The Esthetician’s Hands

Sculpting Lift Massage Technique


One of the first lessons learned in an esthetician’s education is facial massage. The health of the skin is the foundation for beautiful skin. Massage helps to enhance blood circulation for nutrition and oxygenation. This is the main benefit of getting regular facials. An additional benefit of facial massage is helping to drain sitting fluid from the skin. However, unless you specifically work with the lymphatic system to open the lymph nodes, and help “guide” the fluid through the nodes, the maximum benefit of stimulating the lymphatic system is lost. Many in the medical spa/aesthetic space use lymphatic facial massage techniques specifically after a facial procedure.

The lymphatic system’s job, as part of our immune system,  is to remove toxins from the skin. Running parallel to the circulatory system, the lymphatic system does not have its own pump  with the heart. Therefore, we must help manually move the fluid through the system with gentle massage movements. When there is a wound in the skin, the lymphatic system will produce more fluid to try and flush any toxins out of the skin to help the skin heal quicker. However, to see the efficiency of this, we must help move the fluid through the system. This is why lymphatic drainage massage is so beneficial post face lift.

Each of us has a special healing touch and when combined with efficient massage movements, your client’s skin will be transformed.

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Lymphatic drainage has become a staple in European facial massage techniques. Europeans have known for a long time the benefits of lymphatic drainage massage. In the US, it has not been used or taught as widely as it is in Europe. However, before you get into promoting lymphatic massage, please check with your state board. Some state boards take exception with the word “lymphatic;” they think of it as a medical procedure. It is best to use other words to describe this process. One term is “Fluid Release Massage,” or FRM. When marketing this technique, I have given it the title of  “Sculpting Lift” facial procedure. I created this protocol after working with multiple European skin care companies over the years who have similar techniques.

When you combine fluid release massage (FRM) with compression movements, you will see an amazing way to not only cleanse the skin from the inside out, but literally sculpt the skin. When we guide the fluid through its natural course, the spaces in the skin tissue where the fluid was sitting now have a void that will fill back up with fluid especially if there is any inflammation in the skin (and we all have inflammation in our skin). By using compression movements immediately following the release of the fluid, we can accomplish much more. First, the void or gap in the skin is compressed back into the shape of the skin prior to fluid collection. Second, after the fluid has caused drag in the skin, the compression movements lift the skin. The result is healthy, clean, lifted skin tissue. The result is instantaneous!

Of course, the fluid will start to build again after about 24 hours, so to keep it from filling up again, it is important to teach the client how to maintain at home by applying their skin care products with these compression movements. In a spa I served as Director for, we utilized this method and completely changed how our guests looked at taking care of their skin. They came in more often, and they purchase more retail products to use with the technique. Now, I will share my technique with you.

Sculpting Lift Massage Technique

 To start, analyze the skin to test for fluid retention. You can do this by pressing your thumb to the skin. When you see white in the tissue below your thumb, that indicates an increase of fluid in that area. Most people hold fluid in either the jaw area (leads to jowls), under the eye (leads to puffy eyes), and under the cheekbones (leads to sagging). Here are the next steps:

  1. Cleanse skin as you usually would.
  2. Apply either micellar water or little slip of warm water.
  3. Start opening the lymphatic nodes, using an exceptionally light touch. Follow the flow of the lymphatic system in each area. (inform your client they may feel the sensation of postnasal drip.)
  4. Complete each movement three to five times, depending on how much fluid you identified during the skin analysis.
  5. Exfoliate with a product of your choice.

To compress the skin into a tighter shape:

  1. Apply a skin care product to the face (usually a serum, a treatment cream, or both).
  2. Begin compression movements with good amount of pressure and roll your hand as you move across the shape of the face.
  3. Repeat these movements at least four times in each area, but don’t be afraid to do up to 10 times in areas with increased fluid.
  4. When compression is finished, apply a mask. On top of the mask, apply wet 4x4s on the chin/neck and forehead/eyes, and create a nose hole to allow for breathing. Sculpt the 4x4s into the shape of the face.
  5. Repeat the compression movements over the wet 4x4s in a second set of compression movements.
  6. Once finished, treat your client to a neck and shoulder massage while the mask continues to absorb into the skin.


After the massage is finished,  remove the 4x4s. Use a wet cloth or towel to remove the mask, then follow with your preferred daytime products. Continue with compression movements as you apply these products.

Now, have your client sit up and look in a mirror so they can see the glow and lift in their skin. This is always the best part, when a client sees the difference in their skin and wants to know how to maintain it.

Teach your client home maintenance by taking their own hands and showing them how to do the compression/rolling movements on their own face. Be sure to recommend the specific products you want them to use with the technique.

Remember, the most valuable tool an esthetician has, by far, are their hands! Each of us has a special healing touch and when combined with efficient massage movements, your client’s skin will be transformed.