Getting a facial massage is undoubtedly a great way to pamper yourself after a long week of hard work, which targets the facial muscles and releases tension, helping alleviate stress and allowing you to relax, unwind, and recharge. However, the perks of facial massages extend beyond their relaxing effect to appealing skin health benefits as it is believed to enhance blood circulation and promote skin firmness. Some experts even believe that a facial massage should be an integral part of your skincare routine, and not getting your face massaged or massaging it yourself at home basically means you’re leaving so many skin benefits on the table. “The same way you have a daily cleansing and moisturizing routine, you should have a facial massage routine,” says Dr. Shari Auth DACM, LAC, LMT is a certified acupuncturist and herbalist, as well as the co-founder of WTHN. A long time ago, the main reliable tool for facial massages was the bare hands or traditional tools, but just like any other manual technique, technology has left its impact on facial massaging and resulted in the creation of electric, at-home facial massagers. "Facial massage devices can be helpful in increasing blood flow, leading to decreased puffiness and improved circulation,” says plastic surgeon Melissa Doft, MD, the founder of Doft Plastic Surgery and a clinical assistant professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. With this in mind, keep reading to learn more about facial massages, including the various types of at-home facial massagers and the scientifically proven skin benefits of this age-old technique. We’ll also debunk the widely held beliefs about facial massages to help you set realistic expectations before incorporating massage into your skincare routine. Without further ado, let's get right into it.
Don’t Set Yourself Up for Disappointment, Set Realistic Expectation
Dr. Amir Karam, MD, board-certified facial plastic surgeon specializing in facial rejuvenation, says that while facial massage can increase skin circulation, reduce facial tension by helping the face relax, and help with lymphatic drainage, it won’t “change facial shape or give you that V-shape that you’re looking for, it won’t rejuvenate your skin, improve pigmentation, or stimulate collagen, So the reality is, it’s a good thing to do but it’s not going to replace good skincare and good skin hygiene and practices.” Celebrity facialist Candace Marino, who has worked with Giuliana Rancic, Mandy Moore, and more, stresses the importance of setting “realistic expectations” before purchasing an at-home facial massager. “While face massagers can be a great — and fun — addition to self-care, they’re not the end-all-be-all for anti-aging. A good skin-care routine should be prioritized, because what you put on your skin regularly is what’s going to give you results and maintain the health of your skin,” she says. Echoing this statement, Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama, says that people should use a-home facial massagers only to complement “but not substitute good product selection [or] for anything that you’re going to do in the office.” It is also important to keep in mind that you should massage your face in moderation in order to avoid the possible side effects of excessive facial massaging. In fact, this skincare technique might not be even for everyone. Sydney-based dermatologist Natasha Cook explained to The Guardian that “Excessive massage can cause skin inflammation or irritation and will have negative effects in sensitive skin types.”
Bare Hands, Manual Tools, or Electric Devices: Which Is Better?
Hands have been a common tool to massage the face for centuries in Asia, according to Dr. Shari Auth, such techniques “were popularized by the aristocracy of China and heralded for their anti-aging benefits.” Paris-based Anastasia Goron, a facial exercise expert and founder of All You Can Face strongly suggests employing this centuries-old technique for better skin, saying, “Using our hands while doing facial exercises or massages will not only give you the best results when it comes to lymphatic drainage or enhancing circulation, but it develops a dialogue between you and the skin." She continues, “touching and feeling your skin regularly will foster the ability to understand yourself better.” On the other hand, at-home facial massagers are believed to yield relatively better (or at least quicker) results. These come in different shapes and forms and can be generally classified into either manual or electric massagers. One of the most common manual massagers is the Gua Sha, a traditional Chinese stone designed to be scraped across the face to increase blood circulation in the skin. A jade face roller is another popular traditional tool of Chinese medicine that is made of jade stone, which is naturally cool to the touch and does not lose much of its coolness as it massages the face, which is helpful in reducing puffiness, improving blood circulation, and stimulating lymphatic drainage. Electric facial massagers, on the other hand, save users some effort and automatically massage the face for you. These tools, which include facial wands and vibrating facial massagers, are usually battery-powered and come with various speeds and several massage modes for convenience. Now, in case you were wondering which massaging tool would offer you the best results, you’ll have to try it yourself to find out the option that works best for you and specifically addresses your skin concerns. Some even opt to combine both manual and electric massagers in their skincare routine since each works differently and can offer different benefits for the skin.
More Blood Circulation But Not Necessarily More Collagen
Facial massage can have a temporarily plumping or tightening effect on the skin, improving its overall feel and appearance. The gentle pressure you apply to the facial muscles and tissues during a face massage may aid in delivering more oxygen to the skin cells and enhance blood circulation, contributing to a more radiant and youthful complexion. A 2002 research found that around 54% of women who had a facial massage experienced supple skin, while 50% reported skin tightening. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that facial massage is helpful in relieving tight muscles, tightening skin, and enhancing blood circulation. A study aimed to investigate how effective facial massage that includes a stimulating massage device can be when used alongside cream on the face and neck found that after eight weeks. participants saw noticeable improvements in skin texture, wrinkles, and sagging. Bear in mind that these improvements might not be permanent but they’re just the immediate result of facial massaging. Speaking about one of the most commonly used facial massagers, jade rollers, Board-certified dermatologist and skincare expert Andrea Suarez, MD, FAAD says that “there’s no scientific evidence or laboratory studies to support the claim that jade rollers boost collagen and can be helpful for wrinkles and fine lines.” She adds, “I can’t pull out any plausible mechanism for boosting collagen production.”
Celebrities Swear By Lymphatic Drainage Massage, Experts Are Doubtful
The lymphatic vascular system plays a key role in regulating tissue pressure, immune surveillance, and absorbing dietary fat in the intestine. Strong evidence also suggests that this system contributes to the development of several diseases, including cancer metastasis, lymphedema, and a number of inflammatory disorders. The lymphatic system drains fluid called lymph to be carried back into the bloodstream through hundreds of lymph nodes. Moreover, it affects the overall appearance of the skin and skin health as it is responsible for removing bodily waste and carrying white blood cells that aid in preventing infection. A lymphatic system that isn’t functioning properly might lead to increased acne, premature aging, and loss of skin elasticity. Fluid may begin to build up if your lymphatic system suffers from any type of damage or obstruction and causes facial swelling as a result. Lymphatic drainage face massage is argued to be effective in reducing this puffiness dull skin complexion, and irritation. A small 2010 study involving around sixty individuals suggests that lymphatic drainage may offer some firming properties to the skin. “Lymphatic drainage treatments accelerate the absorption and transportation of lymphatic fluids which contain toxins, bacteria, viruses, and proteins,” says certified lymphedema therapist Lisa Levitt Gainsley. “Lymphatic drainage massage is a gentle massage that targets the lymphatic system, which resides just beneath the skin,” explains Mae Murakami, a physical therapist at Cedars-Sinai. “It can be a powerful tool for people whose lymphatic system is compromised from surgery, illness or injury.” However, while some therapists claim that facial lymphatic drainage can yield results that resemble a miniature facelift, this claim isn’t convincing for some experts. Dermatologist George Cotsarelis questioned in an article published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation whether someone could even have lymphatic drainage problems in their face. “If you do, you’re certainly not going to get a facial to solve them. A normal person does not have lymphatic problems on their face,” he argued. “You might be able to make a case that you could reduce fluid buildup by having a facial to encourage drainage when your skin has fewer lymphatics. So promoting lymphatic flow can have benefits. Whether or not this is achieved with a facial is a different story.”
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