Give Yourself a Lymphatic Drainage Facial

It's easier than you think.

woman moisturizing face
Photo: Image Source/Getty Images

The upside of all our bad weather is that there's absolutely no shame in being a couch potato. And why not be a beautiful couch potato, while you're sipping tea and catching up on your shows? One of my favorite at-home facial techniques to do when I have the time is lymphatic drainage, a gentle massage that targets the lymph-nodes and drains toxins.

Lead aesthetician and massage therapist at Stowe Mountain Lodge Jennifer Findley adds that manual lymph drainage is one of the easiest, most effective ways to sculpt your jawline, remove puffiness from under the eyes, and support the health of your skin. "The lymph system consists of lymph nodes which are the filters, and lymph vessels, which resemble respiratory veins or arteries," she explains. But while the respiratory system has the heart as a pump to move fluid, lymph moves with muscle contractions, and facial muscles just don't contract that much doing the day.

If you can't swing a professional facial, but want to combat puffiness and infuse a little glow on the cheap, this facial massage can help you look better immediately. Here's how.

Defy Gravity

"The key concept is to massage upward, as it reduces swelling," explains New York City dermatologist and eponymous skincare brand founder Dr. Dennis Gross. "Like all circulation in the body, the lymphatic vessels drain toward gravity, which leads to swelling in the first place." He says that massaging upward will help improve the skin's radiance and over time, with consistency, create a more toned look to the face.

Apply Gentle Pressure

Our lymph system relies on normal, gentle contraction from our muscles during everyday activity, explains NYC dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner. Meaning ease up on applying too much pressure. "Heavy massage is not necessarily any better and can just lead to inflammation and swelling," he says. "The only pressure you really need is enough to gently move the skin."

Use a Serum

"You want to be sure you have ample slide over the skin, so massaging with a serum or moisturizer will reduce friction and pulling of the skin," says Dr. Gross. For a serum that provides a quick hit of moisture for winter-dessicated skin, we like Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster. For nighttime, try Caudalie Vinoperfect Overnight Renewal Cream for a soothing routine before bed.

Apply a top-down approach

Haven Spa aesthetician Stalina Glot says using the heel of both hands, and massaging in an upward motion, work your way from the top of the forehead down to the eyebrows, then to the temples and following the jawline. Then, go down through the sides of the neck while transitioning from using the heels of the hands to using the outer pinky side of the hands. Finish by going down the clavicle. She recommends that you do this routine five times.

Drain the area around the eyes to diminish dark circles and puffiness

Next, Glot says to take your thumbs and place them on the inner corner of the eyebrows and stretch outward toward the temples while dragging the thumbs. Repeat this five times. Then pinch the inner corner of the eyebrows, the middle of the eyebrows, and the outer corner of the eyebrows. Do this five times, as well. Starting from the outer corner of the under eye on the lower bone of the eye socket, roll the ring finger on the outer corner, the middle and then the inner corner. Repeat five times.

Address the jawline

Underneath the cheek bones, take the knuckle of your index fingers and make a "scoop" motion along the edge of the cheekbone five times, Glot says. Then using your thumbs, drag along the jawline starting at the center of the chin and moving them out toward the ears. Repeat five times.

Move it On Down

Finally, Glot says, using the hand opposite of the side of the face you are working on, take the palm of one hand and drag it from the center of the chin along the jawbone going toward the ear and then move down the side of the neck down to the side of the chest. Repeat this move five times on each side. Then, she says to repeat the above motion except this time, go down the side of the neck and across the chest going down through the center breast bone and repeat five times on each side.

The whole process takes about ten minutes, but it can make a visible difference. Think about how you look post-facial: part of it is the scrubs, the hydration, and the extractions (should your service include that) but the improved firmness, lack of sallowness and plumpness returned to the undereye area is the result of lymphatic drainage.

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