Skin Care

Lymphatic Drainage Facial Massage: What’s All the Fuss About?

The lymphatic system is responsible for flushing out the toxins and unwanted substances produced by your body. Failure to do so and your skin declares the endgame.

Written by Manal Yahya

On Mar 25, 2023 – 8 minutes read

Lymphatic Drainage Facial Massage What’s All The Fuss About

We have 42 muscles on our face. All of these are dedicated to making expressions and showing emotions on our face. So, one can only imagine how beneficial a facial massage will be to relax those muscles. One such insanely effective facial massage is lymphatic drainage facial massage that targets the lymph-nodes and as a result, drains toxins. Now, what is all the fuss about this particular massage?

Not only is it one of the most effective but also easiest, gentle massages that focus on pressure, speed, and direction to sculpt your jawline, remove puffiness from under your eyes, and help the health of your skin. Not to mention, this completely non-invasive facial massage technique will result in a toned, depuffed, and glowing skin in no time without much effort. Sounds helpful, right? Well, it is quite helpful and effortless at the same time when you only need to know the right amount of pressure while pressing on your skin to do it by yourself. Let’s dig deeper.

Lymphatic Drainage Facial Massage

As the name itself suggests, lymphatic drainage facial is the process of draining and circulating fluid from your lymph nodes by massaging the skin. A network of vessels and organs called the lymphatic system lies underneath your skin that runs parallel to the circulatory system. Instead of blood, it circulates a colorless fluid called lymph— that carries white blood cells (to fight infection), oxygen, and nutrients to tissues throughout the body —which bathes the tissues and drains through the lymphatic system into your bloodstream.

Know your lymphatic system

The lymphatic system is a vital part of the immune system as it works as a sanitation system of your body. Basically, it gets rid of things that can invade your body (like bacteria), and ‘waste’ that your body naturally produces like excess fluids. However, unlike the circulatory system, it does not have a pump to work on its own. Instead, it solely relies on your physical movements (yoga and exercise) and targeted manual lymphatic drainage to circulate. 

Lymphatic Drainage Facial Massage

The lymphatic system(1) consists of lymph vessels (resembles arteries or veins) and lymph nodes— which helps to filter (not pump) the lymph and produce new lymphocytes. Through this network of hundreds of lymph nodes, it drains fluid (lymph) to be transported back into your bloodstream. Your cells depend on this fluid to transport substances, communicate with other cells, and help those cells. Unfortunately, lymph does not always drain properly on its own. At times, lymph nodes can get ‘congested’ or ‘swollen’ which will affect the flow of lymph.

When there is any kind of obstruction in your lymphatic system, cellular waste will start to build up in and around the cells which can contribute to issues such as lymphedema and chronic swelling(2). Also, a damaged network or stagnant lymphatic system can damage the entire process. Particularly, on the face and neck. This could lead to clogged pores, dehydrated skin, dull skin, puffy skin, and slowed healing. This is where manual lymphatic drainage comes! It is designed to stimulate the flow of lymph by gentle, circular movements to promote a contouring effect while promoting relaxation, too.

Benefits Of Lymphatic Facial Massage

Reduces inflammation

Lymphatic drainage facial massage’s benefits are plenty. With the most significant medical benefit of lymphatic drainage being ‘able to treat lymphedema’ as this treatment aids in accelerating the absorption and transportation of lymphatic fluids, this massage can help with other conditions involving the lymphatic system as well. It can even reduce the swelling after surgery as well. For instance, reduce swelling after the wisdom tooth is removed.

Face slimming

It is not actual facial fat removal, but it can reduce water retention and bloating which can have temporary visual slimming effects. It will encourage your lymphatic system to deliver fresh nutrients to your cells which in turn will wake your skin, support healthy cell production, and boost circulation.

Skin benefits

  • Improve various skin concerns such as acne, clogged pores, dehydrated skin, dull skin, and puffy skin (caused by stress, travel, or lack of sleep). 
  • Improve overall glow and radiance of your face.
  • Improve cellular turnover and elasticity.
  • Improve facial contouring.
  • Speed up the healing time of eczema, acne, and other skin problems.
  • Help in speeding the fading time of dark spots or any discoloration.
  • Minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Improve allergy symptoms that appear in the face and neck. For eg. congestion, watery/puffy, or itchy eyes.

Stress relief

Reduce stress by releasing tension in muscles and connective tissues of the face, head, and neck.A 2022 study even showed that a specific manual lymphatic drainage intervention including body massage helped reduce fatigue symptoms related to Long COVID(4).

How To Do Lymphatic Drainage Facial Massage At Home?

