The beauty world is constantly evolving. We’re introduced to new products and techniques practically everyday—many promising to be the next life-changing solution to our beauty woes. But with all of the options out there, it can be hard to separate the gems from the duds. So, the more I heard about the impressive benefits of facial massage, the more I had to look into it.
That’s why I’m so grateful for our incredible Beauty Editor, Danielle Shine! Not only is she super smart and well-versed on all things beauty and skincare—she’s also studying nutrition, which means she really understands the science behind how we take care of ourselves.
So needless to say, the first time I saw Danielle rolling a wacky little device all over her face on Instagram, I couldn’t wait to ask her to write about it. And as usual, she’s totally outdone herself. She became a facial massage detective—uncovering the most effective techniques and tools, plus the types of benefits you can expect to see. Keep reading to find out which facial massage method meets your skincare needs.
Take it away, Danielle!
3 Must-Have Facial Massage Tools and Techniques
by Beauty Editor Danielle Shine
For the last 6 months I’ve been trialing facial massage tools and techniques in a bid to better understand how they work and what benefits they promote.
Happily, I’ve discovered you can totally do it at home for a LOT less—here’s what I found after throwing myself head-first (pun intended) into the fantastic field of facial massage…
It all began with Mae, my Chinese next-door neighbor. I was 15, she was 35, but looked a lot younger. Her skin looked like porcelain—so clean, clear and radiant.
Most days after school, I’d drop in to say “hi” to Mae. I didn’t realize at the time, but she’d save her beauty routine for when I was there—it became our thing. I’d perch on the toilet seat in her bathroom chatting away while Mae performed her curious facial massage routine with a flat, green stone she called “jade.”
She’d swipe it across specific sections of her face, finishing up by slapping and pinching areas around her chin, cheeks and forehead—it was the funniest thing to watch! Little did I know this routine would eventually become one of hottest facial massage trends across the globe: gua sha.
How does gua sha work?
Gua sha (pronounced “gwa sha”) is a traditional non-needle healing technique involving pressure-based strokes performed all over the body with a flat-edged instrument to intentionally raise petechiae, which are tiny red or purple spots under the skin caused by minor bleeding from broken capillaries.
Sounds brutal, but scientific research supports gua sha’s many benefits, the main one being improved blood and Qi (energy) flow to body tissues. When blood flows efficiently throughout the body, circulation is improved and lymphatic fluid moves more optimally to promote faster, more effective regeneration, protection and repair of cells.
When it comes to gua sha facial massage, it’s important to note that you must apply fairly light pressure to avoid bruising or permanently damaging the many more delicate capillaries beneath your skin. When performed gently and correctly, gua sha facial massage helps:
- Lift sagging skin around eyes, jawline and neck
- Reduce or eliminate puffiness (pockets of fluid under skin)
- Minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles
- Reduce recurrence of inflammatory symptoms like pimples (especially when paired with a diet filled with real, fresh food!)
- Brighten complexion
Is gua sha worth my money?
Yes. Especially compared to the oh-so-hot-right-now jade rollers, which work nicely to cool and soothe the skin, but don’t affect the same blood and lymph flow or tension-release, gua sha facial massage can.
Interested? Start by with something like this and incorporate gua sha during your morning or nighttime routine with a little facial oil. Despite what some say, there’s really no one way to use gua sha. I have met some of the best Chinese Medicine facialists in the world and each time they demonstrate a different style or technique.
The main safety bits you need to know: Be gentle and avoid your delicate eye area entirely, (the super-soft part of your eye sockets). Oh! And safeguard your thyroid by never ever using gua sha over the top of your throat.
My favorite technique is one that shifts and drains fluid first thing in the morning—it’s great for de-puffing. Always use the flat edge of your tool and stroke upwards in a light sweeping motion using the graphic below as a guide. Three to five times for each stroke is all you need. As you become more confident and figure out what type of pressure works for you, you should see a little red flush appear after the third or fourth stroke. As long as there is no pain, you’re doing it correctly. I do this daily just before brushing my teeth, but make it work for you!
