Whether it be at the start as part of the cleansing, or with a facial oil, facial massage is often credited with “de-puffing” your face, smoothing wrinkles, creating improved blood flow and assisting in the absorption of your serums or moisturisers.
Is a “glow from within” really possible from massage, and what does this do to your skin if utilised on a regular basis?
A massage is generally a relaxing experience, but it is important to note, as detailed in “Massage Therapies” in a 2012 Western Journal of Medicine article “To date, most of the clinical trials of massage have focused on psychological outcomes of treatment. Good evidence from randomized controlled trials indicates that massage reduces anxiety scores in the short term…limited evidence shows that these anxiety reductions are cumulative over time.”
Within a professional setting, facials will traditionally offer a form of massage as part of a first cleanse, application of a serum or to finish the treatment for a relaxed ending. Much like attempting to massage away cellulite, a massage across your face will often cause temporary edema (accumulation of fluid within your tissue) and erythema (superficial reddening of the skin) and this will simulate the feel of a smoother, plumper feel to the skin (and perhaps why we attribute facial massage to fewer wrinkles).
This is detailed in the 2002 “Rejuvenating Facial Massage – A Bane or a Boon“, noting “Although there are several subjective benefits with facial beauty treatment, there may be immediate side‐effects, such as erythema and edema.”
Ironically, this contradicts the idea that facial massage will slim your face (a popular concept across Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese cosmetic and beauty industries), but nevertheless there is a constant stream of new facial rolling and massaging devices claiming to create significant changes in your skin and face shape, including products like jade rollers. These stone facial rollers often note that they can “stimulate lymphatic drainage”
Discussed in the 2009 “Systematic Review of Efficacy for Manual Lymphatic Drainage Techniques in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation: An Evidence-Based Practice Approach”, “Manual lymphatic drainage techniques remain a clinical art founded upon hypotheses, theory, and preliminary evidence. Researchers must strive to clarify the biophysical effects that underpin its various proposed therapeutic applications in the human organism.”
It’s unlikely that at-home applications of jade roller or other over-the-counter massage tools will affect our lymphatic system, although it may be a relaxing way to smooth product into your skin and manipulate your tissue. Importantly, deep massage of the face with too much pressure could rupture existing blemishes, irritating any areas of healing skin or prod at cystic acne that may be present in the lower layers of skin.
With so little evidence pointing towards concrete benefits of massage outside of psychological pros, there is little reason to incorporate massage into your skin care routine. A more beneficial approach may be to opt for purely relaxation body or head massages, to soothe anxiety and reduce any stress-based skin inflammation.
Have you tried a dedicated facial massage product or service? Did you find it beneficial for your skincare routine?
Let us know in the comments below!