By LISA WILLIAMS
According to Dr Oz and Dr Michael F. Roizen in their You: Being Beautiful book, exercising the facial muscles is a sure way to increase wrinkles. The facial muscles pull on the skin to give you facial expressions. And the repetitive movements of the skin, over the years, combined with the normal thinning of the collagen and elastin of the dermis, will eventually crack the skin, causing wrinkles.
Muscle relaxants such as botulinum toxin (trade name: Botox) is the reverse of exercise; it relaxes the muscles, reduces the movement and lessens wrinkles.
This makes a lot of sense. Think about it: what are the areas of your face that have more fine lines and wrinkles? The forehead, and the areas around the eyes and mouth. Why? Because we move them a lot: when we smile, when we frown, when we squint our eyes and when we purse our lips. While there are reasons for us to work our facial muscles such as putting on a smile, there are some expressions that are doing more harm than others, not just for our immediate charm but also for our long term aging.
The most common error that most of us succumb to is to let our frowns get stronger with each passing day unchecked. Our glabellar muscles that create the frown lines on your forehead thus become super strong, crinkling up our forehead skin at the slightest stimuli. “I frown when I am deep in thought” says Claudia, a freelance copywriter. “By the time I was in my thirties, I had semi-permanent frown lines already.”
Fix: Learning to relax your forehead muscles is key. Taking little breaks while you are at work and checking your expression in the mirror can also help. “You will be surprisedbat how worried or stressed you may be looking when you feel anything but” says Amanda, a voice coach who teaches her clients to speak while looking into a mirror to keep their expressions in check. Dr Chua Han Boon, consultant physician at SW1 Clinic says “Botox is no longer just a quick fix for frown lines. Studies have shown that regular botox treatments actually permanently reduces the treated lines as the skin has a chance to regenerate optimally without repeated creasing”.
#2 Teeth Grinding
Teeth-grinding is not limited to the older subset, with many younger people reportedly suffering from it as well. Stress is a known cause of teeth grinding. Unfortunately, this internal affliction can have external telltale signs —- enlargement of jaw muscles and resultant squaring of the jawline. While this distinctly masculinization of the face can be complimentary for the male face, it is distinctly unattractive for women.
Fix: Habits such as chewing gum, not cutting down your foods into small bite-sized portions can affect how your jaw muscles work, and over-develop. Botox can help by limiting its activity, preventing it from behaving in a hyperactive manner. Not only is this a treatment for teeth-grinding, this also does wonders to slim down the face, aligning a female face with a more ideal V-shape silhouette, instantly heightening its attractiveness.
#3 Downturned Mouth
The resting bitch face does no one any favours. The culprit here is our DAO, aka depressor anguli oris muscle, which pulls down the mouth corners when activated. So subtle is this muscle that most of the time, the perpetrator of the downturned mouth does not even realise what he or she is doing. The problem however is that with time, this downward pull will create unsightly jowls and marionette lines that demarcate an aging face from a more relaxed youthful one.
Fix: Take a quick glance into a mirror to check your reflection. If you catch yourself scowling, reset your expression and relax the muscles around your mouth. Better still, try to maintain an inward smile wherever you go; this will slightly activate the muscles that pull your lip corners upwards, thus neutralizing the unwanted downturn. Botox for the DAO is usually done by doctors with years of experience, as it needs a measured hand and an experienced eye. Injecting in the wrong areas can affect the smile but when done right, you are blessed with a hint of a smile and longevity of youthful skin.
#4 Clenching your jaw & neck
Clenching your jaw is something we all do when we are stressed. The term “to bite your tongue” stems from this jaw-clenching action we all know so well. Unfortunately this action leads to the contraction of our neck muscles also known as the platysma muscles. As these muscles that envelope your lower jawline and neck grow in size, they form vertical hulk-like bands that belie a persons age. No matter how youthful your face may be, a muscular neck with over-developed platysmal bands will give your age away. In fact, the great beauty Queen Nefertiti grasped that beauty lies below the face, nurturing her neck so that it was slender and slim, and devoid of bands that would contribute to the overall downward pull on the skin of the jawline.
Fix: Injection of Botox into the neckline and below the angle of the jaw not only eliminates the appearance of these muscle bands, in many cases, they also result in an uplift of the skin of the face, hence the term Nefertiti Lift. According to Dr Low Chai Ling who sees many patients for this procedure, this is one of the most underrated anti-aging treatment women for women over 30.
Squinting is fast climbing up the ‘bad boy list’ as modern devices such as your mobile phones become more commonplace. Constantly checking your messages can put a strain on your eye muscles; this constant overworking of the peri-orbital muscles head to the formation of crow’s feet as well as eventual sagging of the skin around the eyes.
Fix: Squinting is something we do when we are in bright sunlight, so doctors advise wearing sunglasses to protect our eyes when we are outdoors. This will save us from premature wrinkles. Short of wrestling our mobile from our addicted fingers, Botox placed at the corner of our eyes confer dual benefits— lessening of the crow’s feet as well as opening of the eye area, making us look more awake and fresher.