Handheld Facial Massage Rollers
After MUCH trial and research, it’s safe to say I’m now addicted to handheld facial massage tools. It’s become a daily thing for me—well, more like a several-times-a-day thing because it’s feels so good! I use it during university lectures, Skype conversations, when I’m on the toilet (don’t knock it ‘til you try it!) and I’ve even been known to whip it out my after dinner. You’ll come to understand all of this once you try it for yourself. In fact, I challenge you NOT to enjoy this terrific treat!
How do facial massage rollers work?
Pretty simple really: With one hand, apply moderate pressure as you roll the tool over the main areas of your face, avoiding your eye area. Think: cheeks, chin, jawline and forehead. You can also massage the sides of your neck, but never ever over your throat where your thyroid lives—this advice stands for any kind of massage tool or technique.
When used correctly, facial massage rollers can:
- Stimulate facial circulation
- Plump skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Support lymph drainage
- Help tighten skin
- Reduce puffiness due to excess fluid
- Support clearance of nasal and sinus congestion
Are facial massage rollers worth my money?
Abso-freaking-lutely! Similar to body massage, handheld facial massagers work under whatever pressure you decide to apply to effectively loosen super-tight spots and support circulation. After just 3 months of use, my terribly tight jaw (I unconsciously clench during sleep and stressful times) feels SO much better. I’ve also stopped grinding my teeth during sleep which is an amazing, unexpected result.
Here are three of my fave facial massage rollers:
The Facialift (approx. $38 USD)
You’re welcome. One trial of this magical tool will have you agreeing it’s a never-leave-home-without-it thing. Designed by London’s most sought-after skin specialist, Sarah Chapman (a pure genius in my opinion), the Facialift has improved saggy areas around my mouth (think inside-out dimples) PLUS it also alleviates major tension around my jawline and neck after long days of university study.
Jeanne Piaubert Stimuloval Roller (approx. $43 USD)
A little smaller and not as effective as the Facialift, this little roller is still a great addition to your beauty facial massage routine. The soft, small plastic spikes don’t pierce the skin, so I love using it to get at the tricky little crease-prone area between your eyebrows (where botox is often first deployed). I also love rolling it along my forehead to get blood moving. Every time I use it, I notice some of my deeper creases appear lighter!
Mauli Rituals Anti-aging Massage Dome (approx. $83 USD)
Just delightful! This tension-release massage tool is deeply rooted in Ayurvedic history. Designed to gently lift, sculpt and smooth your skin, it’s a sweet little addition to your beauty toolbox. I use it mostly when my face feels puffy.
I’ve never tried nor heard of any of these techniques before, but they sound very promising and make sense! Thanks for a great read . Definitely going to give the Gua Sha a try and go from there!
Yay! I hope you enjoy gua sha, Judee—be sure to let us know what you think. xo!
I am SO excited for you to try this! Definitely different – we’re so used to rushing through the usual skincare routine, but this really makes you stop for a few mins to honor you, your skin, your beautiful face… Definitely puts me into a meditative, calm state too which is always the best way to start the day (or end the day – night-time gua sha is delicious too).
Enjoy, can’t wait to hear what you think!
Yes! I have a microcurrent device, though I don’t use it enough, and a little facial massage device that came with exercises that I notice are just like the gua sha illustration. It feels great and helps my skin puffiness in the morning.
So glad to hear you’ve tried out a couple of these techniques, Lu. Mwah!
Ah, fantastic Lu! Time to bring that microcurrent device back out of your cupboard girl, they’re wonderful! And great to read you’re a regular face-massager, such a nice way to treat yourself at home.
Thanks, Kris and Danielle! What do you use with the microcurrent machine? Mine came with some gel, but I use aloe vera gel instead. I’m not that excited about either one.
Thank you so much for the great response! xxoo
The picture has a jade roller – and the headline is about 3 facial tools. But it doesn’t tell anything about the jade facial roller
Hey Jaquelyn! The jade roller falls into the “handheld roller” category, though Danielle does explain that she prefers some other types and why. Thanks for reading!
Hey Jaquelyn, let me know if there’s anything specific you want to know about jade rollers… It’s such a common beauty tool these days, I decided to focus on the lesser known, more important gems (I think) are MUCH better and more effective for your time, money, face 🙂
I love my jade roller…feel so cool and soothing, and I notice a difference when I use it regularly.
Jade is such a lovely, soothing crystal isn’t it Elizabeth! I do hope you get to try a few of the other ‘bits’ I suggest too, it’s good to mix it up every now and then, and they’re all such wonderful ways to treat your (gorgeous) face – enjoy!
