skin health

6 Powerful Benefits of Massage for Skin Health

6 Powerful Benefits of Massage for Skin Health

As the largest organ in your body, your skin carries out many roles. Its three layers help shield your body from the harms of everyday life — like physical damage, heat and cold, and hazardous substances — all while cushioning your muscles and bones. 

If you’ve been looking for more ways to nourish your skin, you might’ve heard that massage therapy can help. Massage has been celebrated for its ability to do everything from reducing puffiness to improving skin texture, but what does the research say about massage for skin health?

Below, we’ll dive into the main ways massage can support your skin, along with a few tips to help you get started.

6 Benefits of Massage for Skin Health

Here are six ways that regular facial and body massage can support the complex layers of your skin:

1. Supports Skin Blood Flow

Friction, pressure, and gentle sweeping motions across the skin can stimulate pressure receptors and increase the temperature of your muscle tissue. As a result, it can help dilate the blood vessels and encourage more nutrients, oxygen, and fresh blood flow in the skin. 

In a small 2018 study, researchers looked at the effects of a 5-minute facial roller massage on skin blood flow. The results showed that it led to a short-term boost in skin blood flow for up to 10 minutes after the massage.

Beyond supporting your skin on a deep level, healthy blood flow can also help your skin:

  • Exhibit a short-term improvement in plumpness and texture
  • Feel more moisturized 
  • Have a healthier, brighter glow thanks to the increased blood and oxygen

2. Works Synergistically With Your Skincare Products

Did you know that massage could work in tandem with some of your favorite skincare products?

In a 2017 study, researchers looked at how facial massage could impact the results of an anti-aging lotion. The participants were split into two groups: one using the cream with an oscillating facial massage tool, and the other using the cream alone. 

Remarkably, they found that the facial massage seemed to increase anti-aging skin benefits compared to using the cream by itself.

3. Lymphatic Drainage

Your lymphatic system is made of about 600 lymph nodes that help your body manage fluid, toxins, and other waste products. When your lymph system is backed up, it can sometimes appear as swelling or puffiness due to excess lymph fluid. 

Fortunately, certain massage techniques — like lymphatic drainage massage — can encourage the healthy flow of lymph fluid. In turn, it could result in less puffiness and a healthier overall glow.

4. Stress Relief

When it comes to protecting your skin, stress is one big factor that we often forget about.

No matter your lifestyle or age, you probably know what it’s like to be under a significant amount of stress. Unfortunately, elevated cortisol levels — especially in the long term — can take a toll on your skin. According to Harvard Health Publishing, chronic stress can impact your skin by:

  • Disrupting the top layer of your skin, also called the epidermal barrier
  • Slowing down your skin’s ability to repair and heal
  • Contributing to flare-ups in conditions like eczema and acne

The good news is that self-massage is an easy, natural way to combat stress. When used as a daily self-care tool, it can help provide a sense of well-being, and even temporarily soothe some measurable signs of stress — like blood pressure and perceived anxiety levels.

5. Reduces Muscle Tension

A good massage can ease muscle tension that may be contributing to wrinkles, like furrowing your brow or pursing your lips in a frown. It can also help soothe pain and discomfort from tight jaw muscles or tension headaches, which may be worsened by stress-induced muscle tension.

6. Better Sleep for Skin Regeneration

Have you ever noticed that your skin doesn’t feel as plump or bright after a poor night’s sleep? Turns out there’s a good reason for this. When it comes to skin health, sleep is an essential time for repair and regeneration. And according to past research, lack of sleep can contribute to loss of transdermal moisture and elasticity, and even impact the health of your skin’s barrier.

Luckily, massage’s ability to calm the body also makes it an excellent sleep aid. A quick self-body massage with your hands (or the help of a partner) can make for an excellent nighttime ritual. However, you can also try a facial massage with some of your favorite nighttime skincare products to relax, unwind, and reap a healthier glow in the morning.

Types of Facial Massage

When thinking about massage for skin health, facial massage is likely the first option that comes to mind. There are several techniques and types of facial massage you can try, including:

Gua Sha

Thanks to social media, gua shas have boomed in popularity over the past few years. These smooth, contoured stone tools originate from ancient China, and are still commonly used throughout Asia and Eastern European countries. 

