Expression Lines

The folds, creases, ridges, and grooves that comprise the expression lines are a problem for people who want to maintain a youthful appearance. Anatomists call these lines sulci (the singular of this term is sulcus). I think certain facial exercises can prevent these lines from becoming deep and pronounced. But before we get into the preventive and corrective measures, I'd like you to look closely at these folds of skin.

Ridges and grooves 

The philtral ridges are the central grooves on the external surface of the upper lip. These of course are not expression lines but they do give the mouth character. A pronounced philtrum usually means a well-defined Cupid's bow on the upper lip. The shape and definition of the philtrum is genetically determined. There is nothing that facial exercises can do to change the shape of the philtrum.

Facial exercises if done correctly and often can forestall the deepening of nasolabial, buccolabial, and mentolabial folds though. Sometimes these exercises can even reverse the deepening process. There is controversy, however, about the statement I just made. Later on I'll present a contrarian point of view by Paula Begoun who believes that facial exercise will deepen expression lines and in general will have a deteriorating effect on the face.


Take a look at this extraordinary face. This woman has shallow nasolabial folds. These folds definitely give character to her face but because they are shallow, they do not detract from her youthful appearance. Look also at her well-developed orbicularis oculi muscles - the circular muscles around the eyes. These give her an alluring, seductive appeal. 


And how about the Terminator? His facial muscles are so toned up that the nasolabial fold is almost invisible till he smiles. His face will probably look good till he's an old man because of a natural muscularity and a healthy life style. Give up the Cuban cigars, Arnold.


Clint Eastwood has never put on an ounce of fat. His face is lean but his nasolabial fold is distinct giving his face, at least in his "Dirty" Harry Callahan persona, a no-nonsense look. Men and (some) women respond to such faces. They command attention.

Actors who use facial muscles to express emotion - an excellent form of facial exercise - usually retain young-looking faces until late in their careers. Marlon Brando had these same lean wrinkle-free facial features till the year when he put on massive amounts of weight. Facial exercise cannot undo the ravages of excess weight. Gravity takes it toll, often with extreme rapidity, on people who gain weight. If these people then lose large amounts of weight, it might not help the face, especially after the age of thirty - the damage has already been done. But if a person keeps a reasonable body weight and keeps the facial muscles toned up, the face can continue to look relatively young into advanced age.

Too Much Expression

If a woman over 40 does a lot of physical exercise and eats low calorie meals, she'll probably have low body fat. A woman in this age group when she has low body fat usually has a loss of fat in the face too. So while her body looks great, her face might not look so great. When a woman gets below 20 percent body fat, the eyes start to look sunken-in and the smile lines get too "expressive." Take a look at women marathon runners over 40 years of age. Their abdominal muscles look fantastic but their faces look like variations of the mature Spencer Tracy. A few extra pounds helps to keep a woman's face looking young. Don't carry the few extra pounds theme to extreme though. And certainly don't engage in yo-yo dieting.


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