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How To Use A Face Roller: 6 Tips + Benefits, From The Pros

Hannah Frye
February 23, 2023
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
February 23, 2023
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Lymphatic drainage tools have been around for centuries—and people have long relied on their hands to get the lymph fluid moving in the body and the face. 

This fingers-only approach is still practiced by many, but helpful tools like face rollers can supercharge your lymphatic massage, should you want the help—but first, you'll have to know how to use them. Here's what the pros recommend. 

How to use a face roller. 

If you want to use a face roller, a few guiding principles will help you get the most out of your tool. Below, a few best practices to keep in mind: 


Clean your face + tools. 

Before you touch the face roller to your skin, be sure to have both surfaces clean. Just cleanse your skin as you normally would (or double-cleanse, if you're into that), and then use face wash or hand soap to clean your face roller. 

Then gently dab your skin with a clean towel and dry off the face roller. If you want some extra de-puffing power or a quick refresh, pop your roller in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes before pressing it to your face. 


Apply a serum, moisturizer, or face oil. 

"Using a facial roller after moisturizing would be preferable in order to minimize the risk of friction that could potentially damage the skin," board-certified dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, M.D., FAAD, founder of MaeiMD, tells mbg. 

Medical aesthetician and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare Joie Tavernise agrees: "This will help with product penetration and ensure that the roller does not drag or pull the skin to cause wrinkles," she explains.

If you want to apply a hydrating serum and go in with your face roller before topping off your skin care routine with moisturizer, feel free to do so. Or, if you want this to be your last step, then pick up your roller after applying the rest of your serums, moisturizer, and perhaps a face oil.


Roll down for lymphatic drainage. 

The main reason people look to face rollers is their ability to trigger lymphatic drainage, thus de-puffing the face. Many people think rolling upward will support this purpose, but, in fact, you'll want to move downward, says traditional Chinese medicine expert Debbie Kung, DAOM, LAc.

The goal here is to gently move lymph fluid toward your lymph nodes, where it can drain. The closest lymph nodes to your face are those on the sides of the upper neck, which is why you'll want to start by rolling down toward those points. 


Alternate between short and long strokes. 

"Around the nose and the mouth where there's not much room, you can actually do shorter strokes, and then when you're doing the forehead or the chin to the cheek, you can do longer strokes," Kung says. 

This method will ensure you're massaging each area of the face properly without pressuring yourself to connect every single line you make. After all, this process is supposed to be relaxing, not stressful. 


Roll upward for a lifted look. 

You don't have to stop after your initial go-around, though. "For more of a lifted look, you'll want to go upward toward the hair," Kung says. You can do this on each part of the face after you've gone through your lymphatic drainage rollout—think of it as a second pass for aesthetic benefits. 

Whether you're rolling up or down, always roll toward the outside of your face, board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, M.D., notes. This will help guide the lymph fluid toward the edge of your face, as well as help de-puff. 


Roll on the back of your neck. 

Your face roller isn't just reserved for the face (though the name might have you thinking otherwise). In fact, traditional Chinese medicine uses tools like face rollers to move around heat, or chi, in the body, Kung explains. 

One way to move around this heat is by rolling upward or downward on the back of the neck. Moving from the bottom of the back of your neck to the top (right where your hairline starts) will help to increase mental clarity and improve complexion, Kung says, thanks to the increase in blood flow and chi. 

However, if you feel a headache coming on or you're experiencing a spike in mental stress, she recommends rolling down along the back of the neck to move blood flow and chi down your body, relieving tension in the head. 

What do face rollers do? 

Now that you know how to use a face roller, let's move on to the benefits you can expect. 

  • Lymphatic drainage: "I find face rollers to be most useful to help stimulate lymphatic drainage and support optimal circulation, which can improve skin by minimizing puffiness and making sure that nutrients are delivered efficiently to cells," Marcus explains.
  • Cools the skin: "In some cases, the roller itself may be cooling on the skin, which helps to reduce puffiness, as it causes the blood vessels to constrict and the pressure of the roller helps to push fluid away," Garshick says. If you pop your tool in the refrigerator, those benefits will only increase. 
  • Improves radiance: Garshick notes that the massage, in combination with the draining function, may improve radiance in the skin temporarily. It's no wonder this practice is so often used before big events!
  • May help release facial tension: "I'm a huge fan of doing these treatments at night to ease the tension in my jaw and neck muscles after a long day," Tavernise says. 
  • It's relaxing: Last but not least, using a face roller can be a relaxing ritual that helps you relieve stress. In our increasingly fast-paced society, who doesn't want a few minutes of ahhh to start or end their day? 

Do face rollers trigger collagen production?

While face rollers are great for lymphatic drainage and relaxation, they won't necessarily increase the collagen in your skin, nor will they ease wrinkles entirely. 

"Face rollers do not trigger collagen production in any significant way," Marcus notes. "However, by supporting circulation, they help cells to maintain optimal function, which is necessary for efficient collagen production," she adds. 

So, while they're not entirely useless when it comes to collagen production, they shouldn't replace your collagen-restoring skin care routine or collagen supplement, either. If you're looking to boost your collagen production, opt for one of these methods instead


Do face rollers work for wrinkles?

Face rollers do not contribute to collagen production in any significant way, so they won't fully reduce wrinkles. However, Marcus notes that they can support circulation and overall skin function, which contributes to efficient collagen production. All in all, they won't fully get rid of wrinkles, but they do contribute to healthy skin aging and function.

Do face rollers give you a jawline?

While face rollers may temporarily de-puff the face via stimulating lymphatic drainage, they do not have permanent effects. If you want more de-puffing power, pop your face roller in the fridge before using it.

Do you roll your neck up or down?

On the front of the neck, always roll upward toward the lymph nodes. On the back of your neck, you can roll upward or downward, Kung says.

Is it better to use a face roller at night or in the morning?

You can use a face roller in the morning to de-puff and awaken the face. At night, face rollers can help release facial tension and provide a moment of peace and relaxation. You can opt for one or the other, or feel free to roll at both times.

The takeaway.

At the end of the day, face rollers have plenty of worthy benefits, assuming you use them correctly. Remember to roll toward the top of your neck for lymphatic drainage purposes, and roll upward toward the hairline for a lifted effect on the skin. Always clean your tools and your skin before starting, and make sure to apply a hydrating serum, moisturizer, or face oil ahead of time. Not sure if face rollers are your thing? No worries: Here are a few more facial massage tools to consider

Hannah Frye author page.
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor

Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including skin care, women’s health, mental health, sustainability, social media trends, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends and innovations, women’s health research, brain health news, and plenty more.