Lately, they’ve become a loved facial massage tool for people around the world, including in the West. While more research is needed on the benefits of gua shas, people often use them for:

  • Depuffing and debloating
  • Improving the absorption of skincare products
  • Relaxing facial muscle tension

Swedish

Swedish facial massage uses similar techniques as Swedish body massage, which involves long, light, gliding strokes. Typically, a massage therapist will start with a drop of oil to help reduce friction before starting the massage.

From there, they may move into light, sweeping, or circular motions with their fingertips to warm up the muscles. They’ll then use more focused pressure on areas that tend to carry the most tension, like the jaw and forehead.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

A lymphatic drainage facial massage focuses on improving the flow of lymph fluid around your face and neck. This type of massage can be helpful for those dealing with swelling or lymphedema, which can sometimes result from medical treatments and health conditions.

In these cases, a certified lymphedema specialist will use light, circular techniques throughout the collarbone, neck, and facial area to promote lymph flow and overall health.

Sinus Massage

Sinus massage uses a light touch to combat pressure and congestion from colds or allergies. It focuses on specific pressure points to help drain the sinuses, including the frontal sinus points (just above the eyebrows) and maxillary sinus pressure points (on either side of the nose).

Sinus massage techniques include sweeping motions or light, sustained pressure on these points, which can help drain fluids and ease congestion.

How To Try Facial Massage: Step-by-Step

With all the benefits of massage for skin health in mind, how can you try it for yourself? If your main focus is facial skin, the good news is that this is one of the easiest areas to self-massage at home. Plus, it’s entirely customizable based on your skin concerns and pressure preferences. 

Generally, here are the steps to trying a facial massage:

  • Cleanse your face. This helps ensure you won’t press any toxins, dirt, or dust deeper into your pores during the massage.
  • Apply a few drops of your favorite facial oil or lotion to your skin.
  • Using clean fingertips, begin to massage your face in large, sweeping motions. Start at the center and move outward.
  • Spend one minute focusing on your forehead, using circular motions and sweeping outward toward the temples.
  • Use light pressure to massage around the eyes, being careful not to stretch or pull on the delicate skin.
  • Continue the massage along your cheeks for one minute. Repeat with your jaw.
  • Finally, use your palms to massage in downward sweeping motions along the back and sides of the neck.

Massage’s Skin Benefits Go Beyond the Face

Massage’s skin benefits aren’t just for the face; in fact, you can use massage throughout your body to soothe and rejuvenate your skin. For example, many people enjoy massaging the upper legs, glutes, or calves to support healthy, supple skin and overall muscle health.

Like facial massage, there are a variety of tools and techniques that you can use to reap the benefits of body massage for healthy skin. Three easy options include:

Foam Rollers for Self-Myofascial Release

When it comes to skin and muscle health, foam rolling is a simple yet effective tool to add to your regimen. Unlike classic massage, it involves using your body weight and the power of gravity to slowly roll out your muscles.

Foam rollers can have smooth or textured surfaces, and they come in various sizes to help target different muscle groups. They involve a type of massage called myofascial release, which works on various layers of muscles and fascia — aka the web-like connective tissue that sits between all of your muscles and organs.

Vibration and Oscillation Massage

Vibration and oscillation massage tools can be a great way to stimulate your skin at home or on the go. The oscillating motions warm up your muscles and support the look of healthy skin, all while bringing extra health benefits — like relaxation, feel-good endorphins, and soreness relief.

If you want to try this type of massage, it can help to pick up a tool like the MedMassager Body Massager Plus. This device uses soothing, oscillating motions to bring the benefits of massage to your home. You can use one by following a few simple steps:

  • Start the device to a light-pressure setting. 
  • For 60 seconds, allow the massage surface to gently work into your target muscle group. (This helps warm up your muscles to prepare them for deeper intensity.)
  • Increase the massage pressure to your desired level.
  • Relax and let the oscillating motions work their magic for 5–15 minutes.

