In the episode, a camera crew filmed her teaching Kim, Khloe, Kourtney and Scott Disick face yoga. As the group tried not to laugh at the faces and the sounds they were making, social media users mocked the display.
“They are so bored they [don’t know] what else to blow their money on,” one commenter wrote on Facebook.
It’s true — a private session with Hayashi, one of the most well-known face yoga instructors in the U.S., can cost several hundred dollars. Currently, she only offers virtual classes, which are $300 a pop.
But Hayashi takes face yoga seriously and has seen the results herself. The same week her episode on Keeping Up aired, Hayashi was featured on Shark Tank where she had Kevin O’Leary demonstrate some of her practices.
Commenters on YouTube — and the judges on Shark Tank — seemed skeptical. But since the episodes aired in 2019, places like FaceGym have exploded. When the pandemic hit and elective surgeries were banned in hospitals and doctor’s offices, people searched for at-home solutions and started turning to YouTube and TikTok tutorials for natural alternatives.
The beauty industry is often dismissed as being vain or superficial. Beyond the buying and selling of products, cosmetic surgeries have increased dramatically over the last few decades. In 2007, cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedures performed in the U.S. increased 500% from the previous decade.
The billion-dollar industry is undeniably powerful and influential — which is why Hayashi thinks it’s foolish to think that women globally aren’t going to, at least at one point or another in their lives, want to start taking measures to maintain or change their appearance.
“I had a plastic surgery failure at the age of 27,” Hayashi explained to In The Know. “Right now I’m 42, so it [was] a long time ago. And then I realized, ‘Oh, I should have done some natural medicine instead of just doing the plastic surgery.'”
Like a lot of currently popular “natural” beauty trends, face yoga was around in Japan for centuries before it made its way to mainstream American culture. Interest in gua sha tools, which have been used in China since the Paleolithic Age, skyrocketed during the pandemic. One Australian beauty brand reported in mid-2020 that its gua sha sales went up 155%.
Hayashi was ahead of the trend when she started teaching face yoga about five years ago. She’s been studying the craft for over a decade and then decided to take it stateside.
“There’s so much education going on in Japan,” she said. “I just learned from them, got lots of certifications and then tried to come up with my [own] way [of teaching] because [what I learned was] targeted to Japanese, but I was targeting to global markets.”
While studying facial yoga, Hayashi noticed that people of different ethnicities and nationalities had not only different bone structures but different facial expressions. That meant, when it came to face yoga, that it had to be tailored to specific people.
“For example, Caucasian people, their bones are more dynamic and they make more facial expressions, which means more wrinkles,” she explained. “We don’t make big facial expressions like that. And if people do raise their eyebrows and cause wrinkles on the forehead, that’s not really common in Japan. Maybe a little bit, but it’s not as much as an American in general.”
A 2009 study found a similar result — that facial expressions are not universal; not as a result of genetics, but because of culture.
“In [the U.S.] many people, even kids, I see many young people, teenagers, but they have wrinkles,” Hayashi added. “They’re just so expressive.”
But face yoga isn’t about suppressing expressions or making kids slim down their faces. In fact, Hayashi doesn’t even recommend young children start doing face yoga unless they have certain health problems that could be alleviated through retraining facial muscles.
For example, Hayashi explained that the tongue’s ideal resting place should be along the roof of your mouth and not touching your front teeth. After I had an existential crisis over where my tongue rests, Hayashi revealed that an incorrect resting position can create health issues.
“Lots of kids [don’t have that] posture in their mouth and they keep doing the mouth breathing — which you receive less oxygen [doing],” she said.
Plus, while sleeping, “it’s easy to grind your teeth and [cause] TMJ pain,” Hayashi added. “[This] should be told to young people. They don’t necessarily have to do all the exercise, but at least position the tongue [correctly].”
While Hayashi did not receive a bid on Shark Tank, her business is still holding strong. An important point she reiterates in her classes and meetings with clients is that face yoga is not just for beauty; it also benefits health, which is why Hayashi makes a lot of her resources easily available to everyone.
Plus, it’s so easy, there’s really no excuse not to try it.
“You can do most of the exercises when you are driving or walking or doing something [else],” she said.
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