The oldest known Facial massage in human history dates back to the third century B.C. where it was written about in an ancient Chinese medical text. Scientists have discovered many subsequent ancient medical records in archeological digs conducted in Greece, Persia, Japan, and India. All these early-day writings have one thing in common; their Facial massages were described in vivid details but always as part and parcel of total body massage therapies in which specific pressure points on areas of the face and neck were depressed sufficiently to loosen obstructions in the flow of the vital energy which is also known as gi. The standalone Facial massage of the recent Western world was popularized in twentieth-century Europe before it was inducted into the North American world of cosmetic and beauty treatments. As a result, Facial massage came to be regarded as the job for estheticians, cosmetologists, and makeup artists rather than massage therapists.
In the cosmetic and beauty arena, the Facial massage is administered with the intent to slow down the natural aging process and to attain younger, healthier, and more vibrant looking and feeling facial skin. However, Facial massage also has therapeutic benefits as it can relieve and mitigate stress, migraine headaches, premenstrual syndromes (PMS) as well as sinus congestion.
In spite of their growing demand as entire massage sessions of their own, Facial massages are not precluded from total body massage treatments. Needless to say, Facial massage treatments which are performed the entire session are much more comprehensive and include many elements which are not included in Facial massages that are part of full-body treatments. In both instances, though, gentle yet stimulating upward strokes are used in circular or semi-circular gliding movements. A typical and basic Facial massage will include the following procedure and usually in that same specific order:
- With the client comfortably reclining on his or her back on a treatment table and the professional seated closely to the client’s head, the face is thoroughly cleanses and wiped dry.
- A lubricant such as a cream, a lotion or oil is applied to the entire face and neck area. The Facial massage will begin with repetitive rounded movements and will include every part of the face as well as the neck, ears and scalp. Crucial pressure points will also be stimulated in the process.
- The face, neck and ears are cleansed of the lubricant used for the massage and a facial moisturizer is applies.
Facial massages may also include the removal of facial hair as well as the removal of blackheads and whiteheads which will necessitate a moist steam treatment. These three elements will be included right after the massage session and before the application of the moisturizer. In addition, the entire process may be culminated with the application of full or partial makeup and sometimes even a hairdo.
The benefits of the Western-style Facial massage are:
- Improvement of the facial skin and its muscle tone.
- Relaxation of the facial and eye muscles.
- Alleviation from tension headaches and general facial pain.
- Relief from stress and anxiety.
- The overall release of stress from the body and mind.
Facial massages are part of full-body treatments in Eastern therapies where pressure is applied to points on the face that correspond to various internal organs such as the stomach, the liver, and the gall bladder. With such different techniques, it is not surprising, therefore, that the benefits of the Eastern Facial massages are very different from those of the West:
- The stimulation of meridian points on the face.
- Relief from eyestrain and neck tension.
- Correction of liver and fall bladder imbalances.
- Recovery from nervous disorders of the stomach.
- Release from premenstrual water retention.
Facial massages, Eastern or Western, are not recommended under the following circumstances:
- While clients are wearing contact lenses.
- Open sores, boils, cuts or recent scar tissues in the face or neck areas.
- Inflamed, infected or bruised skin of the face and neck.
- Acne, psoriases or eczema, all of which can be worsened by the treatment.
Facial massages are most often performed with bare hands that are lightly lubricated by oils or lotions to help them glide more smoothly over delicate facial skin. However, there are some mechanical devices that may also be used instead of the hands or in addition to them. Best of all, in my opinion, Facial massages can very easily and effectively be self-administered just about any time and anywhere, and there are countless resources on the Internet that will instruct interested persons how to master the art.