Is a Facial Massager the Secret to Firmer, Tighter Skin? We Investigate


In my humble opinion, the best part of a facial, esthetician appointment, or skin treatment is the face massage. There's something simultaneously relaxing and invigorating about it; I always suspected that it was great for my skin, but it turns out that it's even better than I previously thought. Take it from dermatologist Dendy Engelman. "There are many benefits to frequent facial massages. It's a short addition to one's skincare routine that greatly enhances the skin's appearance." Plastic surgeon Melissa Doft agrees: "Facial massage devices can be helpful in increasing blood flow, leading to decreased puffiness and improved circulation," she says. "Patients find that they appear more awake and radiant."

Meet the Expert

  • Dendy Engelman, MD, is a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Shafer Plastic Surgery in New York.
  • Melissa Doft, MD, is the founder of Doft Plastic Surgery and a clinical assistant professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Facial massage may be quick and effective, but it's still a technique with a right and wrong way of practicing. In other words, it doesn't involve rubbing or pulling the skin. Instead, it should be gentle and thoughtful. That's why it might be time to invest in a facial massage device. These devices are clean, easy on the skin, and super effective (trust me).

Keep reading to learn more about facial massager benefits and see the ones that experts recommend using.

The Benefits of Facial Massages

Facial massage can improve the appearance of your skin in myriad ways. It improves circulation, relaxes muscles, and tones: "First," Engelman says, "massaging the facial skin helps to relax the muscles that tend to cause stress lines. The stimulation of the skin results in increased circulation, which ultimately helps produce collagen and elastin."

Graceanne Svendsen, an expert esthetician from Shafer Plastic Surgery, says she practices facial massage on her clients often. "By doing facial massage, the texture of the skin is improved by virtue of manual stimulation and flow of lymph. Facial massage detoxifies the skin—both lymphatic drainage (fluid) and the exfoliation effect of getting rid of dead skin cells." That's why she likens facial massage to a "workout for the face." She approves of devices that have LED lights, can be cleaned of dirt and bacteria, and are safe enough for sensitive skin.

At-Home Facial Massages

Svendsen says the power of human touch is incredibly powerful. "The healing effect of human touch has been clinically proven and well revered," she says. "Our parasympathetic nervous systems and neurotransmitters like oxytocin and serotonin respond to another human's touch in a most profound way. When I am massaging my patient's face, I am literally creating a healthy energetic to share with them, similar to that of hands on reiki."

However, it's unrealistic to visit a dermatologist or esthetician every single day for a facial massage. That's where these at-home devices come in. "Massage 'machines' could be beneficial as a secondary home device done by the patient as a means to 'keep up the good work' and practice self-care," she says. In this way, a professional facial massage is like a personal trainer, whereas a massage device can be thought of as at-home gym equipment; it's still important.

Shop Derm-Approved Facial Massagers:

Conture Kinetic Skin Toning System

Conture Kinetic Skin Toning System $209

As for Engelman, she recommends the Conture Kinetic Skin Toning System. "It gently lifts and releases the targeted skin zone to stimulate the skin, similar to the positive effects seen in skin massaging. Conture's massaging effects are clinically proven to improve the skin's radiance/luminosity while simultaneously reducing the signs of aging." She actually prefers her clients use devices instead of their hands to massage at home, due to the dirt, bacteria, and debris our hands often carry. "Using a device particularly designed for facial massages is a more sanitary solution and also enables the product being applied to be absorbed deeper into the skin," she says.

NuFace Mini Facial Toning Device

Somerville 360°™ Tanning Towelettes
NuFace Mini Facial Toning Device $209

I can't end an article on facial massage devices without naming my personal favorite from NuFace. I lift up and out with the cooling silver tips, which gives a sculpting effect. Even though I've only used it a few times, my skin looks less dull and feels plumper and more defined. I'm planning on using it almost religiously around my neck and jawline since that's the area I'm concerned is aging the fastest on my skin. The best part is that it's easy to stow away in a purse or suitcase while traveling (honestly, it's really cute, and I love seeing it on my vanity).

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