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What the F*ck is a Facial Massage

by Layla Ahmad

If you go on YouTube and type in “Facial Massage”, the first couple of videos you’ll see are instantly calming before you even hit play. I zoned out so hard just mindlessly scrolling down the first page that when I woke up I thought it was the weekend. Taking one look at the click-baity faded pink backgrounds, zoomed in on perfect Insta-friendly manicures pushing down on poreless jowls should give you a good idea of what these beauty YouTuber behemoths are peddling. However that isn’t why we’re here today. We need to get back to basics… what the f*** is a facial massage?!

In order to figure out WTF a facial massage really was, I decided to go the holistic route, as I thought I may get swindled into accidentally buying a new face if I stepped too far down the medispa route. (Stranger things have happened to me.) Living in Toronto, one of the most popular holistic spas is a very zen location located in the West end of the city, called Laya Spa, where you can go and bliss out, get treatments done, or practice yoga. I rang up my old pal Olivia Korwan, RMT (Registered Massage Therapist) who works at Laya Spa. A notorious espouser of the benefits of face massaging, there was no one better I could think of to prod for information while having her prod my face. 

When ranking the popularity of the service as opposed to other more “normal” services, (i.e. full body massages), Olivia said that while people generally do come in for other massages, it’s not uncommon for people to book a single half hour treatment that is devoted just to a facial massage. She said that while a half hour facial massage is targeted solely towards the patients face, she does like to include the neck as well because they are all connected, as the neck does get tight as well due to daily strain. Many people that come in for these treatments are nowadays typically in their twenties, so it’s never too early to think about your face! 

While I had my cheeks pushed firmly upwards and my forehead aggressively drummed, I waxed poetic on these massages possibly being a phase for recent converters. Olivia disagreed and said that many of her patients coming in came regularly due to conditions like TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) and teeth grinding, making it about half cosmetic reasons and half medical reasons.

“In the same way that people do yoga and workout, facial massages help to keep your face muscles toned, and helps prevent aging signs like wrinkles.” If you are tense, your muscles will sag. Not a great look. You want to keep them loose and functioning properly so that you can look the best version of yourself. Just like massaging your legs, hips, and shoulders, keeping them working well keeps them in order and running smoothly for as long as possible. A regular facial massage will help to keep your facial muscles that you use to eat, talk and breathe smooth, tight, and not locked. There is so much going on in that area, that you don’t want them tight or locked up, much like mine were as Olivia kept urging me to “unclench” my jaw, as I grind my teeth intensely and have a very tight jaw, so my massage was on the firmer side.

For those of us who are looking to get a little more intense within the facial region, Olivia says to keep intraoral massage in mind. She does it quite regularly for a few clients, which is where she wears rubber gloves and goes right into the person’s mouth. She says it’s very beneficial to include as part of a facial massage as you can get right into the joints from the inside and do trigger point therapy directly in the mouth instead of from the outside, as the mouth has layers of muscle that can be accessed. I was extremely curious, however passed on getting intraoral massage this time.

As a major reflexology-doer, I wanted to know about any special trigger points on your face, and she mentioned the TMJ area as being a connector for your muscles, as well as where your teeth are as that is an attachment site where you elevate your jaw. 

I needed to know if it was too late to save my face using massage and asked her when the correct age to start going for facial massages was. Olivia reassured me that it was not too late, and that your twenties was the perfect time to start, “right around when you start putting on serums.” Little did she know I’ve been slathering myself in serums since I could basically speak, and secretly sighed in relief. 

“If you’re going to treat your externals well, the massage will help the insides function alongside it.” As I was so relaxed at this point I would have basically have given my credit card away to the first person who asked, so I just kept asking questions as she moved on to massaging my temples, hairline, and scalp. Scalp massages are the secret to life in my opinion.

I needed to know her thoughts on injectables and other anti-aging methods as used by people in their early-twenties. Without passing any judgement on those who dabble in one or the other, Olivia said in her professional opinion that rigorously taking care of yourself in a holistic way by using methods such as facial massage and establishing an exercise routine may be better in the long run, rather than relying on something such as fillers that you have to keep going back to. A word to the wise, as I had my face kneaded, I was told that contrary to popular belief, the more pain the better is not true. You do not want to be in extraordinary pain, and should have an open channel of communication with you practitioner. If the pressure is too much, say so. Olivia spent a lot of time on pressure points underneath the ears and below the jaw, which are apparently where people hold a lot of there stress, (i.e. when you walk around with a clenched jaw looking extremely angry but not meaning to.) And she used coconut oil instead of a chemical oil, which I personally loved. As I have a mild case of TMJ and have basically grinded my teeth to dust, I can say that not only did this massage feel beyond heavenly, but it really did completely unlock my jaw and loosen my face. I looked refreshed, and glowier after. My skin looked tighter, and I did not feel the need to put on foundation due to my newfound freshness.

Although in a normal session I would not have been chatting and laughing the entire way through, I can say with one hundred percent certainty I will be back on the table ASAP, this time probably snoozing as I have my entire face molded, drummed on, pushed, and squeezed towards the heavens.

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