Let's clarify: I am not anti-Botox on principle alone. I simply think there are more natural methods that people might choose over injectables if they knew they had a good alternative. I've seen firsthand the ways we can work with the skin with that rejuvenated look in mind.
When we look at what skin aging actually is from Eastern perspectives, it is a slowing down of circulation of blood, otherwise known as "life force" (and referred to as prana or chi in texts). When we age, it's a slowing in the circulation of nutrient-rich blood and detoxifying lymph and increasingly sluggish skin-cell turnover.
In those two ways, the skin becomes more "stagnant." When used for long periods of time without a break, Botox decreases flow in the face even more by immobilizing the facial muscles. With long-term use, the deadened facial muscles may atrophy, which can take on a gray and lifeless pallor. (I've seen it firsthand in my practice.)
Facial care with cumulative benefits.
I am most interested in sustainable skin-care practices with cumulative benefits rather than quick fixes with long-term cumulative damage. My goal is to bring life, vitality, and nutrients by way of increased circulation. I want to release any blockages in the muscles, skin, and fascia that are preventing optimal circulation and release tension that we don’t need to carry with us. When we release tension and restore optimal circulation, deep lines can soften, skin becomes rosy and plump again, and worry and strain can melt from the face.
So this can (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly) give the effect of Botox with glowing skin, improved texture, and more plumpness, but it actually imparts a much deeper healing. The benefits of this work resonate with a feeling of well-being throughout the nervous system and psyche as well as being seen and felt on the face, much like bodywork.
Foam rolling for your face.
A gentle roll, of course. There are two main points of tension I aim to loosen and move. One is superficial fascia and the other is lymph. Lymph is a highly underrated circulatory system within the body and it is responsible for detoxifying waste from the skin on a cellular level, in addition to its many, many other functions. When we are holding tension in the muscles and fascia, lymph cannot move freely and do its job of clearing out waste from the tissue. The result of poor lymph flow can present as dull skin, an accumulation of blackheads and milia, and/or stubborn hyperpigmentation, just to name a few.
Superficial fascia is the layer of connective tissue right under the skin on the face. It acts as the support and infrastructure for your skin and is responsible for giving it lift and tone. It can also carry a lot of tension and adhesions that restrict circulation of blood and lymph. If you’ve ever used a foam roller on tight legs, think of how much softer one leg feels after rolling when compared to the unrolled leg. Foam rolling is a form of self-administered myofascial release, and that is what we want to do for the face!
Spots with the most tension include:
The neck is the superhighway of ALL circulation to and from the face. A tight neck acts like a traffic jam on the freeway from the body to face and back again. This prevents detoxifying lymph from draining as well as it should, and working the neck alone can be major in bringing flow and vitality back to the complexion as well as reducing puffiness in the face. Most of my clients experience a very high level of neck and jaw tension due to the stress of being boss babes in the workplace and city living. I say if we’re going to work hard, we’ve got to self-care hard too.
The scalp is essentially an extension of the face. The forehead muscle stretches far back into the hairline, and the jaw muscle has scalp attachments up above and around the ears. Massaging the scalp can aid in the release of tightly knit foreheads and locked jaws, it feels amazing, and it will also increase blood flow to the scalp and stimulate hair follicles for healthy locks.
DIY facial fascia massage.
Don’t massage any areas that actually have Botox, especially if you have a fresh injection, and do not massage over active acne.
All you need is a few drops of facial oil for slip and glide (whatever you use on the regular is ideal). Try this using flat fingers of one hand, while the opposite hand supports, or use a gua sha board. Pick one side to start with. Do that full side of the face, then repeat everything on side two. The hand on the side you are working will do the movements; the opposite hand supports. Move slowly, with intention, and focus on feeling a gentle stretch in the skin. Remember to breathe as you do this.
- Start by doing a free-form massage of the face, neck, and scalp to identify areas of tension. Notice what feels tight. Massaging in deep circles, check in with your neck, shoulders, jaw, and temples.
- Starting with the neck, thoroughly massage all around, front and back, being more gentle on the delicate front of the neck.
- Take a deep breath and set a self-loving focus.
- Starting at the forehead, support with the opposite hand while the working hand glides out to the temple using medium pressure. Repeat this a few more times.
- Move down the face, section by section, using your hands or your tool, always supporting at the middle of the face while the working hand moves out, with a handful of strokes at each station.
- After doing one full side, take a look and feel what is different! For some it may feel firmer or released, softer or more supple. It may not feel like much at all.
- Mirror everything you did on side one on side two.
With practice and regularity, your skin will definitely thank you for showing it some extra love and keeping circulation moving!
Intrigued? Try a different version of Britta's work: a gua sha massage.