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Facial massage – does it really DO anything?

By Georgia Seago
24th January 2023

In a world of high-tech tools, active ingredients and cutting-edge tweakments, is there a place in aesthetics for good old facial massage?

Aside from being seriously relaxing, massage has proven health benefits which are largely linked to the lymphatic system. ‘Stiff muscles in your face can cause unhealthy blood flow and poor lymphatic circulation, which means our tissues do not receive enough nutrients and oxygen, resulting in inadequate detoxification in our system,’ says Dimple Amani, lymphatic drainage specialist and Ayurvedic practitioner. ‘This often results in a dull complexion, puffiness, and drooping of the cheeks due to the weight of water retention.’

What about buccal massage?

Amani is known for her buccal massage treatment – the same ‘buccal’ (cheek-to-jaw) area from which everyone’s talking about having removed at the moment, but buccal massage isn’t remotely invasive. It does involve the massage therapist putting their fingers inside your mouth, though. ‘It is performed inside the mouth, slightly deeper to release tension and specifically target drooping jowls,’ explains Amani, adding, ‘This lower region of the chin is a known problem area that many people try to tighten through topical means, but these are often ineffective.’ There are a whole host of fab tweakments to treat jowls, but there’s no harm in giving buccal massage a go if you’re a bit procedure averse.

Can massage really sculpt the face?

Yes, according to the experts, but you’d have to be religious with your massages to keep up the results. Though the effects are short-lived, TTG-registered facialist Diane Nivern is a big proponent of facial massage and how it can transform the face: ‘Muscles are covered by a fine layer of tissue called fascia which thickens to form attachments to bone  – massage helps to relax that layer, helping underlying structures “pop” up and restoring those youthful three-dimensional curves that bring back fullness in the mid-face and reduces the weight and volume in the lower face,’ she says. In particular, ‘tight chewing (masseter) muscles can flatten the mid-face, pulling flat the fat pad in the cheek and giving the face a drawn or tired look. This in turn can create a down-turned, sad-looking mouth that makes for a heavier jawline, jowls, and marionette lines.’

How long does it take to see results?

‘Results are immediate after just one buccal or standard facial massage,’ says Amani. ‘And when you consistently go for treatments more bone structure and shaping takes place in the face. It helps lift the face and activates the lymph nodes, flushing out water retention and leaving your face properly nourished.’

Can you have facial massage if you’ve got filler?

Nivern advises waiting at least two weeks after dermal fillers before having facial massage to give the filler time to ‘settle’ in place. ‘This is especially important after tear trough fillers,’ she says. ‘One must be gentle with superficial strokes and tapping from the outer corner of the eye to the inner corner to avoid dislodging the filler.’ While she doesn’t believe massage breaks down filler, she avoids applying deep pressure to clients who have been injected into the cheeks or jawline.

Gua sha – wonder tool or gimmick?

Gua sha tools gained popularity during lockdown when we were all looking to boost our self-care – and slim down our faces – from home. But is an expensive piece of jade or amethyst carved to hug the contours of the face really necessary for facial massage when we have hands? Apparently so. ‘When used correctly gua sha tools can be very helpful, especially in sweeping away fluids that create puffiness,’ says Nivern. And they’re ok with filler, too.  ‘They’re beneficial for relaxing the tight fascia under the skin especially around the mouth and along the jawline – it feels like popping bubble wrap. However, I don’t think you can beat the feedback you get from using your own hands to tell you where feels tight, lumpy or painful.’

And facial cupping?

We wouldn’t advise it. Facial cupping involves sticking small silicone or larger glass cups to the face via suction and moving them around to stimulate blood flow to the skin. The TikTok beauty influencers reckon it reduces inflammation, give facial muscles a workout and boost radiance, but Nivern says to avoid: ‘I don’t feel this is something to try at home – some of the devices I have tried, like the little silicone cones for example, can easily create bruising from the suction created.’

Instead, learn how to do a basic facial massage at home and get yourself a gua sha tool if you fancy it.

 

 

The Tweakments Guide Takeaway

Facial massage feels fab - and yes, it has definite benefits for your face - and it's fine if you've got fillers.

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