Skin ageing, like root canals and laundry, is one of those parts of life that is not ideal but inevitable. I’d be of the camp that votes for lifestyle changes, antioxidant protection and proven anti-ageing ingredients such as vitamin C, peptides and vitamin A. However, none of these address a major underlying factor of skin ageing - as in literally underlying - being muscle.
Underneath the dermis, the "living" layer of the skin that is the furthest down, you’ll find something known as the SMAS, or the superficial muscular aponeurotic system. This area of muscle is what is stretched and tightened in surgical procedures such as facelifts. Why? Well, as we age, our muscles decrease in mass. In terms of our skin, this means that it isn’t propped up as well as it was before, hence why we see skin sagging and drooping. The jawline, jowls, and neck are where we usually see this occurring first.
Even if we are on point with our skincare topicals, none of it can reach your muscles… Products can’t even reach your dermis, really. We work out the rest of our bodies but our face doesn’t get so much of a look in. In this respect, you need to get hands-on about keeping those facial muscles tight and toned. This is where facial massage and facial workout devices come in.
When we physically manipulate the muscles beneath our skin regularly, we increase the flow of blood and thus oxygen and nutrients going to our muscle tissue. What this means over time is tighter, more toned facial muscles. It’s not the exact same as when we work out our body and doesn’t have the same effects as, say, doing 20 ab crunches every day would have on your abs, but I personally see a difference.
How to facial massage
Facial massage isn’t difficult. The difficult part is finding a few minutes to do it every day. Just like working out your body, you need to do it frequently and regularly, so pop it in your bullet journal or put a sticky note on your mirror.
The first step is to wash your hands with antibacterial soap, cleanse your face and then lube up with a facial oil, slippy serum or a carrier oil like jojoba oil or coconut oil. This prevents tugging of the skin which can, in turn, cause mechanical ageing - we’re not a fan of this.
Then, it’s time to get massaging.
There are two main massage techniques that I use, in this order, when I’m doing facial massage:
Effleurage is smoothing and stroking techniques that work to warm up the muscle before you move on to the more intense, stimulating massage movements. For effleurage, we usually just use the flat length of our fingers and even the palm, just anything flat, and work outwards from the centre of the face towards the lymph nodes at the jaw and temple. Don’t forget your neck towards your collarbones!
The word "Petrissage" comes from the French "to knead" and that says a lot about the action itself. Petrissage is about pumping and squeezing the muscles and the motions essentially all entail using your pointer, middle and ring finger and your thumb to gently pinch, roll and knead the muscle. Start from your chin and move outwards along the jaw towards the ear, and continue this all the way up your face and down your neck.
You can add in other movements known as tapotement movements, which are very gentle flicking motions with the tips of your middle and ring finger. Quickly pull and release these fingertips against the face, towards the palm of your hand. It should sound like a butterfly flapping against you and nothing harder than that. It’s massage, not battery!
Why work out your face?
Massage is only one way to work out your face and get those muscles looking good. We’re seeing more and more home skincare technology that works by contracting and releasing facial muscles. These machines usually use something called faradic or EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) and are highly effective, but may set you back a few hundred euro. It’s essentially a facial Slendertone belt, and if you remember those, you should definitely be stimulating that muscle.
Any type of facial workout, whether it is a manual massage or using a home device, not only works the muscle but promotes lymphatic drainage and blood flow to reduce puffiness and boost radiance. Although it sounds like a lot of effort, taking those few minutes to rub your face whilst watching First Dates could actually make a world of difference.