“A facialist taught me the art of facial massage over FaceTime – here’s everything I learned”

Facial massage will not only leave you with glowing skin, but it can help relieve the tension in a clenched jaw and furrowed brow. Stylist’s beauty director Shannon phoned a pro to show us how it’s done.

Right now, my skincare routine seems to be the only thing bringing me some semblance of reality. It’s how I segue between the morning and the start of (home) office-hours and later, it’s how I convince my mind and body that work is over and the evening has begun. 

But even more than that, I’ve found myself using my twice-daily sink time as a moment of calm amongst the chaos. No, patting a serum into my cheeks isn’t going to change this stark reality, but when you’re feeling a little stressed, a little slice of so-called self care can help on a personal level, even if just a little.

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One key way I’m using my skincare routine as a form of relaxation is through facial massage. I can feel tension building in my perma-frown and worry mounting in my clenched jaw, but boy does it feel good to work out any tight knots with my fingertips and knuckles.

However, when it comes to face massage, I’ll admit: I don’t really know what I’m doing. So I thought, why not ask an expert? I gave facialist Michaella Bolder a call via FaceTime, and asked her to walk me through seven easy facial massage moves we can all do from home.

“Facial massage reduces tension, boosts product efficacy, improves tone and texture of the skin, encourages circulation, and brings oxygen and nutrients to the surface of the skin,” explains Bolder.  

All you need to do is arm yourself with a facial oil, a rich moisturiser, or a cleanser with enough slip – “no expensive tools necessary” – and let Bolder show us both the ropes… 

1. Encourage lymphatic drainage in the neck


“Work with the opposite hand to the side of the neck. Press fingers up underneath the ear in that little node. It can feel quite painful and tight, as your neck muscles are constantly engaged. Massage right in there by circling the fingers six times.

“Then glide the fingers down the neck into the collarbone. Repeat that four times.

“Repeat the whole process on the other side. This stimulates the lymphatic system and makes sure it’s able to drain all the fluid that will be released by massaging the rest of the face.”

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2. Knead a tight chin


“Holding your fingers together, with medium pressure, pull the hands up the centre of the neck rolling them right under the chin.”

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3. Release a clenched jaw


“Place thumbs underneath the chin and the fingers on top, and press them together to put pressure on the muscle and start massaging the jaw.

“Start to work your hands up the jaw bone, pinching the jawbone as you go. When you reach the jaw joint, it might feel especially tight but hook the fingers into the muscle and massage in a circular motion six times. Then work your way back down the jaw towards the chin using the same technique.

“If you have long nails, use your knuckles instead, gripping the jaw bone between the knuckle of the index finger and middle finger.”

4. Plump up knotted cheekbones


“Take your index and middle fingers on both hands and place them either side of the outside corners of the nose. Press in and up to lift the muscle.

“Glide the fingers underneath the cheekbones and when you reach the apple of the cheek, turn the fingers to point towards the ears, and glide all the way up to where the bone finishes.

“Go back to the nose and repeat the process six to eight times.”

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5. Unfurl a tense brow bone


“Cupping your hands, place your index and middle fingers in between the brows. There’s a real pressure point here, where we hold a lot of tension, so you really want to press into this spot to release it.

“Then, move along the brow continuing to push the fingers upwards, lifting and stretching the brow muscle as you go. Afterwards, it should feel like your brows are a little higher than usual.”

6. Iron out a stressed forehead


“Place the thumbs on the temples and curl your fingers into the centre of the forehead.

“Slide the fingers of your right hand along the forehead away from the thumb to stretch out the skin. At the same time, pull the fingers of your left hand towards the left thumb. Move in this motion from left to right, repeating eight times.”

7. Complete the process


“To finish off, gently press the forehead, then down the temples, up behind the ears and down the neck, to again encourage lymphatic drainage.”

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Images: Michaella Bolder/Shannon Peter


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