Why You Should Stretch (Yes, Really) Before Starting Your Skin Care Routine
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Stretching is, by and large, reserved for the gym. You know, a simple hamstring extension before a jog or a stretch for tight hips pre-yoga session. Perhaps you do some neck rolls at your desk to ward off the dreaded "tech neck." But before skin care? In the bathroom? Now, that may seem a bit silly—it's not like you're working the muscles or breaking a sweat as you cleanse. So, why bother?
Actually, it's not so far-fetched: According to holistic esthetician Hayley Wood, founder of Therapeutic Skin Coach, just a light stretch can elevate your routine and—get this—help your skin look glowy and toned.
Why should you stretch before skin care?
It's a similar rationale to the pre-workout stretch: "It's an opportunity to open yourself up," Wood notes during a recent workshop with Burt's Bees' new Truly Glowing collection. Which, in skin-care speak, means stimulating circulation and moving around lymph fluid so one area of your face doesn't tighten up with tension.
That way, when you do eventually cleanse your face, your face and neck muscles feel relaxed and even. "When you are putting your hands on your face, you're able to recognize where you're holding on to lymph," Wood adds. Better yet, your skin may also look lifted and toned, as all the built-up lymph starts to flush out, especially after massaging in a cleanser.
An easy pre-skin care stretching routine.
- First, roll the shoulders back a few times. "It's a heart opener, and it helps to elongate the area you'll be working on," says Wood. Plus, it's a delicious feeling for your muscles first thing in the morning.
- Tilt your head slowly from side to side, and try to notice whether one side feels more cramped than the other. If so, move your head to the opposite direction and gently pull on the ear, letting your head hang heavy. It may sound counterintuitive, but "opening the side that isn't as tense can let the other side move more freely," says Wood.
- Finally, shake out your hands, doing a few wrist rolls to get them ready for your routine. As Wood notes, "[Your hands] are your intuitive feelers," so you want to help them prepare for the work.
You can totally stop there, or Wood says you can practice some breathwork to elevate the practice further: She's partial to an inhale for five, hold for three, exhale for five sequence, but you can do box breathing, belly breathing, or any other breathwork technique you please.
A good stretch isn't just for your workout routine—opening up your muscles can make skin care a much more effective (and relaxing) experience. At the very least, take it as an excuse not to blow through the morning cleanse. Stretch, breathe, and start the day.
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