has been a boom in cosmetic treatments, from traditional injectables to non-injectables like facial fitness. 

So What is Facial Fitness?

Facial fitness is a trend promoted by ‘skinfluencers’. There’s no clear definition of what facial fitness is. Broadly speaking, facial fitness attempts to extend notions of exercising our bodies to the face. In other words, skinfluencers argue that if exercise is good for the body, it must be good for the face as well. Facial fitness exploded on social media with searches around facial fitness quadrupling in 2020 alone. 

Facial fitness revolves around the use of facial massages and tools. One of the most popular techniques is gua sha, an ancient Chinese technique that involves having a trained professional use a smooth-edged tool to stroke your skin while pressing on it. The last time I checked, #guasha had more than 840 million views on TikTok!

Does Face Training Work?

We do not have a lot of data to support or deny whether facial training works. Whereas there is clear scientific evidence that injectable solutions work. For many skin ailments, injectables are a clearly superior alternative with lots of medical evidence. So facial fitness is not going to end the demand for botox training for nurse practitioners

According to one study, gua sha was found to be implausible and without any medical benefits. Indeed, it has been found to damage the skin. A range of negative side effects have been observed, from relatively minor ones such as dermatitis, blood in the urine and burns to rare, serious side effects such as bleeding in the brain and injuries that require skin grafts. 

However, practices such as gua sha have been around for ages and their enduring people is because they do help with refreshing the skin. 

Some people do report positive results. Facial training can be used to alleviate facial and overall tension, for example. Facial training is used by those who believe that it unblocks fluids in the face that cause tension.

Some practitioners use their hands rather than tools because they believe that the human touch is important to the success of the treatment. 

Facial training emphasises going beneath the skin in order to revitalise it and achieve overall emotional and physical wellbeing. Practitioners believe that using facial training, they can release toxins in the skin and ease any tension, resulting in more radiant, fresh and sculpted skin. 

Scientifically, though, these claims have yet to be backed by any real evidence.