Lymphatic Facial Massages Are Trending—Here’s What You Need to Know

Lymphatic Facial Massages Are Trending—Here’s What You Need to Know featured image
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Today’s spa menus are brimming with facial options, and among the most sought-after are lymphatic facial massages. Loved by celebrities and regular people alike, they’re hawked as a game-changing way to reduce inflammation and boost circulation—among other benefits.

We spoke with a celebrity aesthetician, a lymphatic drainage expert, and a board-certified dermatologist to dive deeper into lymphatic facial massages. Ahead, learn more about their potential benefits, how often you should get one, differences between an at-home versus a spa treatment, cost, and more.

What is lymphatic facial massage?

A lymphatic facial massage “uses gentle, rhythmic movements to stimulate the circulation of lymphatic fluid,” says celebrity aesthetician Tammy Fender. This isn’t your average facial; it incorporates specific massage techniques that promote lymphatic fluid movement across the face and neck, notes New York dermatologist Teresa Song, MD. “The lymphatic system eliminates wastes, toxins, and excess fluid from the body,” she continues. Manually draining the fluid can “enhance circulation, reduce swelling and puffiness, and promote a healthy complexion,” says Dr. Song.

How to do facial lymphatic drainage massage

At-home lymphatic drainage massage is possible. All you’ll need is a face oil and either your hands or a Gua Sha tool.

Start by washing your face. “Then, apply face oil or a gel moisturizer to help your tool glide on the skin smoothly,” says Dr. Song. “It’s important to lubricate the skin beforehand to avoid frictional trauma to the skin from the repetitive dragging motion of either your hands or the facial massage tools. This will help prevent irritation and damage to the skin.”

Applying a lubricant will give your skin more slip and thus, make it easier to conduct the massage movements. Dr. Song recommends an oil for non-acne-prone skin or a gel moisturizer for those with acne-prone skin or those opposed to oil.

To start the lymphatic facial massage, you need to stimulate lymph nodes in your neck, right below your ears with a soft pulsating touch,” says Hana Ivandic, founder and CEO of Kontura Wellness. It’s important you do this before working on your face because “all drainage moves towards these nodes,” adds Fender. Therefore, “you want to make sure that they are stimulated and open before attempting to move any excess lymph towards those areas,” she adds.

Next, gently press and massage your face using your hands or a jade roller, says Dr. Song. Start from the center of your face and move outward towards the edges, including along the jawline and neck. The expert recommends repeating the motion for five to 10 minutes.

How often should you do a lymphatic facial massage?

How often you do a lymphatic facial massage ultimately depends on personal preference. Dr. Song says you can give yourself a lymphatic facial massage as often as daily to “help improve lymphatic flow.” Since the results are temporary in that lymphatic fluid can build up again in the facial area, daily massages are perfectly safe. However, Fender notes that even performing a lymphatic facial massage one to three times a week can produce noticeable results.

Differences between at-home vs. spa treatment

Similar to how you might treat yourself to a professional facial instead of a DIY one, a professional lymphatic facial massage is essentially the leveled-up version. “While it’s beneficial to incorporate gentle facial massage and light lymphatic drainage into your self-care routine, receiving a manual lymphatic drainage treatment from a certified spa practitioner makes all the difference,” says Fender. “In other words, while almost anyone can give your shoulders a good squeeze and release the muscle tension, to be really effective at lymphatic drainage requires a physiological understanding of the lymph channels and training in the correct pressure and a proper sequence of maneuvers that optimizes drainage flow.”

How much does a lymphatic facial massage cost?

The cost of lymphatic facial massage varies greatly depending on your location, but it’s an investment across the board. A 25-minute facial at Angela Guerra Skincare, a New York City-based clinic specializing in lymphatic drainage, will set you back $140, whereas a 20-minute session at Lympha Flow in Los Angeles will cost you $80. Remember: “A lymphatic facial massage can cost virtually nothing at home with an affordable roller tool for long-term use,” says Dr. Song, who confirms that “spa treatment prices vary.”

Who is it right for?

“Lymphatic facial massage is suitable for all skin types to help relax the tension in the area and decongest the skin,” says Dr. Song. But it’s also sometimes recommended to help speed up recovery post-surgery. Per Fender, it can help “reduce inflammation and swelling, thus facilitating quicker recovery.” This is precisely why so many spas promote lymphatic facials as a treatment for those recovering from surgical procedures.

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