3 Underrated Expert Tips To Strength Train Your Skin
I hesitate to even call this a “trend,” but strong skin is in. As more folks start to prioritize their lean muscle mass in the name of longevity, it seems beauty-minded individuals want to apply that same “use it or lose it” mindset to their complexions.
But strength training your skin doesn’t always involve exercising your facial muscles (though face yoga can certainly be effective). Rather, you can work on improving the skin's elasticity, or what accounts for firmness. Once you hit your mid-20s, your elasticity begins to decline as the levels of the structural proteins1 (collagen, elastin, and such) diminish.
The good news? You can slow down this process—thus keeping your skin strong—with just a few lifestyle adjustments. Here, find some strengthening skin care must-haves.
Remember when we said skin elasticity declines because structural proteins, like collagen, start to break down? Well, you can help restore these proteins by taking collagen supplements. Research shows that hydrolyzed collagen peptides can support your body's natural production of collagen2 by stimulating fibroblasts, those same cells that make collagen and elastin to begin with. The result? Better hydration, smoother skin, and improved skin quality.
Take this clinical study3, which showed that collagen can support skin elasticity and potentially make fine lines appear smaller. Or consider this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial4 found that participants' moisture levels in the skin were seven times higher than those who did not take collagen supplements.
If you select a really advanced formula—like one of the powders mentioned in this list—you might even get more bang for your buck and ingest other skin-healthy ingredients, like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and biotin.
Microcurrent is arguably the closest you’ll get to an actual strength training workout for your skin. The handheld electromagnetic device sends gentle jolts of energy to stimulate your skin cells—this, in turn, can "exercise" the facial muscles and make them appear more toned and lifted.
It all has to do with a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which acts as your body's natural energy currency. "What we do with microcurrent is replenish and boost the ATP and therefore, the collagen and elastin," biomedical engineer and holistic skin care expert Pooja Johari, M.S., says in an episode of Clean Beauty School.
Just make sure you snag a FDA-cleared, high-quality tool and use it correctly; check out our list of the best microcurrent devices on the market here, along with an expert-led how-to.
Like any good strength training routine, you need to know when to give it a rest. Overwhelming your skin with harsh actives and treatments will only damage the skin barrier and create more inflammation, which actually accelerates the skin aging process.
“Push your skin, and then let your skin recover,” says board-certified dermatologist and mindbodygreen Collective member Whitney Bowe, M.D., FAAD., on the mindbodygreen podcast. “It’s the same way you go to the gym: You're lifting heavy weights, you're creating micro-tears in those muscles. The next morning, you're not going to wake up and do that same thing again…if you want to get your muscles stronger, you have to alternate between periods of intense activity and recovery. The same thing holds true for the skin and the barrier and the microbiome.”
That said, take the time to prioritize strictly hydrating, nourishing ingredients that do nothing but baby your skin barrier. Bowe particularly praises jojoba oil, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and aloe, “ingredients that are going to nourish the skin, repair the barrier, replenish the microbiome,” she adds. “Give yourself days to recover.”
And there you have it: a strength training routine for your skin. There are plenty more treatments where this came from—retinol, glycolic acid, and other collagen-stimulating ingredients—but consider these your basic steps. While you can (and should) take collagen daily, you might not want to overdo it on the actives, anyway; strong skin is all about balance.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.