Facial massage helpful or harmful?

We’ve been seeing an upsurge of interest in this topic.  Claims for massage are many…….like it helps to keep skin firm, it helps with elasticity, it helps to keep skin young, etc.

First, I’ve never seen a single piece of science on this or a study.  And if you have……..please send it to me!  But, based on a lot of experience and observation, here’s what makes sense to me.

The “pros” of facial massage

  • It feels great and is relaxing, especially when someone else does it
  • Lymphatic drainage just about anywhere on the face and body is improved by massage
  • You can use the massage to get extra hydration (like a good serum, lotion or cream) into skin
  • A tight masseter (jaw) muscle may feel better, if you’re prone to clenching
  • Circulation to the skin generally increases a little with massage. Exercise is better.

The “cons” of facial massage

  • The oils or creams used may block pores and aggravate acne
  • There’s no evidence that it builds collagen, elastic fibers or “firms” the skin
  • Overly vigorous massage, especially on the thin eyelid and neck skin can over stretch it or cause trauma
  • It increases “broken” or dilated blood vessels, if too rough.
  • New skincare products used with it may cause an allergic reaction

Bottom Line:

  1. Avoid massaging the eye area unless instructed in how to do that by your doctor (sometimes used post filler).
  2. Always use a serum or lotion (something that glides easily) and don’t pull at your skin or be too rough.
  3. The direction of the massage doesn’t really matter since you’re not tightening the skin. If you want to finish “up” because it feels better to you, that’s totally fine.
Hope this helps,
Dr. Brandith Irwin
Founder, SkinTour
Director, Madison Skin & Laser Center
Follow my skin tips and travels on Instagram!

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