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October 21, 2019

The Argument for Why You Should Rub Your Face

Can a regular facial massage really make a difference in your skin? One skincare aficionado totally thinks you need to give it a try. Here’s why.


Of all the things that I learned I was doing “wrong” when I first got in to skincare, mashing my face into a towel after a shower was one of them. Looking back on to how I used to dry my face, it seems like it should have actually been painful. But then again, this was usually right after I finished sanding down my skin with apricot shells, so I don’t think my face could feel much of anything at that point.


I’ve found that people do tend to be in the “rub my face vigorously” camp or the “I’m too scared to touch my face” camp when it comes to how delicately, or indelicately, they treat their face. I literally met someone that used separated tissues to dry their face after cleansing because they were convinced that even dabbing with a towel would cause wrinkles and break them out. It’s not that serious, y’all.


Like most things, I find myself somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I do think that rubbing your face vigorously with a towel or even using vibrating cleansing brushes is too much stress on your skin. However, I think when we’re talking about facial massage, that’s a whole separate thing that I encourage highly for everyone to try incorporating because the benefits can be amazing. I know a lot of us barely get massages for our bodies that are actively working and probably in some degree of discomfort, so massaging one’s face could seem like a totally unneeded luxury, but hear me out.


facial massage



Why facial massage?


I follow a host of estheticians online and am super lucky that they speak so in-depth about how they treat their clientele, which often includes actors, musicians, and models. When they talk about how they help this elite group of people (I say “elite” in this context because it’s literally part of their job to look their best), I noticed that there was one common thread: facial massage.


I don’t know that there’s really a wealth of scientific data supporting face massage as a skincare technique, but I always say that anecdotal evidence can be just as good as scientific research in cases like this where it’s really not life and death, especially when it comes from someone who works with skin for a living. If it’s good enough for J. Lo’s face, then it’s good enough for me. So I went ahead and tried incorporating facial massage in different ways in my skincare routine, and y’all — I was shocked.


I don’t know what I was expecting to see, to be honest. The supposed benefits of facial massage were a list of things that seemed to include, well, a little bit of everything: brighter skin, smoother skin, firmer skin, anything a company might slap on a box to sell a moisturizer. So I took a cleansing oil and went to town on my face for about five-ish minutes while I was watching a YouTube video, and when I rinsed it off, I really was genuinely surprised that all of those things seemed true. Some patches of hyperpigmentation seemed lighter, my pores looked smaller, and the texture of my skin was incredibly smooth. It was a situation where I literally kept walking around my house afterwards running my fingers across my face and trying to get my SO to touch my face as well, repeating over and over, “my face is so sooooffttttt.”


nighttime cleansing
istock/Nattakorn Maneerat



How does facial massage work?


The way it has been explained to me is that the act of massaging the skin like this helps encourage blood flow, which in turn delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the skin, as well as working out any tension in your facial muscles. It’s like you’re helping reinforce the actual structure of your skin, which results in brighter, bouncier, smoother skin. Like I said, I don’t know that there’s really any scientific studies to back this up, but I can also say that I am totally sold on this practice and have permanently incorporated it into my routine.



So how do you massage your face?


As far as how I go about doing the actual massage, there’s no exact science behind that either. It’s hard to describe via text, and I was considering making little diagrams to include here, but honestly, I think it’s easier to watch people with a lot of experience doing this type of thing work on their clients. (Nerida Joy is a fantastic esthetician to watch do this type of facial massage.)





I also watched a lot of YouTube tutorials on lymphatic and Asian facial massage practices to develop my own “technique” and went with what felt the best to me. For example, I don’t do a lot of pressure point work because I don’t find it relaxes me at all, but I do go pretty intensely with my knuckles into my jaw muscles to tackle my ever-present tension from clenching my teeth in my sleep.


I also feel that this is a good time for you to personally pay attention to how your skin is that day. Any areas I find feel bumpy from congestion or I know is getting some hyperpigmentation from a breakout get a little extra massage to help smooth and even things out. The only must is that you use an adequate amount of cleansing oil or balm to keep your hands gliding comfortably across your face and to not go too hard. This should be relaxing like a Swedish massage. Do not do the equivalent of sports massage therapy on your face. It doesn’t deserve that type of stress lol.


I’ve found the easiest time to massage my face is when I’m going in with my first cleanse, which is always a cleansing oil or balm. This happens on an almost daily basis, and I spent a good minute or two massaging my face while I’m doing my first cleanse. I don’t necessarily do more than that because I have another cleanse coming, and I also don’t want to rub sunscreen/makeup and dirt/excess oil around my face for several minutes on end, but I think taking this extra massage time really helps thoroughly cleanse my face and honestly has helped make my skin feel extra smooth and soft.


morning cleanse facial massage


On weekends, I usually take some time in the mornings to do an extended massage session as my cleanse. At first, just thinking about the idea of massaging my face for five minutes made my arms hurt, but there are times now where I get totally carried away and go for 10 or 15 minutes at a time just gliding my fingers around my face. This is also when I try to get a little fancy and try out some lymphatic drainage movements, and as gross as it sounds, I can totally feel unidentified stuff trickling down my throat. I know, TMI, but you have to try it out and experience it for yourself. It’s one of those gross/fascinating things, and I do feel like my sinuses are clearer, any morning puffiness is gone, my jaw feels relaxed, and I just feel better after a massage. I think that’s definitely worth 10 minutes.


As with anything new, go slow and don’t get too crazy, but I would highly advise you take some time this weekend to give facial massage a shot. It might feel weird sitting in front of your computer with a face covered in oil following along to a massage, but once you get a feel for the whole process, I think a lot of you will definitely notice a change for the better in both your complexion and mood.


Do you incorporate facial massage into your routine? Do you think it’s made a difference? Let me know in the comments!



Born in Korea and raised in Washington, Leo is another 20-something member of the K-Beauty Squad that is as committed to his love of skincare as he is to wine and cheese covered snack foods. After working as an educator and trainer in the beauty industry, he joined the team at Beautytap to continue sharing his knowledge and passion for skincare and all things chok-chok. During his free time, he’s been spotted in the wild bingeing Netflix shows, blasting K-pop while playing video games, or (much more rarely) leaving his hovel to venture forth in search of cocktails and Korean BBQ.




Massaging my face is my favorite part of my routine! It allows me relax, enjoy the whole experience and I feel my skin absorbs the products more effectively. I also love to incorporate tools when I do my massages. These type of techniques require discipline, doing them on a regular basis will ensure amazing results!


Yesss I love massaging my face for a minute with my cleansing oil! I live somewhere pretty dusty and polluted so I feel like it helps get a lot of crap out of my skin. I also gua sha at night, I don't know if I'm sold on the anti-aging benefits of it but it just feels so good. Nothing beats a trained esthetician facial massage though, so relaxing!


Omg, when my facialist goes to town on my face with her oil massage, I just want to melt. It's the main reason I go to her — I'm convinced the de-stressing effects do more for my skin than any mask or serum she could put on me.