Would a daily face massage help to tone up the skin?
The beautician says so, but do I take his word for it ? Naah, I want more compelling evidence. Well, for one, most massage techniques promise to reduce sinus pressure, puffiness and fluid retention, while promoting lymphatic drainage and allowing your skincare products to penetrate deeper and absorb more easily. Also, there is a relationship between stiffness of facial muscles and sagging of facial skin. Stiffness is often an indicator of improper/inefficient lymph flow, which often stops toxins from being drained, thereby causing the swelling or sagging of facial skin. Application of pressure during massage drains away the tension thereby relaxing the face and avoiding wrinkles, and promotes both blood& oxygen circulation and lymphatic flow – leading to suppleness and firming. Sagging, swelling and puffiness is done away with, cheekbones and jaw line are made more prominent – i.e., more clearly defined. Our face structure is made up of over 40 muscles, which are frequently subject to abuse much worse than the body muscles, so it becomes even more critical to massage them so that they also become tightened and toned like those biceps and abs. In fact, if further argument is needed, the clincher is the fact that facial massage enhances the production of natural proteins like elastin and collagen which are critical for youthful skin.
How to do facial massage? Can I use any face cream / face serum for face massage? Should a face massage be the last step of skincare routine?
The obvious first step here is to start with a clean face as well as clean hands. This is obvious because one wouldn’t want to massage the impurities which settle on our face as we are exposed to the grimy, polluted everyday world into our sensitive facial skin. The recommended solution here is a good natural face wash, preferably with herbal cleansing ingredients like aloe vera, neem, honey and tea tree oil.
Moving on to the massage, a simple Google search will show hundreds of massage techniques, mostly good, many even with demonstrative videos, but I would like to recommend the following massage technique for beginners :
First of all, the focus should be to try and counteract the deleterious effects of gravity. So it is suggested that one starts from the chin, with a rhythmic upward circular motions with light pressure, moving up towards the temples, and onwards to the forehead. Once this circuit is completed, and repeated a few times, the next path should be from above your lips, via the sides of the nose (including the nose) and ending up with the skin just above and below the eyes. Once this is done and repeated a few times, one should move to the lowermost exposed skin, starting from the collar bones, upwards to the neck region and finishing on the jaw line. No rocket science just that we need to take a few other precautions while massaging – to get the maximum out of it. These are :
- It is strongly suggested that one should go for an exfoliation before massage; since that ensures that the skin can absorb the massage medium fully, therefore maximizing the benefit from a massage.
- It is strongly recommended that even during normal make-up, one should massage the product into the skin, rather than just slapping it on – if one intends to maximize the benefit that accrues with respect to skin tone and skin texture.
- During massage, it is recommended that different directions – clock wise vs counter clock wise be used for consecutive repetitions. Also, it will be best if one sticks to the three step routine mentioned above, and repeats in order, to ensure better circulation, and better absorption leading to more skin stimulation.
- It is suggested that one rubs the massage medium between the hands for a full minute to ensure that it is properly warmed up before it touches your face, and the massage is done for at least seven minutes – to further ensure absorption, circulation and stimulation.
In addition to all the above points, we need to be very clear about the “medium” of the massage. The beautician doesn’t just start a massage with dry hands – he will typically use a cream/serum/oil/moisturizer so that the movement of his hands is smooth and well lubricated. Even at home, we need to ensure that there is no tugging / pulling / friction which can actually make a massage counter-productive. There is another advantage – if the massage is the last thing you do at night before going to bed, a heavier and thicker night cream / serum is recommended – so that it helps your face retain moisture while you sleep, and the active ingredients have a better chance to get absorbed overnight.
However the tantalizing question remains –I understand that I should choose a massage “medium’, but what “medium” should I choose?
As advised above, a heavier, thicker night cream / night serum is recommended if the massage is done at night, a lighter, thinner moisturizer (with or without oil) is recommended if you are forced to massage in the day – something you should try to avoid. Also, the best bet is products containing natural herbs like saffron, sandalwood etc – these are typically mild with beneficial natural active ingredients.
To reiterate, it is unquestionably best to wind up your beauty regimen at night with a refreshing facial massage. The two intuitive reasons for this would be that 1) the skin, much like the rest of us, does the bulk of its repairing at night, and 2) the product we massage with has a better chance to get absorbed unhindered by make up overnight. Also, applying skin care products in the right order makes sure that the benefit received by our skin from each product is maximized. Typically, the thumb rule is to go from a thinner product (e.g. a liquid lotion) to a thicker product (cream / serum / oil), which suggests massage should come last.
To summarize, massage is very important, should be done properly with a natural ingredient based cream / serum, as the last skin care activity before going to bed for the night.