Hands-On Foot Massage

Feet can often be a hotspot for dry, dehydrated, or even cracked skin. But if you want to support blood flow and bring a healthy glow back into your feet, a simple 5-minute massage can help. (In fact, massage’s skin-boosting benefits are why pedicurists often provide a lower leg and foot rub as part of their services.)

To get started:

  • Apply a moderate amount of your favorite oil or lotion to the foot.
  • Use both hands to apply broad, kneading motions to the foot for one minute.
  • Then, use both thumbs to massage in long, sweeping motions up the arch of the foot. Repeat for 1–2 minutes.
  • Optionally, you can spend another minute using moderate pressure and small, circular motions to work on the heel.
  • Finally, spend a few seconds kneading each of the toes between your index finger and thumb.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Massage for Skin Health

Whether you’re focused on the facial benefits of massage or want to support your skin in other areas, here are some tips to help you maximize massage’s skin-boosting benefits:

  • Combine it with a nourishing oil or lotion. As mentioned earlier, one study previously found that massage pairs well with skincare products, and it may even enhance their results.
  • Use massage regularly. A single massage likely won’t change your skin health or appearance for the long haul. Routine massage, on the other hand, can help you regularly promote blood flow, reduce tension, and curb the impact that stress has on your skin.
  • Ask a professional for personalized tips. If you have questions about specific techniques, like lymphatic drainage massage, it’s best to talk to a certified massage therapist, dermatologist, or lymphedema specialist for tips. 

Massage Precautions and Safety Tips

Because massage involves applying pressure to your muscles, tendons, and other soft tissue, it’s essential to be informed about the risks before starting.

Thankfully, massage is generally safe, and for most people, it doesn’t pose many risks. However, it’s important to check with a doctor before trying body or facial massage if:

  • You have any active skin conditions, like psoriasis, dermatitis, or eczema
  • You have current injuries, like a muscle strain, broken bone, or painful bruise
  • You have any medical conditions affecting the bones, muscles, or organs, like cancer, kidney conditions, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, etc.
  • You have a history of blood clots 

Other Ways To Support Your Skin Health

Massage is a powerful addition to any skincare toolbox. But to help support your glow long-term, here are a few other steps that can make a big difference:

Focus on Internal Skin Health

Nourishing your body from within means giving your skin the resources it needs to stay healthy. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can support collagen production, skin repair, and overall skin health:

  • Stay hydrated to help moisturize your skin from within.
  • Prioritize sleep to improve skin repair and regeneration on a daily basis.
  • Keep your stress in check to support a healthy skin barrier.
  • Cut back on toxic substances like alcohol and tobacco.
  • Eat more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to help protect your skin from free radical damage.

Add Movement To Your Day

Regular exercise is a great way to improve circulation throughout your body, and these benefits extend to your skin. Better blood flow not only gives you that familiar post-exercise glow, but it also increases the nutrients and oxygen available to your skin cells.

On top of that, exercise is a great tool for managing stress and improving sleep, both of which are essential to healthy, radiant skin.

Visit a Dermatologist for Specific Skin Concerns

If you have specific skin concerns — like acne, eczema, psoriasis, or another condition — it can be helpful to schedule a visit with a dermatologist.

As experts in skincare and skin conditions, dermatologists can help you choose treatments and products that best serve your goals and concerns. A bonus is that they can give you expert-level tips on how to try massage safely and effectively, based on your unique skin health.

The Takeaway 

Whether you’re focused on your face or other areas of your body, massage can bring a wide array of benefits to your skin. It can temporarily boost circulation, nutrients, and oxygen to your skin cells, while helping to reduce muscle tension and ease puffiness. It’s also a powerful relaxation tool — meaning it can curb stress and support healthy sleep for better skin repair.

To get started with massage for skin health, you can use hands-on massage with your favorite oil or lotion, or visit a specialist for specific services, like lymphatic drainage massage. And if you’d like to elevate your home massage routine, you can invest in restorative, trusted tools like those from MedMassager.

Pick up the MedMassager Body Massager Plus today, or see the full range of soothing tools here.

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