There are many types of anti-aging facelift massage techniques, tools, and traditions. Facial massage is a treatment that encourages blood flow and lymphatic drainage and improves the overall appearance of the skin. Research is preliminary, but much anecdotal evidence supports the technique as a way to slow the signs of aging.
Facial massage involves light-to-medium pressure using your hands or tools to relieve tension and improve the appearance of your skin.
Many facial massage techniques exist, like gua sha, reflexology, and lymphatic drainage.
Most techniques involve using medium pressure and moving out from the center of the face towards the hairline.
Facial massage is considered a safe treatment that you can perform at home.
What is a facial massage?
Facial massage is a treatment that you can receive from a clinician or perform on yourself with clean hands or massage tools. Many people turn to face massage for skin tightening, but it is also used to relieve sinus pressure and headaches, prevent acne, and get glowing skin.
A facial massage is typically done with light-to-firm pressure and varies depending on what part of your face you’re targeting. It is believed to encourage lymphatic drainage and promote blood circulation in the face. Some face massage techniques also target the neck, collarbone, shoulders, and armpits.
Can face massages reduce the signs of aging?
Many people use face massage for wrinkles, de-puffing, and skin elasticity. Many experts suggest that facial massage works because it targets your lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made up of nodes and vessels. Lymphatic fluid flows through the lymph vessels, detoxifying and flushing your system as it goes. The lymph vessels connect to lymph nodes.
Lymph nodes are found in the following areas:
As the lymph fluid moves through the vessels, it detoxifies your body. Most experts agree that facial massage moves excess fluid and that this calms puffiness and inflammation, and helps to repair tissue and support collagen production.
Facial massage also encourages proper blood circulation, which is essential to healthy, glowing skin. In a 2018 study, participants conducted 5-minute facial massages using face massage rollers and found that short and long-term improvements in blood flow occurred in participants. In 2022, a 12-week study administered facial massage, creams, and steams to 142 women. 54% of women reported tighter and refreshed skin.
How to prepare for a facial massage
Before your facial massage, be sure to thoroughly clean your hands and tools. Clean and moisturize your face, and have a clean cloth and massage oil nearby. Drink plenty of water before and after to encourage detoxification and support healthy skin.
Tools and equipment for facial massage
Many experts recommend using a face massage tool to avoid transferring dirt from your hands to your face. There are several different kinds of tools you can use:
Many people find that they relax and relieve pressure, allowing them to receive the benefits of a face massage without having to use their hands. Electronic face massagers and vibrating face masks are new to the market.
Gua sha tools
Gua sha is a traditional Eastern Asian massage technique that uses flat, smooth tools with rounded edges to scrap over areas on the face, neck, and body. Gua sha massage is believed to support the overall health of the entire body.
Face rollers are often made of rose quartz or jade. Many people prefer face rollers because they can be cooled in the refrigerator and used to gently de-puff skin and relieve inflammation.
Choosing the best oil for face massage
Oil is an important component of a facial massage; it moisturizes your skin so that your hands or massage tools don’t pull at the delicate skin around your eyes and on your face. What oil works for you will depend on your skin type. It is generally recommended not to use essential oils directly on your skin; instead, dilute them in a carrier oil that you’ve tested on your face.
The most common kinds of oil used for face massage are:
- Olive oil
- Almond oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Shea butter
- Jojoba oil
Facial massage for different face areas
Whether you’re using a tool or your hands, there are many different massage techniques you can use. However, there are some general guidelines, no matter what massage style you choose:
- Prepare your lymph nodes. Apply pressure to your lymph nodes before your massage to encourage proper drainage. Begin at the armpits, then move to the neck and face.
- Move in one direction. When massaging, move from the center of the face outward, and don’t go back and forth.
- Don’t press too hard. The skin on your face is delicate, especially as you age.
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of water before and after to encourage detoxification.
Massaging the lymph nodes
Many techniques begin by massaging the lymph nodes to encourage drainage. First, cup your palm over your armpit, and using medium pressure, press several times. Next, cross your arms over your chest, so your hands fall above your collarbone on either side. Using medium pressure, press several times.
Next, move up to the middle of your neck. With light pressure, rub down the side of your neck to the shoulder several times. Then, move up to the top of the neck (where it meets your ear) and repeat this motion several times. Next, clasp your hands around the back of your neck, and beginning at your hairline, slide your fingers down to the base of your neck.
Last, spread your fingers and slide them onto either side of your head, around your ears. Rub gently in a circular motion several times.
Massaging the chin and cheeks
Make a peace sign with your fingers, then bend them. Using medium pressure, slide your fingers from your chin to your ear several times. Using the same hand position and pressure, slide your fingers along your cheekbones from your mouth and upward towards your ears.
You can also use a tool with the same motion.
Massaging under the eyes
The skin under your eyes is the most delicate, so use the lightest pressure you possibly can. Place either your massage tool or your middle finger under your eyes, at the center, and sweep outward and up toward your hairline several times.
Massage the brow line
Take your pointer and middle finger and, with light-to-medium pressure, begin at the center of your eyebrow and slowly move out toward your hairline. Repeat as many times as you’d like. You can also use a tool with the same motion.
Massaging the forehead
Forehead wrinkles are often the first to appear as your skin ages. Here’s how to massage your forehead to remove wrinkles. Take your fingers or your tool and use medium pressure to slide from the top of your eyebrow up to your hairline several times. Repeat with the opposite eyebrow, and then finally repeat beginning at the center point between your eyebrows.
Side effects of facial massage
Facial massage is considered generally safe, although some studies have reported rare side effects:
- Redness or bruising with aggressive massage techniques
- Acne breakouts in acne-prone skin
- Skin dryness
Is it ok to massage your face every day?
Yes. It is safe to massage your face every day. However, most experts recommend massaging one to three times weekly.
At what age should you start facial massages?
You can start facial massages at any age. Experts recommend beginning at puberty or when collagen production begins to decline at age 25.
What is the most effective anti-aging facial treatment?
There are many anti-aging treatments, and what works for you will depend on your unique needs. Some people use dermabrasion, botulinum toxin therapy, chemical peels, or retinol. Others take NMN supplements or collagen peptides.
- Science Daily. Ready for a close-up: The science behind face massage rollers.
- Wiley Online Library. Rejuvenating facial massage—a bane or boon?
- ScienceDirect. Short and long-term effects of using a facial massage roller on facial skin blood flow and vascular reactivity.