We all know how sore our bodies can be after a trip to the gym. Turns out, simple daily movements like smiling, frowning, and chewing can give your facial muscles a major workout too. So just like stretching and using foam roller exercises to roll out your legs and arms after exercising can have benefits for your bigger muscle groups, your face muscles can benefit greatly from a facial massage.
Facial massage may sound like a luxury few can afford, but with the right face massage tools, you can reap the benefits from the comfort of your own home, DIY edition. We spoke to expert dermatologists and estheticians to give you the low down. Read on for all the benefits and everything you need to know about giving your face some much needed self-care.
What is a facial massage?
Facial massage is a general term that refers to rubbing and manipulation of the skin and muscles of the face, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., Associate Professor of Dermatology and the Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “This can be done with your fingers or different types of tools or electronic devices.” He also notes that facial massage can be accompanied by “application of skin care products to enhance penetration into the skin.”
Not only is a facial massage relaxing, it’s also done with a purpose when done in a facial by a professional esthetician, says Caela Bulzing, of Caela Esthetics. “Facial massage is specifically done by the esthetician’s hands and is sometimes assisted with a Gua Sha stone or cupping device.”
What are the different types of facial massage?
Effleurage and Petrissage are the two main massage techniques, says Bulzing. “The hands never leave the face during effleurage…these strokes improve circulation in the blood vessels near the surface of the skin.” On the other hand, “compression on the skin is called Petrissage, which can include kneading, squeezing and pinching.” Bulzing adds that this technique “affects the deeper muscle tissue of the face and the blood will pump to the surface of the skin.”
There are many specific types of facial massage services out there, such as:
According to Bulzing, circular motions and following the bone structure and natural shape of the face is very important not only for effective massage but for an enjoyable experience.
There are also many different tools that can be used for facial massages such as face rollers, vibrating face massagers and microcurrent devices, says Ramya Garlapati, M.D., board-certified dermatologist from Miami. She explains that “face rollers come in varying sizes and material and apply gentle pressure on the skin, vibrating face massagers are usually incorporated into a face roller with the added vibration effect that provides a deeper massaging result, and microcurrent devices use small electrical currents that stimulate skin and underlying muscles.”
In addition to the effleurage and petrissage techniques mentioned above, there’s also:
digital or knuckle kneading
Benefits of Facial Massage
Stimulates lymphatic drainage
As we age, lymphatic function deteriorates, explains Dr. Garlapati. “By stimulating lymphatic flow through facial massages, you promote fluid drainage from the tissue which can temporarily de-puff the skin and give minimal improvement to facial contour by eliminating excess fluid.” However, she notes that it’s important to temper expectations, “as the results you may experience from facial massages will not compare to the contouring results you will get from in office procedures.”
By stimulating lymphatic drainage, facial massage moves toxins out of cells and reduces swelling and puffiness, says Bulzing. “It also detoxifies the skin and promotes the skin to repair itself leading to collagen production and elasticity.”
Promotes circulation & stimulates muscles
Massaging can also improve blood circulation in the skin, says Dr. Garlapati. “By stimulating blood flow, you can promote the appearance of a more glowing complexion, but these benefits are temporary and there is no data to support that facial massages can lead to long term changes in facial contour for a reduction in facial wrinkles.”
Massaging particular muscles in the face will not only lead to a plumper face, it will create circulation and stimulate muscles which will in the long term promote anti-aging, says Bulzing. “As we grow older our muscles become stagnant and without stimulation, they will not grow firmer and the face will appear saggy. Facial massage increases circulation to your facial tissue, resulting in brighter, youthful-looking skin.”
Bulzing also adds that a facial massage can provide benefits that extend much further than simply your face. According to Bulzing, facial massage can relieve tension headaches, migraines and jaw tightness. Like most massages, facial massage is also known to relieve anxiety and promote relaxation, which we could all use more of in our day.
How to Give Yourself a Facial Massage At Home
So now that you know all of the benefits that a facial massage can do for you, you’re probably wondering how you can do it yourself.
If you’re anxious to try out one of the massage techniques ASAP, Dr. Garlapati says that the best time to do a facial massage would be when doing your skincare routine. To start, Dr. Zeichner says “with clean fingers, gently rub the face in circular motions starting with the central face and moving your way outwards [towards the back of your head].”
If you want to maximize lymphatic drainage benefits, Dr. Zeichner says “the massage should be performed in the direction of lymphatic flow…This is a down and out direction, contrary to your natural inclination to rub upwards against gravity.” Bulzing adds that “going downward on the neck will help with lymphatic drainage.” However, if you want to prioritize relieving tension, she says that “using upward and outward motions relieves tension.”
If you’re not sure how to position your hands, a facial massage can be done at home with your own hands using a Gua Sha stone or roller, says Bulzing. Bulzing adds that “using a Vitamin E or jojoba oil will help with the glide of a massage and it will not absorb into the skin causing breakouts.” Dr. Garlapati also warns that people trying at home should work in sweeping motions, “as rubbing the skin can irritate it and lead to inflammation.”
Here are a few more techniques, according to expert tutorials, you can try at home as you create your favorite facial massage routine:
Use your palms and fingertips to massage the sides of your face, starting at your chin and moving up toward your forehead. Then slide your hands back down.
Use your index and middle fingers to press under your cheekbones. Start at the center of your face and move toward your temples.
Use a circular motion to rub your fingers into your temples.
Press and glide your ring fingers into your brow bone. Move from the inner to the outer corner. Then do the same movement underneath your eyes.
Using your thumb and first finger, start at the outer corners of your eyebrows. Gently pinch your eyebrows as you move to the inner corner.
Press your fingers into the center of your brows. Glide them up toward your hairline. Then move your fingers toward your temples.
Press into your jaw as you move your fingers from the outside of your jaw toward your chin.
Use the outside of your pinky fingers to press into your neck, starting at the top and moving downward.
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