Despite hearing about jade roller benefits every time I logged on to the internet, the first time I laid eyes on the skin-care tool, what I really saw was yet another thing that would collect dust in my bathroom cabinet. I know, I know: Jade is really pretty. But, also, it’s just a rock. So when I began to see jade rollers everywhere, I still felt pretty smug about not falling for the siren call of Insta-bait. And yet here I am months later: People won’t shut up about their jade rollers. A search of #jaderoller on Instagram pulls up more than 116,000 posts, because not only are jade rollers a hot topic of conversation; they’re also more photogenic than, say, tubes of prescription retinol.
Still, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at jade rollers—something I do on a grand scale with anything that involves crystals, which I value only as attractive paperweights. (I couldn't care less about my vibrations, TBH.) So, curious to figure out why people were so into them, I challenged those familiar with the things to convince me whether they’re really worth rubbing all over my face.
What is a jade roller?
Simply put, a jade roller is a beauty tool made of jade or other stones that's used for face massage. The tools aren't anything new, just hyper-visible thanks to social media. Like Gua Sha, jade rollers date back to seventh-century China, and crystals have been used in skin care for thousands of years.
The crystal isn't just aesthetically pleasing, but most of the benefits come from the fact that it's cold to the touch (and even more so if, like some enthusiasts, you store it in the fridge). “The practice of applying a cold sensation and pressure to an area has been used for centuries because it works without fail,” says Joie Tavernise, aesthetician and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare in NYC. “It’s simple: The cold restricts blood flow to a particular area, and pressure pushes fluid, known as lymph, to the lymph nodes, which process it and filter out toxins.”
Jade roller benefits
While there are plenty of rave reviews for jade rollers across Instagram and YouTube, I decided to go to an actual dermatologist to see whether they live up to their anecdotal hype. It turns out even some of those too-good-to-be-true skin benefits just may be legit.
“The real benefit of jade rollers or facial massage is improving circulation and lymphatic drainage, so you look more glowing and less puffy,” says Jennifer Chwalek, M.D., a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in NYC. I admit: Damn. “Marma point massage (or Ayurvedic massage), acupressure, or even gentle facial massage, when done correctly to your face, is known to help calm the mind and improve headaches, TMJ pain, sinus congestion, eye strain, and puffiness of the lower eyelids,” she says.
When I asked other obsessives about their thoughts, every one of them I talked to corroborated a different benefit. “I love mine,” my friend Brittany, a publicist in New York City, told me. “It makes me feel like I’m getting a facial or attempting to do lymphatic drainage to depuff without the cost.”
“I use it at least every other night,” says Olivia, a sales associate from Savannah, Georgia, I came across on the Skincare Addiction SubReddit. “I have rosacea that I’ve been battling for years, and the coolness of the jade roller really helps to calm my skin.” After using it consistently for three months, she says, she noticed a big difference in her complexion, from how smooth her skin is to the reduced puffiness—and of course, it’s calmer than ever. I find it hard to argue with that. But I also don’t have rosacea.
Sofia, a grad student living in New York City, told me her jade roller habit was born of necessity. “I have rather long acrylic nails, and I felt I was wasting a lot of product—and money—getting it caught on my nails and cuticles or absorbed by my fingertips,” she says. “So I’ll use my spatula or spoon to put dots of serum or moisturizer on my face and slowly use the jade roller to spread it out over my skin.” She rolls for about 20 seconds, after which the formula seems to sink in. “Even if you’re skeptical about whether it helps things like circulation and collagen production, it’s good if you want a gentle face massage without all the tugging and pulling,” she says.
$76.00, Jade Roller Beauty
$195.00, Angela Caglia
How do jade rollers work?
The key to getting in on the depuffing, glow-enhancing benefits is knowing how to use jade rollers correctly. According to Tavernise, the goal is to push the fluid trapped in your skin cells toward your lymph nodes. She likes to do three strokes of light pressure, working with one side of the face at a time.
Here's how she recommends doing that: Start at the center of your chin, rolling out and up toward your ear. Then move the roller up to the side of your mouth and repeat. Repeat again, starting this time at the side of the nose. Roll it under your eye, moving it horizontally toward your temple, and repeat it on your eyelid. On your forehead, roll it up from your brow to your hairline. Then roll it horizontally out toward your temple. Finally, repeat on the other side of your face.
Jade roller before and after
Face rollers seemed like a lot of work, especially for me, who can barely squeeze in a double cleanse. But I get the appeal of both the skin-care benefits and its millennial pink, sage-smudging, low-key woo-woo aesthetic, which I both admire and hate with every fiber of my being (possibly because my aesthetic is more gray and frizzy). After all, there’s a reason that despite all the affordable versions of jade rollers available on Amazon, the one that caught my eye was the Herbivore Jade Facial Roller, from the brand that creates products so dreamy-looking that you’d never conceal them in your cabinet. At least I’m not alone in this. “I also like how it looks on my vanity, which I know is so lame, but it’s true,” says Brittany. “The jade just looks chic.”
So…I caved. I got a jade roller—Herbivore’s, naturally. I dotted eye cream beneath my eyes and a moisturizer everywhere else before following Tavernise’s instructions. My first gripe: The jade roller picked up a lot of my moisturizer. I want that in my skin. But the jade did feel cool and refreshing even though I hadn’t refrigerated it, and it seems as though it would be perfect for just after a run (since I tend to stay red and sweaty for at least an hour afterward).
I can't say the difference in puffiness was night-and-day. Maybe if I actually invest more time in jade rolling or do it after a particularly salty meal, I'll see more of a change? One thing I absolutely noticed though was how much less tense my facial muscles felt after rolling. The effect didn't last long, but it certainly felt good in the interim.
And at the very least, the arguments from skin-care obsessives and pros alike have convinced me to keep my attitude in check. Plus, Brittany makes the best case for it. “It’s almost like, well, I can’t afford or don’t want to spend money on a facial, but that doesn’t mean it all goes to shit,” she says. “It makes me feel like I’m doing something good for myself after a long day.” I can’t hate on that.
Deanna Pai is a beauty writer in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @deannapai.
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Originally Appeared on Glamour