Incorporate Facial Massage into Your Repertoire

By Rebecca Jones
[Ten for Today]

1. Offer Rejuvenation

Facial massage energizes clients, leaves their faces looking fuller and more radiant, and softens bags around the eyes. “When you massage the facial muscles vigorously and precisely, you stimulate blood and oxygen to move through the musculature,” says Nina Howard, co-owner of Bellanina Institute in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The school is renowned for developing the Bellanina Facelift Massage, which incorporates 32 separate movements that begin under the chin and work along the jawline and cheekbones. “Where there’s blood and oxygen, there’s more life,” Howard says.

2. Look Better, Feel Better

Judy Porter, owner of ReFACEology in Beech Mountain, North Carolina, avoids using the term facelift because she fears creating unrealistic expectations in clients. “If they’re 50, this won’t make them look 25 again.” But, she says, facial massage will not only make their skin look better, it will make them feel better emotionally. “All those little muscles in the face are intricately linked to our emotions. When you’re upset, you furrow your brow, but when your brow is not furrowed, you relax more.”

3. Find Your Target Market

Facial massage is a good technique to market to clients who might not be interested in a full-body massage. Women tend to be more interested than men, Porter says, but she also markets to male clients who may buy a gift massage for a wife or girlfriend. Facial massage can also be helpful for clients suffering from headaches, temporomandibular joint disorder, or Bell’s palsy.

4. wash hands thoroughly

Proper hygiene is critical when working on the face. “Often therapists will massage your feet, then walk around and put their hands on your face,” Howard says. “That’s a no-no. You want to make sure that before you touch the face, you have washed your hands thoroughly, because the face has the ears, the eyes, the mouth, the nose—all orifices where contagion can happen.”

5. Apply Sunscreen 

Therapists might also consider putting sunscreen on a client following a facial massage. “It’s an easy thing to incorporate,” says Rhonda Allison, CEO of Rhonda Allison Clinical Enterprises, which makes an all-natural sunscreen. “It’s a beautiful add-on, and you’d be doing a great service for that client.” Remember to be extra cautious when putting any substance on a client’s face. Allison recommends doing a light cleansing on the client before applying sunscreen. As with any other treatment you offer to clients, provide a proper intake form and screen for any allergies.

6. Learn Lymphatic Drainage

Bruno Chikly, MD, developed a technique for lymphatic drainage that involves flat hands and gentle, wavelike movements that can reduce swelling, rejuvenate tissue, and facilitate metabolic by-product movement. “It’s an easy technique to employ before, during, and after a facial massage,” says David Doubblestein, a certified lymphodema therapist and an instructor at the Chikly Health Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “It’s easy to apply and very relaxing.” 

7. Consider Craniosacral 

Craniosacral therapy is a gentle approach that involves palpating and evaluating the movement of the cerebrospinal fluid to release tension in the central nervous system. “We don’t consider it massage per se, but it’s a gentle lifting of the bones in the cranium,” says Mya Bremen, a massage therapist and longtime practitioner at the Upledger Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. 

8. Introduce Ayurveda 

For those drawn to ayurvedic therapies, shirodhara offers an unusual variation on facial massage. In shirodhara, the therapist doesn’t initially touch the client, but instead holds a pot filled with oil, water, or buttermilk, and allows it to rhythmically drip down onto the client’s forehead for 20 minutes. “The main benefit is that it relaxes and calms the mind,” says Anupama KizhakkeVeettil, assistant professor at Southern California University of Health Sciences in Los Angeles. The oil flows from the client’s head down into another vessel and is used later in a scalp, neck, and shoulder massage.

9. Try a Touch of Acupressure

Acupressure techniques can also inform facial massage. “In traditional Chinese medicine, healing comes from the inside out,” says Joseph Carter, director of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California. “The health of the face is an expression of the health of the internal organs.” For example, one specific acupressure point near the jaw (known as Stomach 6) has to do with digestion, and as the musculature around it relaxes, metabolic by-product movement is facilitated and blood flow is enhanced. “Working on that point will relieve a headache or open sinuses, but its main use is to make facial muscles fuller, more relaxed, and well-irrigated with blood,” Carter says.

10. Prolong Your Career

Because facial massage techniques are so gentle, they can extend a therapist’s career. “I notice a lot of my students are in their late 40s to early 60s,” Howard says. “They say they love the profession of massage, but they’re wearing out and want to find something they can offer their clients without the fear of breaking down their own bodies. With this, they can create longevity in their career.” 


Rebecca Jones is a tenured Massage & Bodywork freelance writer. She lives and writes in Denver, Colorado. Contact her at