Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, June 15, 1998

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Sabrina Stevens teaches facial exercises and
self massage to Linda Deaton.

About Face

Frowning on wrinkles and
other signs of aging? Tone up those facial
muscles with a 'exerssage'

By Nadine Kam
Assistant Features Editor


MOM always warned us not to cross our eyes or flare our nostrils, lest our faces freeze into monstrous expressions. What a bunch of baloney, we thought -- after running to a mirror to check it out.

How little we knew then. How could we have known that the damage would be cumulative. Worry would eventually cause deep furrows in our brows; anger would put a crease between them. Smiles and gravity would conspire to build creases between our noses and mouths.

The only way to prevent the effects of aging from showing on our faces was to hide emotions and remain expressionless.

"In 188 years all those expressions add up," says Sabrina Stevens with a laugh, because her StarFace Beauty System makes it OK to rejoice and smile again. Her pioneering series of resistance control toning, acupressure, and "exerssage," a combination of exercise and massage, helps to reduce tension from stiff neck and jaw muscles, improve circulation and slow some of the signs of age.

It was a system born of necessity 22 years ago when Stevens was attacked and stabbed in the face, leaving her with a gouge in her forehead and slashed under her left eye.

She recovered with help initially from a surgeon, but a surgeon could do little for the muscle trauma. Stevens decided to put her training in lomi lomi massage and body work to work in accelerating recovery to her face.

Sandy smoother

Smooths forehead furrows. Perform 7 or 12 strokes or repetitions per exercise.

1. Moon pose. Open mouth to form a circle. Extend mouth corners forward. Breathe deeply throughout.

2. Place hands with fingertips touching at center of forehead. Lift up and out, using facial massage oil to suit your body type. Slide fingers apart, toward temples.


3. Place hands in prayer position in middle of forehead. Use thumbs to massage between the brows. Massage entire forehead area.


Since then, she's helped not only aging boomers, but victims of abuse and accidents. In one extreme case, a woman's face was split open in a traffic accident and surgery left her face looking like a patchwork quilt. Weakened muscles had one side of her mouth sagging. Stevens system returned symmetry to the woman's face.

Now 50 years young and an avid student of movement, Stevens says, "I took cues from what we do from the neck down, and applied the same principals to the face. I just wondered why no one did it before.

"There are a lot of myths about exercising the face. We don't do much of it. But if we can build our bodies, why can't we build our cheek muscles?

"I wonder if the billion-dollar beauty industry and surgery associations have anything to do with it? Who knows if I'm thinking correctly?"

Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children resource coordinator Suzanne Allen invited Stevens to conduct workshops for its members after trying some of the StarFace techniques, which require only a few minutes a day. The truly committed, whose faces are investments, such as entertainers, may spend 13 to 20 minutes a day.

"It helps people to be proactive," Allen said. "We are always interested in programs that allow women to do something on their own, to be in a position where they don't need plastic surgery, or if they've had surgery, then the techniques help to keep their muscles toned and speed recovery."

More workshops will be offered at Kapiolani the end of this month.

"I was interested in making my lips fuller," Allen said. "When I heard that there are exercises to do this, I thought, 'Yeah, right.' But it works."

StarFace chin series

Releases tension, reduces double chin, refines area around and under the chin. Beginners should work in a series of 7 or 12 strokes or repetitions per exercise.

1. With mouth in a slight smile, rotate head to right. Tilt chin up. Breathe deeply while massaging neck tissue, using a facial massage oil that suits your skin type. Rotate head to left and repeat.


2. Snake roll. With lips and teeth slightly touching, roll head back, then roll forward, moving chin muscle over chin bone, touching chest softly. Use deep, rhythmic breathing throughout.

3. Snake press. Tilt chin upward. Press tongue to palate.

4. The serpent. Open jaw wide. Close lower jaw with resistance.


Stevens anti-aging workshops offer tactics for reducing eyelid wrinkles, changing frown habits and reversing their effects and toning skin around the eyes, mouth and neck.

"Our faces reflect our bad habits and attitudes. Some people constantly lift the muscles at the sides of their nose. They always look like they're giving the stink eye.

"Feelings of disgust or other inner emotions also rest on our face."

Most surrender to the belief that the face we are born with is the one we must live with.

"Most of the time when we look at our faces in the mirror, it's to put something over it or wash it, not to see what works and what doesn't," Stevens said. "I know a lot of people don't like what they look like."

Stevens believes in aging gracefully, but she is not opposed to plastic surgery if that is what an individual needs to boost self-esteem.

"Beauty is such a commodity. People want to feel acceptance, and if that is what they think they need to feel good about themselves, nothing can dissuade them."

However, she says that knowledge of her techniques can help those considering surgery to use it more sparingly.

"Then going into it, you're wise. You know what you're made of. I feel surgery is your choice, but there are a lot of things you may think you need surgery for, when you don't.

"If you start early enough, you can avoid surgery."

And it doesn't take long for results to show. By the end of a facial work-out, users will see the kind of glow in their cheeks associated with body exercise.

"I see that smile and light in their eyes," Stevens said. "That's a face lift!"


Face facts

Bullet What: StarFace Exerssage class
Bullet When: 10 to 11 a.m. June 27
Bullet Where: Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and children
Bullet Cost: $15
Bullet Also: Two StarFace facial sculpting workshops, 10 a.m. to noon June 20 and 6 to 8 p.m. June 24 at the center. Costs $55 per session.
Bullet Call: 535-7000

Graphics By Kip Aoki, Star-Bulletin

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