Yay, I already have a Gua Sha, but oddly, haven’t used it. My little stone is pink and came in a black velvet satchel. It wasn’t expensive at all, and I know how to use it… though I am not sure WHY I haven’t. Silly Me. After reading this, I’ll dive right in.
Yipeeee Carolyn! Sounds like you have a gua sha made from rose quartz, which is such a beautiful crystal that some say represents ‘abundant love’ which is the perfect thing to craft a gua sha tool from I think, how fab! Enjoy you gua sha-ing girl, I hope you enjoy every minute!
So how much money do you get from each purchase on all these overpriced products you’ve hyperlinked to?
You can find many of these for 1/10 of the cost on aliexpress… The marketing is insane, and zero scientific studies, let alone side by side before and after photos to back up the claims
Hi Joelle, thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I don’t receive any money for sharing information about my favorite products linked in this post. Each gem is listed/linked simply because I found them to be the best of the bunch tested over the last 10 months.
And when I say ‘tested’, let me reassure you I’m not one to discriminate, no way! I’m always after a good bargain, however, the 8 very-similar, MUCH cheaper items I purchased from aliexpress and Amazon were all as I expected them to be, unfortunately…cheap. Some broke whilst in use and a couple of the tools came in unsanitary packaging.
I’d never endorse anything I wouldn’t use on my own skin because I love and respect every single person who takes time out of their day to read my posts!
I do hope this clarifies things for you.
All the warmest,
I started using the NuFace microcurrent a month ago. I really see a difference in my 54 year old skin. Since I have Hashimotos I didn’t want to use Botox or fillers so I was looking for something to give me a lift. It really works and is fast and easy. One tip is to have enough of the conducting serum on or you will feel the current more. So excited to see you recommending it!!! Woo hoo!
Hey Stacy, that’s a GREAT tip, thank you! I’m so thrilled to hear you’re seeing results with your microcurrent device – I find them to be such joyful little things. I purchased the one mentioned above last year and began using it once a week, and was so (happily) shocked with how well it lifted my face after using it a couple of times week – when I travel, it’s the first thing I pack which I’m sure you can relate to! So inspired by you and your quest to find things to support your body/health. Nothing more healing than loving yourself enough to take time to look after what you’ve got!
Thank you for this! I’ve not used many facial tools outside of Yamuna Face Balls, which I definitely think you should look into if you haven’t already! I’m going to try the gua sha! It’s so handy to carry around. I love how you use it everywhere!
Hey Yumi, you are so welcome 🙂 Yamuna face balls are so interesting! I had a session with them recently at FaceGym and loved every minute it. I am so interested to hear more about your experience with them – they’re not as easily obtainable as they used to be a few years ago I notice, but great tools to have as part of your beauty arsenal all the same.
Gua sha will be a wonderful addition to your makeup bag, and I really do use mine most days wherever I am. Have fun discovering all the ways to make it work for you!
Lizzie, what lovely words to read, thank you so much for taking the time to write. I LOVE the sound of your facial massage – fingers are great tools we can use when we’re on the go! I also love the look of that oil – so much so I’m ordering some to try myself! Thanks so much for the recommendation sister, and enjoy experimenting with the face massager 🙂
I am a total newbie here. I am very interested in all the above but again being a newbie I am confused. Do you recommend getting one (facial roller, microcurrent, Gua Sha) of the above or do you use all types? If all, how often do you rotate them out? Just want to make sure I know what I should be ordering. Appreciate you and this post! 🙂
Hey Lauren, great question girl!
I recommend experimenting with as many of these heavenly tools as possible to find what works for you, however, if the budget is tight, treat yourself to a professional facial that incorporates many of these tools to get a feel for how they work on your face – results are different for different people and you may have target areas different to mine.
Read above to identify the main things each tool is good for, then go from there… I began with Gua Sha, as mentioned above, and as time passed, I added (and still add!) to my beauty toolkit after trying (and loving!) new products.
If I had to pick the most adaptable tool from above that can be done anywhere without the addition of oils, etc, I’d say the Sarah Chapman Facialift is a good one to go with. It’s the main one I take with me everywhere, it’s the one that seems to have the biggest response in terms of benefits and good feels for many different types of women (and men! Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve spied my husband loving every minute of using it too!).
