Lymphatic Drainage Techniques for a Clearer, More Chiseled, Complexion

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“Your lymphatic system brings nutrients and carries away waste from every cell in the body,” explains Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care. “It doesn’t have its own pump, so the lymphatic system relies on our own body movement to perform vital function.”

So… what does that mean for us if we’re quarantined at home? Unfortunately, a stagnant lymphatic system can cause acne, breakouts, puffiness and dry skin — which is where drainage comes in. “Drainage means we’re moving stagnant lymph so it can carry away waste and bring in fresh nutrients,” says Dr. Lamees Hamdan, the founder and CEO of Shiffa. Dr. Hamdan also explains that massaging the lymphatic system is key to helping our face and body move the excess water, which causes puffiness. “When lymph is flowing freely you’ll have clearer, healthier skin without a buildup of toxins and fluids.”

So how, specifically, can we go about getting our lymph to flow freely?

Lymphatic Massage

Lymphatic MassageLymphatic massage is an effective way to reduce puffiness, eliminate dark circles under the eyes and lessen the frequency of breakouts.

“I recommend lymphatic massage for anyone,” says Vargas. It’s easy and quick to do. Here’s how:

“Start with clean, dry skin and position your index and middle fingers just underneath your ears, in the soft indentation behind your jawbone. Using gentle but firm pressure, rub your fingers down, then loop back in a ‘J’ motion. Don’t just graze the surface of your skin, but don’t crush your lymphatic tubes, either. Continue this ‘J’ pattern three times, then move to the middle of your neck, right on the sides near your arteries. Do the same at the base of your neck, about an inch above your clavicles. Finally, move to where your neck meets your collarbone and massage the soft part along the same neck line you’ve been following.”

It’s time to move to your chin. “Using your pointer, middle and ring fingers, massage in the ‘J’ pattern three times on your chin, below your lips but to the right and left of your chin cleft. Shift your fingers along your jawline, below the corners of your lips, and rub there. Then go to the far end of your jawline, to the muscles where many of us hold tension. Using the two fingers you started with, go back to your first position, under your ears and massage there. Move down your neck in a line, working the same positions you worked on your neck previously. Then go under your eyes, massaging in the ‘J’ pattern along your eye orbit, from the sides of your nose to just below the outer corners of your eyes. End at the place where your cheekbones meet the sides of your eyes. If you’ve got puffy eyes, especially in the morning, this will dramatically improve under eye bags.”

Where does the fluid from your puffy eyes drain? “Down the sides of your face,” says Vargas. “To move that excess liquid through your lymphatic vessels, massage the sides of your face, right toward the top of your ears, then shift down to the middle of your ears, then to the bottom of your ears, where your jawline begins. Finally, return to your neck, right where you began, and travel the length of your neck once again. Now reposition your fingers on your forehead, right above your eyebrows. Rub three times here, then move along your forehead, massaging in the middle, and finish at your temples.” If you’re prone to breakouts on your forehead, Vargas underlines that this will help clear out the inflammation that triggers them. “Because the fluid needs to drain, move to your ear position and massage there, then finish up along your neck. It’s vital you remember your neck, because this is where the excess liquid eventually drains out into your tissues.”