If you’ve ever had the pleasure of being mid-facial when your aesthetician begins to incorporate a face massage into your treatment, then you know. Those initial internal giggles at your face getting slapped and kneaded quickly melt away into sheer bliss, because it just feels so good. After all, our faces are full of muscles that we use for everything – talking, eating, thinking, stressing (that’s a full time job for some of us these days) – so it makes sense that we’re holding tension in those overworked muscles and that rubbing that tension away would offer much-needed relief. But now, we’ve got to relieve that stress ourselves.
Facial massage is commonplace in French skincare routines as well as in many Eastern cultures, but much to our detriment, most Americans don’t incorporate it into our daily skincare rituals. But if there’s ever been a time to take a page from these cultures’ self-care guidebooks, it’s now!
Facial Massage Is Good for Your Skin — and Your Mental Health
Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas says, “Your skin responds to any type of self-care, and taking an extra five minutes to de-stress and think good things about yourself during a face massage will absolutely pay off and help you feel better during this stressful and strange time.”
And while the self-care benefits of facial massage are reason enough to give it a try, the beauty benefits read like a checklist for the skin of your dreams: It boosts collagen production, improves elasticity, detoxifies, relaxes the look of wrinkles, delivers a healthy glow — and that’s the short list. Vargas shares, “Facial massage increases circulation, which oxygenates the tissue and gives you a healthy glow. It also stimulates the lymphatic system, which is responsible for delivering fresh nutrients to the skin, which makes your skin look healthier and helps with de-puffing and contouring the face.”
The Best Time of Day for a Facial Massage
So how does the amateur facialist incorporate this almost-magical sounding step into their skincare routine? You can do a face massage any time of day, but Vargas suggests adding it into your nighttime skincare routine. “Nighttime is your body’s time to repair itself and when your body hits into high gear, so [if you massage your face before bed] you’re going to wake up looking like an angel!”
Just remember that whenever you do your massage, always wash your face first, since massaging dirt, oil, and makeup into your skin is counterproductive. You can also use any of your skincare products as your massaging agent: a facial oil (use something gentle, as combining a peel with the friction of the massage could end up being too harsh), a serum, or even a moisturizer can work. “You can really use whatever you have,” says Vargas. “If you’re using a moisturizer but need some extra slip for the massage, just wet your hand a little and mix a touch of water in to create a more massage-able surface.”
How to Give Yourself a Face Massage
There are multiple motions you can use for your massage: Using your middle and ring fingers in circular, upward motions; using your fingers and palms in sweeping, upward motions; gentle tapping or ‘piano playing’ type movements around your jawline, or dragging your knuckles from your chin to your ears (bye-bye jowls!). Also, remember to think intuitively about your motions and what you’re ultimately trying to help your skin accomplish. And don't forget, always work up against gravity, versus dragging your skin down, as well as from in to out, pushing fluid build-up away, versus back toward the center of your face.
As for determining the right amount of pressure for your massage — the skin on your face is delicate, after all — Vargas says that you want to see that you are actually moving your skin as you massage, but you don’t want to stretch it.
And one major no-no? Never massage over a breakout, since it’s very easy to spread bacteria from one area to another. Vargas suggests putting a spot treatment or mask over a pimple before you begin your massage to not only help heal the breakout, but also to mark the spot so you are careful to work around it.
Ultimately, Vargas says there is really no wrong way to massage your face from a self-care standpoint. “If it feels good, you are probably doing something good.”
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