Facial massages have recently taken over social media by storm. Influencers on Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and other sites have promoted the practice of facial massages by using jade or rose quartz rollers, gua sha, or by simply using their fingers to work oils and serums into their pores.
According to these influencers, all skin types can benefit from these face rollers. By stimulating the lymphatic system, these massages supposedly enhance blood circulation in the face, reduce puffiness and water retention, fight wrinkles and sagging skin, and help carve away double chins.
While influencers boast confidently about these health benefits, dermatologists are a bit more skeptical. Dr. Natasha Cook, a dermatologist based in Sydney, Australia says “Anything that’s visual will be popular on Instagram and TikTok platforms. It doesn’t mean they work,” and further adds, “It’s an entertainment piece, I think that’s all it is. If you understand the essence of ageing … the action of rolling or massaging just does not equate with fixing that, except for [being] a glorified facial. “
So maybe using a jade roller at night or doing a special facial massage in the morning really just adds some excitement to our daily skin routine, if anything else. Even though Cook and others have denounced the efficacy of massages on the skin, others have supported the idea that they can carry other benefits beyond that of the skin.
In fact, physiotherapist David O’Brian, a co-owner of Glebe Physio in Sydney explains that facial massages can actually help strengthen the muscles in your face. “Massaging” the oil into your skin can target problem areas like the jaw or chin which can wear and tear over time, like our other muscles. Physiotherapists will often massage facial muscles to treat jaw pain or temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) and its associated headaches, a dysfunction that can be “very painful and scary,” according to O’Brian.
Your jaw is connected to various parts of your skull and is supported by various muscles, says O’Brian, adding that using facial massage can provide “some immediate relief” to tension created by the jaw, and any headaches that follow it.
“The easiest muscles to attempt this on are the masseter muscle and the temporalis muscle. You can find the masseter muscle towards the back part of your cheeks, towards your ears,” he says, “The temporalis muscle can be found in the front part of your temples and covers a large portion of the side of your skull. Both muscles can be felt bunching up underneath your fingertips when you clench your jaw.These massages can easily be done, and are perhaps most effective when you use your finger tips to massage them.
O’Brian additionally adds that googling these muscles can give you a better perspective on where these muscles are. However, if you are experiencing jaw pain or frequent headaches, talking to your doctor, physio, or even your dentist can help you locate the specific area and how to treat it.
So, while facial rollers may not be entirely effective in fighting acne or reducing wrinkles, O’Brian, Cook, and many other dermatologists all agree that the use of facial oils and massages can be effective in helping you de-stress and relax. Coupled with mindfulness and meditation, it can be a very grounding daily practice worth implementing into a regular routine.
If you do try it at home, trying it out first with a gua sha or a roller to help you get acquainted the massage technique to your skin. Try not to overdo it either, as there is certainly such a thing as too much of a good thing.
“Excessive massage can cause skin inflammation or irritation and will have negative effects in sensitive skin types,” she says. O’Brian says that people with skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis should avoid massaging their face excessively without consulting a doctor first.