March 22, 2017



Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

Related Terms

  • Aging, Bell's palsy, Botox®, elasticity, face shaping, facial exercise, facial lipodistrophy, facial map, facial muscles, facial nerve disorders, facial training, facial resistance training, face training, laser treatment, obstructive sleep apnea, Revita-Yoga, scleroderma, synkinesis, temporomandibular joint disorder, wrinkles.


  • Facening refers to a type of face training, a practice that uses specific exercises to relax and train the facial muscles for cosmetic improvement. Some advocates promote this therapy as a natural alternative to plastic surgery or Botox® injections.

  • Facial exercises may be part of the physical therapy for patients with facial paralysis, Bell's palsy, scleroderma, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Researchers are also investigating whether facial exercises may help ease obstructive sleep apnea.

  • However, there is a lack of medical evidence that facening changes a person's physical appearance. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some may find it relaxing and rejuvenating. Most available literature about facening is written in Japanese.

  • Facening took on particular notoriety when Nintendo® launched a video called "Face Training" in Japan. This video features exercises created by Japanese beauty expert Fumiko Inudo. The video received mixed reviews.

  • There are other facial exercises promoted on the Internet that do not use the term "facening," but also promote a regimen of toning the muscles in the face as a possible way to improve appearance.

  • There are many other ways to help prevent skin damage. For instance, health experts recommend that people minimize their exposure to ultraviolet light, especially during mid-day hours when the sun's rays are the strongest. Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen, brimmed hats, and protective clothing also minimizes exposure.

  • Other methods that have been used to attain a more youthful appearance include Botox® injections, laser resurfacing and tightening, microdermabrasian, intense pulsed light (IPL), plastic surgery, plasma tissue generation, chemical peels, cosmetic tattooing, anti-aging creams and other skin care products, make-up, teeth whitening, hair coloring, and healthy lifestyle choices (such as staying active, eating a healthy diet, and drinking plenty of water).


  • Facening, or face training, is promoted by individuals in the United States on Web sites, in books, and on DVDs.

  • Classes may be offered via web cams or at some gyms and spas. Some approaches, such as Revita-Yoga, are yoga-based.

  • Some instructors recommend practicing for up to 15 minutes per session to avoid overtiring the muscles. Some promote short workouts of five moves, while others offer a regimen of more than 20 exercises per session.

  • Exercises include various moves, such as closing and opening each eye, raising eyebrows, puckering the lips, opening the eyes wide, and tilting the chin while lifting the tongue.

  • Some Web sites provide complimentary exercises or training, while others require payment.

  • Many instructors ask clients to practice in front of mirrors. This helps the client see whether the exercises are being done properly.

  • Many advocates promise results within weeks, with more dramatic results over months. Most promotions say to expect a tightening of skin and muscles that may lead to a more youthful and healthier appearance. Some make extreme promises, such as "erase 10 years in 15 minutes a day."


  • Proponents of face training provide anecdotal reports of emotional benefits, such as a greater sense of well-being and confidence, and feeling more relaxed and less tense, as well as changes in appearance. Proponents claim that the muscles in the face can be strengthened, just like other muscles in the body. By making these muscles stronger, advocates claim it will help change a person's physical appearance. Some also claim that these exercises improve circulation, which also improves appearance. There is a lack of scientific data to support these claims.

  • Only a handful of small studies have focused on physical therapy for the face as a treatment for medical conditions, such as Bell's palsy. Most conclude that exercises do not cause harm, but that the studies are too small, show weak evidence, and need to be confirmed with better-designed controlled studies.


  • A qualified healthcare provider should be consulted before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

  • Experts and researchers report that facial exercises are not harmful or dangerous, although their benefits have yet to be proven.

Author Information

  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).


Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Brach JS, VanSwearingen JM, Lenert J, et al. Facial neuromuscular retraining for oral synkinesis. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1997 Jun;99(7):1922-31; discussion 1932. View Abstract

  2. Cardoso JR, Teixeira EC, Moreira MD, et al. Effects of exercises on Bell's palsy: systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Otol Neurotol. 2008 Jun;29(4):557-60. Review. View Abstract

  3. Denlinger RL, VanSwearingen JM, Cohn JF, et al. Puckering and blowing facial expressions in people with facial movement disorders. Phys Ther. 2008 Aug;88(8):909-15. Epub 2008 Jul 10. View Abstract

  4. Husseman J, Mehta RP. Management of synkinesis. Facial Plast Surg. 2008 May;24(2):242-9. View Abstract

  5. La Touche R, Escalante K, Linares MT, et al. Effectiveness of physiotherapy treatment in peripheral facial palsy. A systematic review. Rev Neurol. 2008 Jun 16-30;46(12):714-8. Review. Spanish. View Abstract

  6. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) www.niams.nih.gov

  7. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com

  8. Skin Cancer Foundation. www.skincancer.org

  9. Teixeira LJ, Soares BG, Vieira VP, et al. Physical therapy for Bell's palsy (idiopathic facial paralysis). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jul 16;(3):CD006283. View Abstract

Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.


March 22, 2017