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Facial Massage: More Than Relaxation

By: Danae Markland
Posted: March 30, 2012, from the April 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Massage, particularly facial massage, is one of the most pleasurable and intimate aspects of topical facial treatments; however, it is about more than just feeling good. When used correctly, massage can improve many skin conditions and your skin care facility’s bottom line. By identifying the best ways to use facial massage in a therapeutic manner; learning which skin issues benefit the most from massage; and discussing the many ways implementing results-focused massage techniques can increase revenue and repeat client visits, the skin care professional can better use this method of treatment on a daily basis.

Increasing the benefits of facial massage

Focusing less on specific massage techniques—such as effleurage, tapotement and friction—and more on light manipulations designed to increase blood flow and cellular oxygenation will allow for more deliberate and consistent treatment. Although the aforementioned techniques are effective and carry their own unique benefits, a facial massage does not have to be a 20-minute-long event in which multiple massage methods are used. By simply stroking the face using a beneficial massage medium, circulation is increased, stimulating a wound-healing response in the skin and providing a healthy glow to any complexion.

Massage mediums come in a variety of consistencies, such as creams, oils, lotions and gels and, while some provide beneficial ingredients to the skin, others do little more than provide slip during the massage process. This is another opportunity to increase treatment outcomes during massage. Product consistency should be selected based upon the individual client.

  • Clients with dry skin may benefit most from a cream or oil.
  • Acne clients may benefit most from a gel.
  • A variety of skin types benefit from a light lotion-like product that absorbs nicely without leaving a heavy residue.

Choosing a massage product that provides adequate slip, as well as key ingredients capable of improving skin health and function, adds another corrective element to any topical procedure. It is wise to select a product formulated specifically for facial use to avoid comedogenicity concerns. See Beneficial Topical Ingredients on for examples of topical agents that supply benefits and are appropriate for use during facial massage.

Inflamed skin conditions

Massage can greatly benefit acne, rosacea and other inflamed skin conditions. Acne is a wound to the skin, and increasing blood flow encourages the healing process. Many skin care professionals are taught to avoid massage with acne clients because of the risk of cross-contamination and overstimulation. Although this is a valid concern and many traditional massage techniques are not appropriate for acne sufferers, light manipulation for a short period of time increases blood flow, which brings oxygen to the skin, killing the anaerobic bacteria responsible for breakouts and providing significant improvement. Similar to acne, rosacea and other sensitive skin conditions involve chronic inflammation, which also benefits greatly from the enhanced circulation associated with massage. When dealing with acne and other inflamed conditions, limit massage time to no more than 10 minutes.

Visible aging and dull complexions

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