In my first few years of interest in Korean beauty, I was naturally drawn in by the products and their presentation. Any woman that admires cuteness, elegance, or both would be, as Korea especially is terrific when it comes to beauty marketing.
Now, a few years into my skincare journey, I’m starting to become less and less worried about what I put on my face and more attentive to how I touch it.
When you get a facial there’s a ton of massage included, but if you don’t go get them, you likely never massage your face, right? I usually pat on skincare and rub a bit while my cleansing oil is on, but aside from that, I typically didn’t do a lot when it came to massage.
When I was first learning about the importance of facial massage in a routine, Charlotte Cho’s tutorial on how to give yourself a facial massage in Marie Claire was my primer. I tried it and I liked it a lot, but I think the most distinctive part for me was not how I looked afterwards, but how I felt.
The reason I felt so good is actually a combination of the therapeutic and the scientific. As I’ve spoken about on this blog before, devoting time to your face falls squarely in the realm of self-care, and even if you don’t intend to be using it for that purpose, it’s impossible not the reap the benefits of doing something loving for oneself. Now I would never skip massage!
But, the science —
So, you have lymph glands throughout your body, connected together by a smart little system of vessels. This lymphatic system works to transport dead cells, pathogens, toxins, and microscopic foreign particles out of your body. They are around the face and neck, as you will see in the diagram below.
So as you can see, these tiny little edamame beans (as I like to call them because that’s what this diagram makes me think of) are where those toxins and other yucky stuff end up. There’s a filtering process going on within each node. By applying gentle pressure (think of the weight of a quarter) along the pathways of this system, you’re aiding the process of clearing that waste away and enabling your skin to stay fresh. If toxins build up in this system, it can make your face look puffy and sallow, so massaging your face is of utmost importance. Here’s a handy little video on how to do that.
So does what you put on your face still matter? Sure. But you can slap all the anti-aging stuff you want on your face and it won’t make a bit of difference if your lymph nodes are struggling. In times of higher stress, or fighting a cold or the flu, this is an especially important practice that will contribute massively to your overall routine, as well as improve sagging skin. Remember that the lymph nodes are also in the armpits, and this is where all the junk from the head, face and neck end up, so don’t forget about them last. Just gently press your fingers into each armpit for a few seconds.
Lymphatic massage has many other benefits other than just to keep you looking youthful, but since this is a skincare blog, we’ll stick with that for now and not go crazy on the science. If you’re curious there’s tons of info out there on it via your friend Google! Now, will it take extra time in the morning and at night and make your routine longer? Yes, it undoubtedly will. So whether or not you wish to spend that time on yourself is up to you.
You should use a product for the lymphatic massage to help your fingers glide and avoid pulling the skin. What you use is up to you.For K-beauty fans, the Skin Food Grape Seed Oil Wrinkle Neck Cream 50g
is super cheap ($8.75) and an excellent way to get started. If you prefer something more anti-aging specific, Sephora has tons of stuff for the decollete (as the French call it). You can even use essential oils. I personally do not feel it’s necessary to purchase an expensive cream to do this, but that part is up to you, so do what makes you happy.
There’s also a great resource on massages to be found in Chizu Saeki’s book “The Japanese Skincare Revolution: How to Have the Most Beautiful Skin of Your Life–At Any Age,” which I talked about at great length in a previous post about the differences between Korean and Japanese skincare. Saeki’s method is by far the longest and most complex of any of the massage methods I’ve seen. Then again, she’s 72 and looks 50, so she might be worth listening to.
If you make massage a part of your skincare routine, I’d love to hear about what you do and why you believe it in!
[Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.]