The first thing people notice about you is your face, so it’s not surprising that as a society we’re preoccupied with wanting to look our best. Research actually shows that attractiveness is very important to humans. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re often judging people based on their looks.
This might have something to do with evolution. Certain facial traits that look particularly masculine or feminine might be how our ancestors were able to tell if a mate was healthy and fertile. Studies have shown that women tend to prefer men who have a strong, muscular jawline. Just think about Superman and the leading male actors — from Christopher Reeve to Henry Cavill — who have played the comic book hero.
As men and women age, the shape of their face goes through changes. Your jawline may become less defined if there is extra fat in the neck and jaw area, or if the muscles have begun to shrink. While you can’t totally fight aging or genetics, there are some things you can to do to improve the look of your jawline. Exercising the jaw muscles helps build them up and give your jaw a more defined look.
To find exercises that work, we consulted two experts. Dr. Scott Michael Schreiber is a chiropractic physician who is double board-certified in rehabilitation and clinical nutrition. Cristina Osorio is a TruFusion yoga instructor.
How the exercises help your jawline
According to Dr. Schreiber, the front neck muscles are often underdeveloped, inhibited, and almost never exercised in a gym or therapy setting. “They can be a major cause of a droopy neck and a hidden cause of neck pain,” he says. The muscles he’s talking about attach from the sternum and collar bone (clavicle) to various parts of the jaw bone (mandible).
Exercises 1 and 2 are from Dr. Schreiber and 3 to 5 are from Cristina Osorio. Dr. Schreiber says that with the proper form, “These exercises should not only sharpen the jawline, but also prevent neck pain, headaches, and jaw pain.” He warns that if you feel pain, you should stop right away. This likely means you’re not using correct form and could hurt yourself.
1. Neck curlup
Think of this as an abdominal curl for your neck. It’s done lying on your back with the tongue pressed on the roof of the mouth. This activates the front neck muscles.
- Bring your chin to your chest and then lift your head off of the ground about 2 inches. Don’t lift your stomach and don’t poke your chin out.
- Start by doing 3 sets for 10 repetitions and gradually build up to more.
- Take your time because these muscles are often underdeveloped and can cause neck strain if you try too much too fast.
2. Collar bone backup
This can be done seated, standing, or lying down on your back.
- Keeping your head level with the floor, bring your head back several inches to feel muscles on either side of your throat contract and relax.
- Start with 3 sets of 10 repetitions at first, and then progress to holding the position for more than 30 seconds.
- Make sure that your ears stay over your shoulders and your head stays level.
3. Tongue twister
This exercise will target the muscles underneath the chin.
- Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth directly behind your teeth.
- Press your tongue to completely close the roof of your mouth and add tension.
- Begin humming and making a vibrating sound. This will activate the muscles.
- Complete 3 sets of 15.
4. Vowel sounds
These movements target the muscles around the mouth and on the sides of the lips.
- Open your mouth wide then say “O,” followed by “E.”
- Be sure to exaggerate these sounds and movements and not show or touch your teeth.
- Perform 3 sets of 15.
This exercise helps lift the face and chin muscles.
- With your mouth closed, push your lower jaw out and lift your lower lip.
- You should feel a stretch build just under the chin and in the jawline.
- Hold the position for 10-15 seconds, then relax.
- Perform 3 sets of 15.
Other things you can do
Eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular exercise goes a long way toward keeping you looking younger. If you feel that extra weight gain is contributing to the change in shape around your jawline, making lifestyle changes can help.
While facial exercises can be very helpful in maintaining the neck and facial muscles and keeping the jawline sharper, they aren’t a fix-all.
In order to look and feel healthy, you’ll also need to practice good eating habits and exercise regularly.