A Natural Facelift

Six facial massage techniques to help lift and sculpt the skin


We as skin care professionals have a unique position in the beauty industry as our profession holds a place in both a high tech and hands on world. Throughout the years we have witnessed spectacular collaborations of skin and science in our professional products bringing forward ingredient innovations that offer impressive immediate and long-term results visible in our client’s skin. We have had an advantage of evolution and innovation in our professional treatments- LED, Lasers, and Sonic waves are upgrading our level of results-oriented offerings in our spas.

Yet even with all of our strikingly updated equipment and shiny new machines I would still insist that the most powerful modality we as skin care professionals offer is the facial massage. In theory we were taught how facial massage imparts so many benefits to our client’s skin, most notably relaxation of tension in the muscles and increased circulation that reoxygenates and detoxifies the skin leaving behind a healthy nourished lift and glowing complexion.

Our touch as a professional skin therapist brings forward the personal detail of connection within every facial.

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While this is all true there is one element of massage that no matter the origin, unites each method, this is the element of touch. Our touch as a professional skin therapist brings forward the personal detail of connection within every facial. Our skin possesses multitudes of receptors that communicate directly to our brains.

Physical contact like massage is a key component to increased oxytocin levels that boost emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Stretching our hands beyond the beauty of classic Friction, Effleurage, Tapotement, and Petrissage. Let’s explore a few specialized facial massage techniques designed to uplift the skin and spirit while still benefiting or possibly rivaling some of our client’s most popular cosmetic procedures.

BUCCAL MASSAGE: This advanced rejuvenating “massage in the mouth” requires an experienced practitioner who understands facial anatomy and muscle structure. This massage works deep into the layers of the skin requiring precise action on the cheeks, ligaments, and muscle tissue from the inside and outside which makes Buccal massage anything but superficial.

Benefits: Buccal massage offers results deeper in the tissue layers. Once complete, you will immediately notice more lifted, sculpted cheekbones with improved facial contour. Also known to boost metabolism in the face, you will notice less puffiness overall with improved muscle tone and a smoother radiant appearance in your complexion. A series of massage treatments are recommended to achieve optimal results. This number is unique to your client’s personal goals and is determined with your initial consultation.

Avoid if your client has had a serious facial injury, has a strong gag reflex, cancer, thyroid or gland disorder, skin infections, facial bruising, jaw, or tooth pain.

GUA SHA- A branch in the system of East Asian Medicine for facial health and beauty, this massage uses a polished smooth contoured gemstone as a tool for treatment. Gua Sha massage is performed with a facial oil as the therapist glides the stone in long sweeping strokes following an up and out pattern on the face, sweeping away pockets of congestion and restoring overall vibrancy.

Benefits: Adapting Gua Sha facial massage into your current treatment menu is an accessible and affordable way to offer clients an updated and impressive massage technique. Gua Sha gently removes areas of stagnation in the skin which increases life force energy, removes toxins, and stimulates lymphatic drainage. Uplifting, and toning your entire facial area while imparting a relaxed youthful rosy glow that lasts for days after your treatment is performed.

Avoid performing Gua Sha on overactive or inflamed acne, and be mindful of excessive pulling or dragging of the skin. That is why oil is so important. You want to maintain an equal grip and flow with the skin in this treatment.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage: This relatively safe massage manually addresses a system of our body that does not have a pump to clear it of toxins like our heart does. The lymph system is extremely beneficial in clearing blemishes or breaking up stagnation on our skin. Our lymph nodes are part of the body’s defense system and produce antibodies to fight infection. By targeting and applying gentle pumping pressure to specific areas on the face, neck, and chest you are activating the draining and clearing of potentially detrimental toxins that create havoc in the body and can be visible as redness or felt as heat on the surface of the skin.

Benefits: Our body’s lymphatic system has the important job of being our whole-body waste management system. The lymphatic system is designed to clean, nourish, and protect the tissues and organs of the body by riding these areas of waste. Benefits of MLD are a reduction in inflammation and increase in healthy circulation. This massage can be helpful with skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, and acne which are often contraindications for alternative/traditional massage options.

Avoid this technique if not properly trained because the lymphatic system is a very delicate system and can be disrupted easily if not treated with care. This technique is not a quick fix, depending on the congestion of the client you may need multiple treatments for significant clearing results. Avoid any clearing if the client is in an infected or inflamed state.

CRYOTHERAPY: Cryotherapy is the placement of an intensely cold temperature on the skin that aids in restricting the blood vessels of the skin also causing the pores to temporarily contract. Handheld steel or glass globes are wonderful options to present cool or cryotherapy in your custom treatment massage. Cryotherapy can be used to reduce redness or heat in the skin after a peel, reduce puffiness under eyes or as a pore reducing ending to a service. Once the skin returns to its normal temperature your blood vessels dilate quickly providing a rush of fresh oxygen to the skin causing a dewy or flushed look to appear.

Benefits: Additional external benefits reported were fuller or plumper looking lips, clearer, or more taut skin.

Avoid resting the cooling globe in one place for too long as extreme cold may leave the skin slightly numb. Be mindful of the possibility of damage or discoloration. In some skin types, prolonged exposure to cold may leave clients vulnerable to temporary or permanent pigmentation.

ACUPRESSURE: This is a wonderful compliment to traditional massage techniques and offers an effective way to enhance vitality, by improving the condition of the skin’s tone, calming the nerves and strengthening the muscle fibers. Incorporating acupressure into your existing massage is simplistic as all you need to do is apply 5 seconds of pressure at each of the distinctive facial points starting at the chin and working your way up towards the forehead.      

Benefits: Acupressure recognizes the body’s natural ability to repair itself. It reduces tension held in the face and enables the body to relax and increase circulation while promoting wellness.

Avoid pressing on tender or sensitive areas of the face. Always start slow and be cautious when introducing new wellness methods to your clients.

Facial Cupping: this technique uses soft flexible suction cups to strategically create volume in the face. Cupping stimulates a fresh pull of energy invigorating skin fullness and filling in fine lines and wrinkles. Cupping allows us to get creative and customize the client’s look based on your focus. Start out focusing on the orbital area, eyes, nasolabial folds and shrinking lip lines as it can create an immediate impact with a firmer anti-gravity effect.

Benefits: Cupping pulls and plumps hollow skin and aids in reversing loss of volume. Cupping works synergically with massage methods designed to sculpt and smooth the skin creating the foundation for a holistic face lifting service.

Avoid letting the cup engage in one area too long as this could leave a bruise. Do not tug or pull the cup over the skin. Also avoid cupping over broken skin and capillaries.

With the limitless combinations of rejuvenating and restorative massage styles we can offer our clients, consider this: a standout facial massage can be an Aesthetician’s unique calling card as no two Aestheticians massage style will be identical, they are like snowflakes. Just beyond watching our client smile bright after a facial as they notice their undeniable glowing skin, they will also be feeling the uplifting effects of a clearer connection to themselves and the world around them.

This completely restorative experience is something that can only be delivered in person and is the union for the magic we as skin therapists possess. Your facial massage is an extension of you, your understanding of your client’s needs and of the passion or dedication you embody for your industry.