The main thing is to have fun with any of the tools above – one or all – and feel amazing.
Appreciate you!!! 🙂
This is Quite Lovely
So pleased! Thank you for taking time to not only read this post, but to leave such a lovely comment. Blessings to you 🙂
I was using the NuFace microcurrent stimulator. I loved the results it gave me. In 2016 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and have spent the past 2 years healing and moving forward. I got out the NuFace and was reading the booklet and it said that if you have had cancer you should not use it. I would like to know why. Do you have any information on this?
Hmmm… Interesting Marie, thanks for highlighting this! I am not familiar with any of the NuFace devices, though I did reach out to them (more than once) to find out more information about this warning they issue, however, they never responded. Disappointing.
After delving a little more into the science, I found many clinical trials reporting the success of microcurrent stimulation in relation to producing more ATP energy in cells. I guess that’s the main reason why it’s so darn effective in lifting the skin and supporting facial muscles + other degenerative muscular pain/disorders.
In a nutshell, ATP plays a MAJOR role in everything we do – it’s a huge part of the metabolism puzzle being largely responsible for the breakdown and usage of the food we eat, turning it into fuel our cells use to maintain/build/repair organs/skin/proteins/tissues. Without ATP we wouldn’t exist!
So, my guess is microcurrent technology comes with a warning for cancer patients because it supports the growth of cells – which could potentially support the growth of active cancer cells too.
Now, having said this, please be aware I am NOT a doctor or cancer specialist, I’m making an educated assumption based of my current university studies + preliminary research via published, peer-reviewed clinical studies.
Cancer remission seems to be a different thing, as I’ve found other clinical trials utilizing different kinds of microcurrent stimulation in the healing of wounds and alleviating depression in cancer patients.
If you prefer to err on the side of caution, leave the microcurrent stimulation alone for now until you get the ‘all clear’ and perhaps have spoken to a cancer specialist to verify it’s safe to use in relation to you/your personal cancer journey.
In the meantime, focus on having some fun with the hand-held massage tools I mention above. And, if finances permit, try to treat yourself to a facial massage every now and – it’s always such a lovely treat to have someone else do it while you relax!!
Wishing you continuous love and healing,
Very nice, thanks for posting!
I will send it to my wife. 😉
Hey Thomas, aren’t you a fab husband!! 🙂 Hope she enjoys the info.
Thanks so much, Kris! I so value your opinion when it comes to clean skincare products I can trust. Very grateful to have access to a reliable source. Many blessings to you!
Hello! Great article & im ready to get started. Problem is, I’m not sure what’s best. Would you list exactly which tools for a newbie & how to learn the best way to perform this massage.
Hey Suzanne, I LOVE the Skinesis facial roller for any new skincare newbies – all you do is hold it n’ roll it – super-duper easy, you cannot go wrong, and it’s affordable/long-lasting – I’ve had mine for almost 8 years now!! You also don’t need to pair it with creams/lotions, etc. It’s certainly a tool I find myself gifting to friends and family the most 🙂
Hope this helps!
Thanks, Danielle! for sharing these tips , amazing post , i also want to use these tools .
Lisa, you are so welcome! It’s truly my pleasure, I LOVE to share this info. Thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂 All of the tools above are truly worth it – you don’t need them all at once, I slowly integrated each into my daily routine. Have fun!
I am using Gua Sha facial tool. Its really amazing. I love to read about beauty and skincare stuff. Today i found best blog. Thank you for share.
Vinita, thank you for making my day with this lovely comment! So thrilled this info resonates with you!!
Thank you so much for sharing Facial Massage Techniques. I am very excited to see the results.
Kevin, you’re so welcome! Have fun with these fab facial tools and techniques – there’s nothing better than taking some time each day to stare at your own beautiful face AND taking good care of it too!!
Thank you for a great post!
The 3 products all sounds great and effective, the Gua Sha is a very interesting tool/product and the techniques on how to use it easy to follow!
Hey Dani (great name BTW 😉 ) Three cheers for Gua Sha!! I really love my little self-care routine using this tool…it brings me back to my breath + I love how easy it is to look after myself with just a few magical massage strokes (that feel great too). Enjoy!
Great article! Thank you!