Show Me Your [Facial] Muscle


Working in our industry for the past 15 years, I have seen everything from completely ridiculous claims to straight-up legitimate ones. From fire facials and kitty litter masks to facial yoga and Pilates exercises, there is no shortage of trending treatments in the marketplace. One of the topics in esthetics that intrigues me most, and is often overlooked, is facial muscles.

Muscle Basics

Si1811 Muscles Dream 34777440 400

According to the English Oxford Dictionary, a muscle is “a band or bundle of fibrous tissue in a human or animal body that has the ability to contract, moving in or maintaining the position of parts of the body.” It is also defined as “physical power or strength.”1 We have more than 600 muscles in our bodies.2 These 600 muscles do everything from pumping blood throughout your body to helping you shovel snow. Some of your muscles you can control, while others like your heart, do their jobs without you thinking about them at all.

In the human body, there are three different types of muscles in our body: smooth muscle, cardiac muscle and skeletal muscle.

Smooth muscle. This type of muscle, often referred to as involuntary, can’t be controlled. Rather, the body and brain control these muscles naturally. They are in charge of the bladder, uterus and stomach.

Cardiac muscle. Comprising the heart, this muscle pumps blood out and then relaxes to let blood back in after it has circulated through the body.

Skeletal muscles. These are the muscles we often think of. They are voluntary muscles, which means we can control what they do. The muscles found in the human face are part of this group

Facial Muscles

There are 43 muscles in the human face alone, and the majority of these muscles are controlled by the seventh cranial nerve.3 Facial muscles differ from the rest of the muscles in the body in the sense that skeletal muscles move joints, where facial muscles move the skin. Interestingly enough, it takes 100 muscles to speak.

Eye muscles are the busiest muscles in the body. Scientist estimate our eye muscles move more than 100,000 times a day.4 Due to this, and the skin on the eyes being so fragile, we should be kind to our eyes. So, if your client challenges you about needing an eye cream, tell them this fact.

Exercise and Aging

Facial skin is thin, and repeated movement of muscles can cause creases and wrinkles. A perfect example of this is repeated movement of the eye muscles such as squinting, which can lead to crow’s feet. It is the inactivity of facial muscles that helps reduce wrinkling. When people have partial paralysis of their face, the wrinkles are lessened on the paralyzed side. This is the rationale of neurotoxins, which causes temporary paralysis of muscles that cause wrinkling.

There is conflicting advice in the skin care industry surrounding facial exercises and its effect. Some say if you do facial exercises, you will strengthen facial muscles to firm up sagging skin and fill in wrinkles. This idea is incorrect, and in reality, facial exercises or repetitive facial movements can make the wrinkles worse.

Conversely, the easiest thing you can do to have better facial muscles is to start working out your body with weights. According to dermatologist David Banks, M.D., those who exercise at least four times a week will experience slower aging and a more youthful appearance.5 Resistance training increases the production of growth hormones. Some studies show this hormone can aid in cell repair and influence fibroblast cells to create more collagen. Basically, if you work out, you get collagen. Plus, you increase your body’s metabolism and look amazing head to toe.

Estheticic Modalities for Facial Toning

Si1811 Muscles Dream 98917979 400

Although facial exercises are not the answer for a youthful look, there are different modalities to help with lifting and sculpting of the facial muscles.

Microcurrent. Microcurrent improves muscle tone to lift jowls and eyebrows. It reduces wrinkles, eliminates fine lines and improves facial circulation. A microcurrent facial is referred to as a natural facelift.

Microcurrent uses a low level of electricity that mirrors our bodies natural electrical current. This triggers chemical reactions at a cellular level to enhance the production of natural collagen and elastin, also providing circulation benefits and re-educating the muscles of the face. Working on a cellular level to repair damaged skin and stimulate collagen and elastin is a win-win. You can see why this technology is one of my favorites. Plus, it naturally tightens the muscle, so the face looks fresh and natural. It’s a workout for your face.

Ultrasound. Another great modality for our muscles is ultrasound. Ultrasound waves generate heat within the dermis without damaging the epidermis. Ultrasound helps to restore dermal density and tighten the skin, which helps slow down intrinsic aging. Intrinsic aging is how the body ages from the inside. We tend to experience muscle and bone loss as we age. You’ll see the eyes become more hollow and sunken, giving our faces the look of being tired 24/7. Nasolabial folds thin out and make us look angry. Intrinsic aging makes our facial expressions appear more rigid. Ultrasound re-educates the muscle, giving it a lift. The controlled dermal heating incites a “wound-healing” response that stimulates fibroblasts to synthesize and lay down new collagen.6

Si1810 Muscles Dream 118338016 [converted] 400

Radio Frequency. Radio frequency is non-invasive and works by heating up the skin in the dermis layer with a rolling probe. The energy created stimulates collagen production, which triggers lifting and skin remodeling to tighten skin. Radio frequency is ideal for the face, jawline and full body. Clients often find it relaxing, and the warmth of the wand always puts my clients to sleep.

Combined modalities. There are a number of other modalities that work to tighten and sculpt the skin such as a laser, IPL, LED, etc. The effects of these modalities are enhanced when combined, such as LED and microcurrent or microcurrent and ultrasound. Our technology is improving daily, which makes our field so fascinating and exciting.

Choose Wisely

Whatever method of facial toning you decide is right for you, you’ll know it in your gut. It’s our voice of wisdom speaking. Enjoy firming up your clients’ muscles.


Lisa Hs

Lisa Stewart is the owner and operator of Solia Spa in Brecksville, Ohio. She has worked in the skin care industry for more than 13 years as an esthetician and an educator. She has appeared on local television and radio and was featured in Skin Inc. magazine’s “A Good Influence” section. She has also developed her own rejuvenating retail product.

More in Physiology