Facial massage involves manual manipulation of skin tissue to alleviate muscle tension, release tight fascia, increase circulation to the skin, and reduce facial puffiness.
With regular practice, facial massage stimulates the skin’s natural detoxification process, which helps clear acne and brighten the complexion. It’s also an effective, zero-cost approach to bringing more contour and shape to the face because it helps boost collagen production in areas that have a lack of circulation and blood flow.
I personally do a bit of facial massage every day. My aim is to massage for 5-20 minutes daily, but that’s not always possible so a 2-3 minute massage is sometimes what actually gets done; if done with consistency, that’s about all you’ll need anyway to reap the main rewards.
As someone who used to receive cosmetic injections to help lift and smooth lines, I’ve found that daily facial massage—although a little more time-consuming than a 20 minute appointment every several months—has actually been more effective at preventing sagging skin, deep creases, and shadows on my face.
There are of course different techniques within facial massage.
Some require a light touch while others use more kneading or stroking motions, while still others use deep pressure points. It’s important to know the benefits and how to perform each method because this knowledge will help you set your intention when touching your face.
Here’s a quick guide:
A light handed facial massage will help increase circulation on the surface of the skin, which helps give the skin a fresh glow. When light touch is accompanied by outward stroking motions on the face it helps to move stagnant lymph fluid, which can help reduce puffiness in the face and clear acne.
The immune system is directly impacted by the function of the lymphatic system, so it’s important to use this kind of massage when you feel fatigued, under the weather, or if you have a new cluster of blemishes forming (movement of immune cells will help to clear bacteria under the skin). If you’re feeling stagnation in your sinuses, it can also help to alleviate the pressure by moving out cellular waste and fluid build up.
Takeaway: Light touch helps improve circulation and lymphatic movement.
Medium Pressure/ Kneading the skin:
A big part of seeing changes in the facial structure is manipulating the fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue matrix made up of collagen fibers that surround our muscles, bones, tendons, and other structures in our body. It directly impacts our movement, flexibility, and posture. When the face and body don’t get enough movement during the day the fascia starts to become stiff, thick, and sticky. When this happens it restricts movement of the muscles, circulation of blood flow, and movement of lymphatic fluid, leading to puffiness, wrinkles, and a dull complexion.
If you’ve ever wondered how ‘stiff fascia’ leads to wrinkle formation, this is how it happens: The fascia layer is directly connected to the skin AND facial muscles, so when the muscles of the face make the same motions consistently, the fascia begins to bind the skin toward the muscle contraction. When that happens often enough, it just starts to stay that way. Releasing tightness and stiffness in the fascia will help soften the associated lines and wrinkles.
When done regularly, and the skin starts to receive more oxygen to repair the damaged collagen (the wrinkle), it will start to look smoother and less creased.
Massaging hard or stiff fascia can also help to keep the skin looking and feeling more hydrated because it allows more circulation through the deeper layers of the skin.
Takeaway: Medium pressure massage helps to improve the flexibility of the fascia layer.
Deep pressure points:
Deep pressure massage is typically done to relieve tension in the facial muscles. We don’t often consciously feel ourselves holding tension in the face, but it is super common for us to hold tension around the jaw, the mouth, and between the brows. Stress or tension in the face is well known for creating lines and wrinkles in the face. Just think of the area between the brows; we see plain as day how those lines are formed because we can actually see the bulky muscles in this area creating them!
Less common to the naked eye are areas like the jawline, cheeks and mouth where tight muscles lead to asymmetries, folds around the mouth, bulkiness or fullness below the jaw or sagging skin tissue.
Tight jaw muscles are also known to cause breakouts around the jawline and puffiness around the eyes because the lymphatic nodes (which need to be open for proper detoxification) are located right around where tight jaw muscles will restrict the flow of fluid and energy.
Takeaway: Deep pressure helps relieve chronic muscle tension.
So how do we start a facial massage practice?
Here are a few tips to help you get going.
Set aside the time:
Whether it’s 5 min or an hour, there are benefits either way! It’s so easy to push these things off and say you’ll get to it tomorrow, but I recommend that you find a way to incorporate this into your daily routine. Once you start, you’ll realize how easy it is! Put it on your schedule.
What to use:
If you have an oil cleansing routine, this may be the best time to get in your facial massage. If not, grab a facial oil appropriate for your skin and after you’ve washed your face, add a few drops of facial oil to your hands and start your massage at this time. I have different oils that help with different concerns that you can check out here Facial Oils
Use different pressure depths:
Use your thumbs or fingers under bony areas like the cheeks and brows and start by pressing deep into the skin tissue for about 3-5 seconds with each probe. Breathe deeply to help the stress leave the muscles faster. The focus here is feeling your muscles relax or melt with each movement.
Use medium pressure with your fingers and palms using gripping or kneading motions all over the face. The focus here is on releasing tight fascia, shaping the face, and increasing circulation.
Use your fingertips, the back side of the hands, or light pressure with the palms and make superficial swiping or stroking motions moving outward (and eventually downward on the neck) to relieve fluid retention. This will help the face look and feel more alert and will reduce facial puffiness within a few minutes of practice. The focus here is feeling a sense of deep relaxation and feather light strokes on the skin.
Set your intention before you start. You can move intuitively but setting an intention such as “I want to reduce puffiness” or “I’m going to sculpt and lift my face today” will not only improve your results but will also help to naturally guide your movements during your practice.
Move slowly during your facial massage practice. The idea is to relax the muscles so that things can start moving more freely throughout the face and skin. Moving too quickly through your routine won't allow your muscles to actually relax.
Drink water after doing your facial massage. This assists the body in flushing out the wastes, fluids, and toxins you just released from your facial tissue. Not drinking water may result in a headache.
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Here’s a quick list of benefits whether you’re making a daily practice out of facial massage or just giving yourself some TLC once in a while. Either way, your skin will be happy!
The Benefits of Doing Facial Massage Every Once in a While:
-Can help de-puff your face after a heavy meal or a night of drinking
-Brings more flexibility, shape, and contour to the face
-Can help relieve headache
-Reduces muscle tension
-Increases collagen production
-Helps move stagnant lymph
-Help to release stuck fascia, which can otherwise contribute to pain and inflammation in the body
The Benefits of Doing Facial Massage Everyday for the Rest of your Life:
- Real, sustainable, natural anti-aging benefits without cosmetic injections or surgery
- Optimal elasticity and better looking skin overall - A sustained, natural glow to the skin
- Less prone to facial puffiness and a more alert and rested look overall
- Improved digestion and hormonal balance (from various acupressure points on the face)
- Minimal fluid retention day to day
- Relief from long-term pain associated with migraines and TMJ
- Noticeably sculpted and toned facial structure
- Deeper connection of mind and body