Facial massages are all over social media, from TikTok demonstrations to Instagram adverts, whether using a jade roller, a gua sha, or simply your fingers.
They offer lofty, enticing claims, such as improving blood circulation, decreasing puffiness and water retention by activating the lymphatic system, combating wrinkles and sagging skin, and even sculpting away double chins.
Dermatologists, on the other hand, are sceptical about the treatment’s effectiveness. “There aren’t many randomised control studies, which are the gold standard in scientific research,” says Dr. Cara McDonald, a specialist dermatologist in Victoria. Dr. Natasha Cook, a dermatologist in Sydney, is even more forthright, calling the benefits “fundamentally mythological.”
“Anything with a visual component will be hot on Instagram and TikTok. This isn’t to suggest they don’t work,” Cook explains.
“It’s a piece of entertainment, I believe that’s all it is. If you grasp the essence of aging, rolling or massaging does not correlate to repairing it, unless you consider it to be a glorified facial.
“Let’s face it, we’re all insecure as individuals, so anything that might help us feel less insecure is always tempting. The beauty industry, in particular, buys into that core fear.”
“Consumers should be aware of sales and marketing campaigns using influencers and social media accounts,” McDonald agrees. But, she admits, the gadgets are “relatively cheap” in the world of skincare trinkets, and massaging is simple, so she sees the appeal. People are always seeking for the next trendy approach to self-optimise, especially with the dominance of social media and self-comparison.
Even if facial massage doesn’t benefit the skin, as physiotherapist David O’Brian, a co-owner of Glebe Physio in Sydney, notes, it can be beneficial to the face muscles.
Massage is frequently utilized as part of a comprehensive therapy plan for temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) and its associated headaches, which may be “extremely painful and scary,” according to O’Brian.
“There are several muscles that connect your jaw to various sections of your skull and neck, and facial massage can help to lower the tone in those muscles so it can move again,” O’Brian explains.
“Normally, your physiotherapist will have you lying on your back with your head comfortably propped up on a pillow. They then apply moderate pressure with their fingertips or thumbs on the muscles they suspect are causing your pain.”
A good facial massage will usually provide “immediate relief” from jaw pain or headache. It’s “tough [but] conceivable” to try the technique at home, according to O’Brian.
“The masseter muscle and the temporalis muscle are the easiest muscles to work on. The masseter muscle can be found near the back of your cheeks, near your ears,” he says.
“The temporalis muscle covers a considerable piece of the side of your head and can be located in the front area of your temples. When you clench your jaw, both muscles may be felt bunching up beneath your fingertips.
“You can see roughly where these muscles reside on your skull and face if you Google them. Apply mild pressure throughout the muscles, and press into any sore regions you find.”