Want younger-looking skin? Here's the rub: Facial massage can firm, smooth and sculpt.
Whether it's a seaweed-based cream or a tofu-rich diet, the beauty secrets of the Far East have long held appeal for Western women. But it's only recently that their key anti-aging weapon has entered the spotlight. Facial massage - a series of hand manipulation techniques that relax muscles and increase circulation - has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and has been practised for more than 1,000 years to maintain health and beauty. Now, some of the biggest beauty brands are offering products that work best when coupled with specific massage techniques.
"The theory in TCM is that your facial appearance is a reflection of your body's internal condition," says Mary Xiumei Wu, a doctor of TCM and president of the Toronto School of Traditional Chinese Medicine. "For instance, a kidney deficiency can show up as deep, dark circles under your eyes." (Conceale dark cirlces with these tips). While massage alone won't treat internal health problems, when done regularly it can help relax the face and alleviate dullness, sagging and even frown lines.
Why, then, have we been ignoring our faces for so long? (After all, we think nothing of indulging in regular tension-melting body massages.) "The belief that you can harm the skin and increase aging with facial massage has only recently been contested," says Anastasia Achilleos, a London-based facialist who counts Kate Moss as one of her clients. "By not touching [your face], you're actually allowing it to remain stagnant, dull and sluggish."
Some beauty brands, including Shiseido, promote massage as part of a daily cleansing routine. Laura J. Goodman, a skin-science specialist for P&G Beauty, says that this idea is popular in Japan, where there is a major emphasis on taking care of your skin with a proper cleansing routine. "Massage is an important part of cleansing," she says. "It helps increase movement and circulation below the skin." SK-II offers a cream that's specifically formulated for massage alone and meant for use after cleansing; it glides easily over the skin instead of being fully absorbed. "This allows you to massage your skin more easily without stretching or pulling it," says Goodman.
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