The idea that stress makes you look older has become almost a cliche. Some interesting research from Korea may confirm this and show at least one way it does this. Researchers have been looking at mechanism through which facial rejuvenation acupuncture may decrease the visible signs of ageing and restore a more youthful appearance to the face.
The research has shown as we age the facial muscles shorten and straighten (which also happens with stress). In fact as we age the resting muscle tone in these muscles increases. This leads to a loss of elasticity in the muscles of the face and an ‘older facial shape’.
Ultimately that tension we carry in our faces may in fact be ageing us!
Interestingly this increase in muscle tension also leads to the muscles creating more heat which may also increases skin dryness ultimately leading to more signs of facial ageing like lines and wrinkles.
The research went on to examine the effects of acupuncture needles placed in the areas of the main facial muscles. They found that facial rejuvenation acupuncture can greatly reduce this tension increasing elasticity in the skin.
They also found by doing this the acupuncture also reduced the heat in the skin that this tension produces. In fact they found that the facial acupuncture could actually directly increase oil and water content on the face straight after treatment leading to more moist skin.
Overall the research showed that acupuncture was very useful for reducing this type of tension and the signs of ageing it produces.
If acupuncture can reduce this tension so simply then it is worth thinking about what other forms of treatment and relaxation may be able to benefit us in this way.
Massage is traditionally a great way to relax muscles and reduce muscle tension. Facial massage can either be done in clinic or at home using the fingers. Simple tools like the jade roller can also be applied. This makes it easier to apply the massage without training and feel fantastic over the skin.
Traditional relaxation methods like yoga, tai chi or meditation may also help to relax muscles and assist the appearance, and so may a simple break and a good quality cup of tea (probably without caffeine which tends to contract muscles).
Stress and tension have become such a part of our every day lives that they are hard to escape while functioning in the modern world. This research suggests that muscle tension may be one of the main causes of facial ageing. If we are worried about the appearance of our faces then it is certainly worth exploring how we can learn to release this tension more in our faces. We can do this either through organised treatments like massage or acupuncture or we can try through lifestyle changes.
Ultimately it is up to us to decide and great to have research like this that tells us we are doing the right thing every time we feel the need to take a break and relax!
1. N. Donoyama, A. Kojima, S. Suoh, and N. Ohkoshi, “Cosmetic acupuncture to enhance facial skin appearance: a preliminary study,” Acupuncture in Medicine, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 152–153, 2012.
2. Hwang DS, Song JH, Kim YS, Lee KS. The Changes of Facial Temperature by Miso Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture: A Case Study. The Journal of Korean Acupuncture & Moxibustion Society. 2008;25;1. 89–95.