I really did fall for this. And in a big way. For at least two years - perhaps longer - I sat in front of the mirror and performed what is known as an isometric exercise program. Mostly this involved strange contortions of the face to move different muscles in a series of repetitions.

The idea is exercises will tone the facial muscles to eliminate wrinkles and boost sagging features. There are variations on the theme touted by a number of facial exercise gurus, all of whom have impossibly taut faces and vehemently claim never to have been near a Botox needle. My guru of choice was Carole Maggio.

Carole's program is called Facercise and there are books and videos so that you can follow the routine at home. Looking at her its difficult to believe that she hasn't had a facelift and she has some odd recommendations - such as sleeping with sticky tape on your face to prevent creases deepening during the night (she exhorts this with words to the effect of 'if your husband doesn't like it, hang the marriage - this is too important!').

Despite all this, I think I was captivated by the idea that you could exercise your way to youthfulness. Keeping fit is a big part of my lifestyle and if it works for the body, why not the face? There are two things to say about the experience. The first is it really time consuming. To do the routine properly takes at least 20 minutes, if not half an hour. If you also exercise your body, then you can spend a typical day devoting well over an hour to exercise. Secondly, it looks pretty stupid as you pull Jim Carey-like faces. A quaint pastime in the north of England called gurning comes to mind.

Oh, and it doesn't work. On reflection, that's a bit harsh. In two years, my jawline did feel a bit firmer. Overall, though, it proved to be a monumental waste of time. Furthermore, some dermatologists claim that it these contortions actually create wrinkles. Cosmeticscop quotes Dr Wilma Bergfeld of the Cleveland Clinic cautioning that over-manipulation of the skin causes or worsens wrinkles.

A far better option is a regular microcurrent facial, which stimulates the muscles without manipulating the skin.