Luckily, doing lymphatic drainage facial by yourself at home is not rocket science. Anyone who has 20 minutes at tops to spare can do the full facial massage (less time for busy people) with the right amount of pressure. If you prefer a much better option, you can place an appointment at the salon to have an expert do the lymphatic drainage. While doing at home, you should try to add this to your skincare routine, especially while cleansing. To achieve better results, you can do this at night since the practice is relaxing or morning (if you prefer). Use gentle and slow pumping movements without causing too much pressure— which engages the circulatory system instead of the lymphatic system.

lymphatic drainage facial massage at home

It is crucial that you know everything is somehow related to each other when it comes to your body. When it comes to the face, in particular, everything connects to the lymph nodes around your ears and then flushes down your neck. Lymphatic drainage of the face starts on the neck just above your collarbone as this is the terminus where all lymph from the head and face will drain to. So, any lymph drainage practice has to begin by opening up through your neck and collarbones, or it won’t work. Now, here’s the how-to guide of lymphatic drainage facial massage:

Steps For Lymphatic Drainage Facial Massage

Prepare for the massage

  • Start with washing your hands if you are using your fingers (other tools are mentioned below). 
  • Take deep breaths to relax your muscles. Rest your palms on your stomach and take a deep breath until you feel your stomach pushing inside. Then, breathe out until your stomach is flat. Repeat five times.
  • You can choose to sit, stand, or lie down. Get comfortable.

Start at the base of your neck

  • Figure out how much pressure to use. Rub gently into the skin without pushing too hard. Do not forget to remember that you are not massaging your muscles rather it is your skin to encourage the lymph to move(3). So, a touch with lighter pressure is needed for this as it is close to the surface.  
  • The first step starts from massaging the base of your neck with your index and middle fingers. These pathways, when massaged, can help lymph fluid to drain from the body. Massage with slow and measured movements.
  • Move to the lymph nodes on your neck which are directly under your ears. Tilt your head back and gently massage underneath it for five seconds. 
  • Now, move to the stem of your neck; just above the collar bone and around your clavicle. Massage there and clear the terminus with your fingers doing pumping actions.  

From chin to forehead

  1. Move up to your chin. It includes the whole jaw with three touchpoints. The first one is the center of your chin; under your lips. Massage there for five seconds and then, move along to the edge of your lips, and then to the end of your jawline. 
  2. Move to your cheeks. Beginning at the area on either side of your nose, massage your cheekbones.
  3. Now, massage alongside the outer under-eye. This will help you reduce the puffiness.
  4. Move up to your eyebrows. Massage upwards on the area between your eyebrows and eyelids with three middle fingers.
  5. End with the forehead massage. Rub your forehead alongside the inner corners of your eyebrows; the top center of the forehead at the hairline. Then move along to your temple. 


  1. Repeat the process around 5 times in each area.
  2. If you want to, you can place your hands on your chest and lightly brush your hands outwardly toward the armpits. 

Pro Tip: Your skin shouldn’t look flushed in any way after the facial massage. 

Is lymphatic drainage facial massage safe?

Yes, lymphatic drainage is generally safe. However, it is highly recommended to be avoided by individuals experiencing the following:

  • Skin infection.
  • A high risk of blood clots.
  • Congestive heart failure.
  • Swelling with no known cause.
  • Post-surgery lymphedema marked by localized swelling. 
  • Active infection or inflammation of the lymphatic vessels. 
  • Fever or any upper respiratory infection. 
facial massage

FAQ On Lymphatic Drainage Facial Massage

How often do I have to do facial massage at home?

Although once to twice a week is enough, you can do more times than that.

How long should I wait to see results?

As lymphatic drainage facial massage is not a quick fix, you cannot see the results quickly. It is temporary as well. So, do it twice every week for better results. You will be enjoying the process more than you’d expect.

Can I use my fingers to do facial massage?

Yes, you can use your fingers. But it is important to wash your hands before touching your face.

What do I massage with?

In order to avoid dragging your skin, use any plant-extracted oil (avoid brightening oils) or balm on your face before you proceed with lymphatic drainage facial massage. Remember, moisturizers and serums are not for massaging.

What tools should I use to massage?

Other than fingers, you have a few tools available in the market to do lymphatic drainage facial at home. One benefit of these facial rollers is that they can temporarily relieve puffiness as they are naturally cool to touch. You can store them in the fridge beforehand to amplify the coolness.
1. Jade rollers: A smoother roller, often with two sizes, to roll across the surface of your face. You can use the smaller part to focus on the skin around your eyes.
2. Gua-sha: A traditional Chinese medicine that has a smooth crystal shape with different curves that will look quite alarming to people who are not familiar with it. It is ideal for draining and lifting.

  1. Future US. (n.d). Lymphatic System: Facts, Functions & Diseases. [Online] Available at:
  2. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d). Lymphedema. [Online] Available at:
  3. Bright Body. (2020). How To Do Lymphatic Drainage: Face & Neck. [Online] Available at:
  4. H Heald A, Perrin R, Walther A, Stedman M, Hann M, Mukherjee A, Riste L. Reducing fatigue-related symptoms in Long COVID-19: a preliminary report of a lymphatic drainage intervention. Cardiovasc Endocrinol Metab. 2022 Apr 12;11(2):e0261. doi: 10.1097/XCE.0000000000000261. PMID: 35441129; PMCID: PMC9010124.

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Manal is a lifestyle influencer who has spent years delving into the world of beauty, fashion, and wellness- a pro when it comes to anything woman.

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