We Want to Believe: Facial Massage

yes, exactly the same

Welcome back to We Want to Believe: A Column About Beauty & Money.

Meghan: Good afternoon, Audrey!

Audrey: Hello. I am writing to you from my sick couch. That’s the first thing you should know. I am gross and sick and massaged my gross sick face.

M: I feel particularly terrible about this because last week I was in Mexico (which is why we were absent here).

A: Tbh you should feel terrible. You are a bad person for enjoying life while I’m dying.

M: I LEGITIMATELY DO, but like not enough to not enjoy Mexico? Also, bonus beauty tip here: SUN. My skin is clear my spirits are high my crops are verdant. There is nothing sun cannot do.

So okay beyond our wise, revolutionary insights that sun makes you feel better and being sick makes you feel worse, we are going to talk about one of my most favorite beauty things: facial massage.

A: Or facial MASS-age, as the charming British lady in this 20-minute video (!) you sent would say. She gets very granular about the facial massage.

M: I love Lisa Eldridge. She’s a British makeup artist and I take anything she says as gospel because she says it so politely and Britishly. So when she was like, facial MASS-age is my secret, I did not hesitate. Her massage routine is adapted from a few different schools (?) of facial massage, so she incorporates acupressure and circulation techniques. It’s meant to both stimulate cell growth and relax tension in your face. Also, key: IT IS FREE. It is free. It is a free beauty thing.

A: Right, I cannot bitch about the price of this one. But, okay, perhaps you can help me with a question I have about this process. She, in the video, claims she and her mother both have this line-less skin because of facial MASS-age. But the eye cream/serum people make it sound like if you don’t apply face stuff with a feather-light dab ONLY, you are literally pulling your skin off its hinges and making horrible jowl wrinkles. Which one is it? I don’t get it. Have I been spending forever dab dab dabbing for no fucking reason?

M: What did you use to do your massage? I think that’s important to the pulling/dabbing debate, because she does stress that you want to use a massage product that allows your fingers to gliiiiiiiide across your skin, not yank at it.

A: It must be slippy! Okay, that distinction makes as much sense as anything, I guess. I used olive oil. What did you use? I bet a fancy product. You’re so good at fancy products.

M: Can you use olive oil? Is that a thing you’re allowed to do?


M: LISA SPAKE IT, okay, okay, I believe you! When I first started my MASS-age, I bought Boots Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm (which Lisa mentions) because it is a very pleasing thing to say and also it is British. It is great, recommend, although it does leave a bit of residue. So I used that for a while, and then I switched to organic rosehip oil, and now I’m using my avocado and raspberry cleansing oil from Province Apothecary. Ugh god shut up Meghan.

A: Ha ha ha I love you and your products, you are amazing at life. So, is this something you have been doing for a while? What are your impressions generally, over the long-term?

swishy swishy flicky flicky

M: I’ve been massaging on and off for a year. She does say you should spend 20 minutes massaging, which IMHO is a long time to be rubbing your grimy hands over your face. But it is relaxing, especially when you get way into your masseter and kinda dig around in there. What I have done is incorporate a quick one into my cleansing “routine” so I will frequently do a little flicky-flicky across my forehead and neck for the lymph draining. I still have 0% idea what the lymph is, but I’m really into draining it. I think, much like dry brushing, it does improve your colour? Maybe? And also helps you feel pretty squeaky clean afterwards. As a first-timer, what were your thoughts?

A: Well, she said it helps when she’s congested, which is exactly what I am. I did lots of the sinus pressing, which felt very nice in the moment but I think made my sinuses mad because about 10 minutes later it was like a brick in my nose. But it felt nice? I also learned that either I have very wide fingers or a small, Neanderthal-like forehead, because when I was attempting to “scissor” my forehead I could fit like 20% of the fingers in there that Lisa could. I have included photos for comparison. This realization makes me feel a little weird, honestly. I had never thought to worry about my narrow forehead before.

forehead envy

M: Maybe it’s just that Lisa has a high forehead. It’s a very regal trait. You do become hyper-aware of your features while massaging, it’s true. I spent a lot of time studying the lines in my forehead trying to decide which way to scissor based on my individual wrinkles, which was “fun.”

A: Hooray! That sounds like something I need to add to my life.

So yeah, I dunno, facial massage seems fine I guess. If it feels nice and you’re bored, then yeah, why not. I’m not sure I buy her claims of eternal youth through massage but she does look incredible, so? Also I feel that I should Google lymph and find a definitive answer on how much of that I want in my face.

M: Please do. I mean, if we want to drastically overreach about the importance of beauty and therefore this column, I’d say that what I really love about facial massage is that it is a free self-care ritual. It gives you an excuse to just pet yourself for 20 minutes, to really lavish attention on something. There’s nothing else in my beauty “arsenal” (hahaha) that is so purely self-indulgent but also forces you to be very aware of your face. I like that. Also, did I say it is free?

A: That is extremely smart and well-said. I guess I just don’t really do a good job at liking beauty rituals. For me, self-care looks more like giving myself permission not to spend 20 minutes covered in salad dressing thinking about my wrinkles.


Audrey: Worth It

Meghan: Worth It

More on facial MASS-age on Into the Gloss and Refinery29.