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Seanna Cohen, skin care therapist and founder of Elodie Beauty, helps clients keep their skin healthy naturally, and uses massage whenever she performs facials. She says that, like our bodies, our faces need regular movement to keep them supple and toned. Regular massage can have benefits similar to those of yoga—increased circulation, less sagging and reduced tension in the muscles. "We don't spend a lot of time working our face, so it gets kind of dull, especially with aging skin," says Cohen. "With massage, the blood is going to flow to the face; it's going to oxygenate the skin and bring added nutrients." And bonus: It also helps you absorb more of those precious products you're applying, so you get better bang for your buck.
In Cohen's practice, after cleansing and exfoliating, she generally performs 15 to 20 minutes of massage and acupressure. Starting with the shoulder and chest area, where she concentrates on lymphatic drainage, she works her way up to the face. But at home, she knows we don't have time to do a thorough massage every day. So she recommends massaging your face for just a minute each day as part of your regular skin care routine. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
The benefits of facial massage
As we age, our bodily systems can slow down, but massage helps get everything moving again, explains Cohen. In addition to increasing circulation in the skin and promoting more absorption of skin care products in the process, Cohen says that working the face can help tone the muscles, like you would tone your arms and legs in a workout. “You’ll find that, over time, the slackening that happens with aging kind of slows down,” she says. “It helps to strengthen the core muscles, especially through the mouth and chin area.” Massage also helps to relax muscles where we hold wrinkle-causing tension.
Facial massage techniques
After cleansing your face and your hands (you don’t want to spread any bacteria), Cohen recommends applying a serum with hyaluronic acid to help the skin draw in and retain moisture. Then, apply a plant-based oil (she recommends rosehip or sea buckthorn). Massage the oil into the neck and décolleté in upward sweeping motions. “You want upward motion because it goes against gravity,” explains Cohen. Continue to sweep up around the jaw, then use outward circular motions as you massage over the lines above your mouth. Try to go against the grain of any lines to smooth them out. “As you move up your face, move up and out,” she says. Though Cohen cautions about being very gentle around the undereye, she says the upper eye is an important place to work to relieve tension. “Starting at the corner of your eyebrow closest to your nose, move up and out, kind of lifting the eyebrow.” Finally, make smoothing motions on the forehead, from the centre to the outer corners. “You’re going to feel a little warm, your face might get red and that’s good. It means the blood is coming to the surface,” says Cohen.
Who shouldn’t use facial massage
Though there are anti-aging benefits to facial massage, Cohen warns that if someone has active acne, they may want to avoid potentially spreading bacteria and they should look into acupressure instea, which can also help promote circulation. And, if you suffer from rosacea, exercise caution becuase the extra blood flow could exacerbate redness.
What else you need to know
Cohen recommends facial massage to anyone who wants to naturally improve the appearance of their skin and get the maximum potential out of their skin care products. But, she says, topical skin care can only go so far. Eating well, hydrating your skin from within and wearing a natural sunscreen to protect your face from sun damage are the best ways to ensure your skin stays healthy in the long term.
Want to do more to keep your skin looking healthy naturally? Incorporate these skin superfoods into your diet.