Do Jade Rollers Work? A Dermatologist and Esthetician Explain

woman using jade roller in the shower


Jade rollers had a huge moment a few years back, and they're still a common part of many skincare routines. The rollers claim to promote lymphatic drainage in the face by placing pressure on the lymphatic system so that excess fluid flows outward. But are they worth the hype? Below, we spoke to skincare experts and explore whether jade rollers really work.

What Are Jade Rollers?

Put simply, "Jade rollers are stone rolling devices made of jade, which has been used traditionally in skincare for decades," Joshua Zeichner, MD, explains. The act of face rolling has been around for thousands of years, with origins that can be traced to China, where jade, a semi-precious stone that is said to have energy-healing properties that helped keep the skin youthful and cool, was mined. "The cold touch of the stone can help soothe inflammation in the skin," says Zeichner.

Meet the Expert

Joshua Zeichner, MD, is a New York-based dermatologist.

Renée Rouleau is a celebrity esthetician based in Austin, TX. She is also the founder and creator of her eponymous skincare line.

The Benefits of Jade Rollers

"Rolling the device over skincare products you have applied may help enhance penetration of the active ingredients," Zeichner explains. Anything that can potentially make my serums into SuperSerums is great in my book. Facial massage and face rolling do have some alike tendencies, but facial massage tends to work deeper into the skin tissues to relax muscles and ease tension. Both techniques help to boost circulation, leaving your complexion with a rosy, radiant look, and appearance of smoother, more taut skin.

Can Jade Rollers Really Sculpt Your Face and Jawline?

No—aside from being slightly de-puffing and enjoyable to use, jade rollers unfortunately don't make a difference in the tightness of the skin of sharpness of the jawline. "The muscles in the face will drop with age. It's just a reality," says Rouleau. Jade rollers, due to their 'rolling pin' shape, can't target the muscles enough to be able to stimulate muscle tone and help with lymphatic drainage to reduce puffiness." That being said, there's no harm to be done with using a jade roller, so if you do feel like you're getting enough of a de-puffing effect to see a difference in your jawline, go for it.

How to Effectively Use a Jade Roller

One of the best parts of face rolling is that it really can be done wherever you want, for however long you want. Jade rollers are a quick pick-up, great for vamping up your face right before a party or a meeting, since results can be seen in seconds. You can do it on clean, dry skin, over your makeup, or on top of your skincare products. Just lightly roll upwards and outwards, always aiming for the temples and front of the ears, towards where your body's lymphatic drainage points are: "When using your roller, start from the inner part of your face, and move to the outer part of the face. In treating the jaw and cheeks, start from below and roll upwards against the direction of gravity," Zeichner explains. When working on the neck, roll downwards towards the collarbones.

Beware back-and-forth motions: You want to move the jade roller in an upward sweeping motion, not rubbing.

Alternatives to Jade Rollers

This begs the question: Which tool can get into the contours of the face to relieve pillow face and water retention? According to Rouleau, that's the jade roller's sister, a gua sha tool.

"Like many estheticians, I've been trained in lymphatic massage, and I know it can definitely give results. I use my hands and/or facial cupping, but the gua sha tool can work well, too. You must know the exact way to perform this if your intention is to make the skin look less puffy or you can actually cause more puffiness," cautions Rouleau. "Lymphatic drainage massage with a gua sha tool can take up to 30 minutes if you really want to get serious about it, so you need to decide if the effort is worth the reward." Even after putting in all of the work, Rouleau says the results will typically only last 24 hours.

  • Retinoids: For general healthy-looking skin, Rouleau says you can't beat the gold standard: retinoids. "For smoothing away lines, wrinkles, and fading brown spots, there's just nothing more proven than a prescription retinoid," she says. "Or for sensitive skin types, a well-formulated retinol product can make a huge improvement." For the latter, Rouleau says to make sure it has the following four principles: It's stable, in opaque packaging to protect it from sunlight, kept in an airless container (sadly no dropper bottles as these allow for a lot of air exposure), and it's a product from a trusted, reputable brand. An over-the-counter retinoid, like Differin's Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment, is a great entry point to retinoids because they're much milder than a prescription retinoid you'll get from your doctor.
  • Vitamin C: Rouleau is also a fan of vitamin C and its proven ability to brighten, boost collagen, and protect the skin from sun damage. La Roche-Posay's Vitamin C serum is one of the most popular on the markets for a reason—it's a drugstore favorite with 10% pure vitamin C and salicylic acid to keep skin looking more radiant and hydrated.
  • Chemical Peels: Next is chemical peels. Getting a professional peel may help give a smoother, smaller-pored appearance, which will result in the skin appearing younger.
  • Lower Face-Lift: So what's the best tool for lifting the face? The answer is a bit hard to swallow. "For tightening, I still believe a traditional lower face-lift is the best."
  • SPF: Finally, sunscreen. We've waxed poetic about its anti-aging capabilities (photodamage is a major cause of skin maturation), and we won't ever tire of singing its praises (nor will Rouleau). 

The Takeaway

When it comes to jade rollers, their key benefit is providing a cooling, de-puffing sensation to the face. When used correctly, they can also help improve circulation in the face, resulting in a fresher appearance. Unfortunately, there's less to be said about their ability to tone or sculpt the face. For those kind of benefits, look to gua sha stones for a temporary fix or treatments like microcurrent for something longer-lasting.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Miyaji A, Sugimori K, Hayashi N. Short- and long-term effects of using a facial massage roller on facial skin blood flow and vascular reactivityComplement Ther Med. 2018;41:271-276. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2018.09.009

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