There are two types of skin care enthusiasts: Those who swear by facial massage tools like jade rollers and gua sha crystals, and those who don’t think they make a difference. If you fall into the latter camp, prepare to have your mind blown. There's a reason you’re not getting the results you want from your facial massage: According to experts, jade rolling around your chin and neck is the key to the best benefits of the tool — and the science behind it is fascinating.
No matter what technique you prefer — jade rolling, gua sha, kansa massage, or just using your hands — the goal of facial massage is always the same: lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system is basically the body’s detox center; it collects excess fluids and toxins from the body and ushers them out through the excretory organs (like the kidneys, liver, and bladder). Often, especially in the face, this lymph fluid becomes stagnant and builds up. Facial massage techniques aid in elimination, making the cheekbones and jawline look more sculpted… but apparently, it won't do a thing if you don’t continue the massage down your neck. “The lymphatics are a drainage network which drains downwards, away from the head,” Dr. Audrey Kunin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of DERMAdoctor, tells TZR. “Completing the process down the neck provides a more effective drainage.”
The reason has to do with the lymph nodes in your neck area. “We have many lymph nodes under the jaw and around the ears, and the neck is essentially a superhighway from the head into the body,” Jill Munson, co-founder of gua sha company Wildling, tells TZR. “The collarbone area is the ‘master drain’ where lymphatic congestion from the face and head enters the blood system.” From there, it circulates through the body and ends up in the kidneys, where it’s filtered and disposed of. Using a gua sha on this area helps drain any congestion around your chin and jaw.
“Think of your neck as a funnel,” Angela Peck, facial massage expert and founder of Wholistic Skin + Care, tells TZR. “If the small tunnel part of the funnel is blocked, nothing can get through.” In effect, the cellular waste stays put in your face, or very slowly drains, depending on how congested your lymph nodes are. “This greatly exacerbates (or even causes) acne, puffiness in the face and around the eyes, dull skin, dryness, and reactive skin,” Peck says. Munson adds that conditions of hyperpigmentation are associated with an unclear lymphatic system, as well.
“Many bloggers or influencers showing how to use the roller miss this important step, which gets the best results of the face roller or facial tool,” Angela Caglia, a Los Angeles-based aesthetician, says in an email to TZR — so, side note, make sure you’re only watching YouTube tutorials from trusted professionals. Luckily, neck drainage is probably the easiest facial massage technique to master. “You don’t need to press hard with the roller,” Caglia explains. “You are just gently moving the fluid retention downward so it has a place to go.” Simply roll or scrape (depending on the tool you’re using) up and down either side of your neck a few times in a row, starting at the side of the jaw and ending at the collarbone. Without this, “the treatment will not be anywhere as effective,” Peck says.
In fact, this step is so important to the overall effect of jade rolling and gua sha that Peck maintains a solo neck massage is better than a solo face massage. “If you only have time to do your face or neck, always choose your neck,” the aesthetician says. “I see this in treatment all of the time — just by working on my clients’ neck, their whole face becomes less puffy, and it brightens and glows more.”
Give it a shot, jade roller skeptics — you’ll be sculpted and singing the praises of facial massage in no time.
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