How to Perform Self-Massage for Healthier Skin


For an effective beauty treatment that’s completely free (and free of pain!), look no further than the self-massage. A massage can be customized based on what your skin (and psyche) needs at the time, and beauty benefits abound.


Benefits of Facial Massage 

Increased circulation and lymphatic drainage: Touch, particularly massage, prompts the body to increase blood circulation and lymphatic flow. Healthy circulation allows skin to better absorb oxygen and nutrients in the blood thereby “feeding” cells. It’s also the reason behind a post-facial glow.

Knowing your skin: Taking a few moments to massage your skin each day puts you in touch with areas prone to dryness, area that could use more attention by exfoliating, and areas prone to congestion.

Muscle toning: Celebrity facialist Nichola Joss explains that facial massage helps prevent muscle atrophy and makes muscles “sit correctly” for a sculpted lifted appearance.  

Relaxation: Many of us carry tension in certain parts of the face. (Do you ever get the telltale “11” between your brows after a stressful day?) Massage can relieve stored muscle tension, which in turn helps relax creases in the face. Massage also relaxes us in a more general way, too. A loving touch increases available levels of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, all hormones that contribute to a state of calm and happiness.


How to Perform Self-Massage:

Source: Shiny Diamond | Pexels

The most important thing to avoid when practicing self-massage is stretching the skin. Prep your skin by gently cleansing and applying a generous layer of moisturizer to your face and fingertips before getting started. If your skin tends to be dry, moisturize with a carrier oil (like Argan or rosehip seed oil) or oil-based product. Washing your hands and face prior to the massage will also help prevent the spread of bacteria. Finally, resist massaging broken skin or active acne to avoid worsening the affected area.

Incorporating facial massage into your skincare routine doesn’t take much. Spending five minutes to massage your face when you apply product every morning and evening is a beautifying habit that’s easy to look forward to!

Lymphatic massage

Although healthy individuals typically don’t need to do anything extra to support lymphatic drainage, applying pressure to pressure points on the face can help reduce fluid retention and minimize eye puffiness. Lymphatic massage is also an incredible way to unwind.

To practice lymphatic massage, rest your elbows on a solid surface. Apply pressure to pressure points using your middle fingers. Massage each point in small circles for 10 to 20 seconds. Facial pressure points include: corners of the jaw, corners of the mouth, points below and above the cheek bones, and the temples. Work from the bottom of the face up. Repeat the massage three times.  


Toning massage

Beauty guru Eva Scrivo explains that a toning massage gives your face a “mini workout” that helps subtly lift the facial muscles and relax prominent creases (like laugh lines). Using a sweeping motion, stroke your face with the pads of your fingers, making sure to use only upward or lateral movements (that move from the center to the edges of the face.)

There isn’t an exact formula for this style of massage, but a few areas to include: from the center of the chin to the corner of the jaw, the corners of the mouth and along the nasolabial lines, the inner cheekbones towards the hairline, the sides of the nose towards the browline, and from the browline to the hairline.


Additional Massage Techniques

Tapping: Use your fingertips to tap or drum your skin. Recommended by makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury, this technique is effective for reducing fluid retention and assisting the absorption of products.

Pinching: Using your thumb and bent forefinger, pinch along your jawline from chin to ear to tone the area.

Knuckle rolling: Make a loose fist. With your palms facing your skin, massage your lower face and neck by rolling your knuckles around the area. Makeup artist Jemma Kidd recommends this technique for applying moisturizer.  

Ayurvedic massage (Abhyanga): This ancient style of massage involves warming a carrier oil (like sesame oil) and mindfully massaging the entire body. If you’re focusing solely on your face, combine toning and lymphatic massage techniques while taking deep, slow breaths. The tensions of the day will melt away.


If you’re a visual learner, you may find it helpful to watch massage tutorials online. Youtube beauty guru Annie Jaffrey demonstrates many of the massage techniques detailed in this article in her facial massage video, including tapping, using circular motions to tone the muscles in the face, using upward strokes to fight gravity, targeting points of tension (like the forehead and the jaw), and practicing lymphatic drainage to reduce puffiness. For a more in-depth explanation of lymphatic drainage, check out facialist Alexandra Soveral’s video tutorial for Into the Gloss.


You may also be interested in makeup artist Lisa Eldrige’s comprehensive discussion of her favorite massage techniques and products. 



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Is self-massage part of your beauty routine? What are your favorite ways to treat your face?