The Buccal Massage Is Trending—Experts Say It Can “Change Your Face”

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Buccal this, buccal that, we’ve heard the term buccal more times in the past year than our entire life combined. If you don’t know, the buccal relates to the mouth, mainly the cheeks. Buccal fat removal has been trending, with many celebrities swapping their natural fat pads for hollowed-out cheeks. A more simple and temporary solution is the buccal massage. Not only does the buccal massage feel amazing, but it can also transform your face, get you glowing and even help with jaw pain.

What is a buccal massage?

“Buccal massage, also known as the intra-oral facial, is an intricate type of facial treatment that offers another way to sculpt, contour and define the facial features without the use of any technology,” explains celebrity and in-house facialist at The Spa at Casa Cipriani Samantha Susca. It’s unique in that “it requires maneuvers that manipulate the muscles and deeper structures of the face from inside the mouth,” while most facials work from the outside. This technique “allows for a deeper reach to release muscle tension and fluid retention of the face,” says Susca. The practice is a natural approach to facial rejuvenation, adds aesthetician and founder of Inderma Studio Nichelle Temple.

The beauty benefits of a buccal massage

Temple says a well-done buccal massage “truly does change your face.” Susca feels the biggest benefit of a buccal massage is “the freshly sculpted contour from the release of muscle tension.” It also promotes oxygenation through a boost in blood flow to internal tissues, resulting in a lit-from-within glow, says Susca.

Lymphatic drainage and muscle tension release create space between the muscle, the skin and the remaining structures for toxins and stagnant fluids to flush outward and oxygen and cellular nutrition upward to the skin,” explains Susca. Following a buccal massage, you’ll notice the face appears more symmetrical and brighter, she adds. Other benefits include improved muscle tone, enhanced appearance of the “oval line” of the face, de-puffing and an overall more youthful appearance, says Temple.

“Like all things beauty, individual results will vary. Depending on your long-term goals, this is a beautiful non-invasive way to slow down the signs of aging,” says Temple. “Some people enjoy this once a month—others like to come weekly to build on the results then move into scheduling maintenance sessions.”

The wellness benefits of a buccal massage

There are also well-being and health benefits to the buccal massage, including relaxation and tension release, notes Temple. “Buccal massage is very beneficial for people that suffer jaw tension and headaches mostly due to stress,” says celebrity aesthetician Nerida Joy. “This specific type of massage releases tightness and tension, improves circulation and blood flow, promoting relaxation and healing to the surrounding tissues of the mouth.” She recommends this technique to anyone suffering from jaw tightness or headaches.

What happens during a buccal massage?

We know it’s a massage that focuses on the inside of the mouth, but how? “This facial is a true sculpting workout for every muscle in the face,” says Susca. She notes that the protocol may vary based on practitioners. “I begin by cleansing the skin and working the muscles of the face, neck and chest externally, in the direction of the lymphatic system,” she says. Once that first layer of muscle tension is worked away she switches gloves and begins at each corner of the mouth. “I enter the client’s mouth at the chin beneath the bottom lip at the mentalis muscle. It’s a little more shallow and less sensitive of an area as opposed to the cheek and offers a more gentle introduction to my hands,” she explains.

“From inside the center of the chin, I work both hands to one side of the face where I work the tension from the inside on one full side of the face before moving to the other side,” says Susca. Temple usually anchors the index fingers between the gums and upper lip “to tighten nasolabial folds and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Then anchors thumbs at the hinge of the jaw, sculpting along the jawline, cheekbones and kneading the masseter muscle to release tension and reduce puffiness.”

Susca says this slower, deeper work tends to focus on tension in the jaw, mostly the masseter, cheeks, temples and around the mouth. The orbicularis oris and buccinator muscles are also worked out during this facial, she adds. Once the internal portion is complete, Susca removes her gloves, cleanses the skin again and finishes with an external lymphatic drainage massage.

Who should we get a buccal massage from?

Although there are plenty of DIY videos online, Temple suggests only seeking a professional who has studied facial anatomy, “whether a licensed massage therapist or an esthetician certified in the technique,” says Temple. “Buccal massage is definitely a specialty. Anyone seeking this type of therapeutic massage should see a specialist,” warns Joy.

While Susca often recommends her clients massage their faces while applying skincare, she advises against trying a buccal massage on your own. “Not only is the skin an extremely complex organ to begin with, but the structures of the face beneath the skin are very intricate and require a deep knowledge and understanding of facial anatomy and the lymphatic system,” says Susca. “An expert in buccal massage should always be sought for this treatment to avoid the risk of causing internal, external or lymph node damage.”

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