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I've always taken pretty good care of myself. I exercise daily, drink at least two liters of water a day, have a thoughtful skincare routine, and generally eat healthily. But some days I feel more bloated and puffy than others, and I have been desperate to find a solution. I did a pretty hefty Google search and ended up on Instagram scrolling through lymphatic drainage before-and-after pictures.
To be clear, the lymphatic drainage massage has been around for decades. It's long been a popular technique in countries like France and Brazil, but it's really started to gain traction in the U.S. in the last few years (hence the lymphatic drainage images flooding my feed right now). Using specific movements, the technique targets the lymphatic system and helps stimulate the natural drainage of lymph, a colorless fluid that carries waste away from your body's tissues. "When you have fewer toxins and retain less edema in your body, you have less inflammation," says massage therapist and lymphatic drainage expert Camila Perez. "When you increase the number of defense cells in your body, it's good for your immune system, so managing and reducing inflammation levels is a great technique for disease prevention."
Perez is a true industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience as a massage therapist, first in her home country of Brazil and now in Miami. She's the founder of massage studio MOVA by Camila Perez, where she launched her signature technique, Massage High Definition, and has become a highly sought-after lymphatic drainage masseuse by everyone from Bella Hadid to the Kardashians. And as if that's not impressive enough, she's now a Clarins ambassador as well.
I realize many of you might not live in a city where licensed professionals are available for this sort of treatment, but Perez assures me that's okay. "Going to a professional offers the full experience, but your system can still majorly benefit from at-home treatments," she says. "You can balance your blood flow, lymphatic flow, and prevent cellulite. It's good for your health and for managing stress. The most important thing is to understand and follow the lymphatic pathway." Oh, and having the right skincare products and tools on hand makes all the difference.
That's exactly why Perez wanted to become an ambassador for Clarins. Along with sharing many of the brand's values, Perez has long been a loyal Clarins customer. "I've been using the oils for more than 20 years. I love and trust the brand so much. I love that they're environmentally conscious and use natural, essential oils. And I incorporate many of their products into my treatments with clients," she says. Since I don't live in Miami, I asked Perez which must-have products are needed to mimic one of her treatments at home, and she gave me the scoop. Keep scrolling for Perez's product picks and tips for a DIY lymphatic drainage massage.
"I like to apply Clarins Total Eye Lift ($89) to keep my under-eye puffiness under control. The formula is a complete all-in-one anti-aging eye cream and targets many concerns like wrinkles, crow’s feet, puffiness, and dark circles. Caffeine and guarana are my favorite ingredients to stimulate circulation, which helps reduce swelling. You can also apply it before makeup. It gives you an instant lifted look that, at 43, I genuinely appreciate."
"This is a do-it-all serum. Double Serum's ($127) hydrolipidic formula (water and oil) mimics the skin’s natural barrier and targets hydration, nutrition, oxygenation, regeneration, and protection. It also has turmeric, and when a product has turmeric, you want to use it! I apply it every morning and night as part of my skin regimen. It also works great as a hydrating primer before makeup. You can even add a drop to your foundation for a beautiful, natural glow! The packaging comes with an adjustable dosage, so you can use the exact amount of product you need for application."
"Full of omega 9 and vitamin E, this is my favorite face oil. Great for your at-home lymphatic drainage facial and for sealing in your serums and creams as the last step in your skincare routine. Use Clarins Blue Orchid Face Oil ($62) in the evening after thorough cleansing and toning. While skin is still damp, apply a few drops to the face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Use light pressing motions, working from the center of your face outward. Another good tip to keep in mind is, whenever you start your beauty routine, gently massage your neck and the area above your collarbone to stimulate lymphatic flow. I’m a huge fan of manual therapies. I believe in the power of touch. A perfect at-home lymphatic drainage massage can be done using only your hands and good oil. But adding some effective tools can make the ritual more fun."
"Skincare always has to start with exfoliation. Removing debris and dead cells will increase the skin's ability to absorb the good ingredients in your serums and creams. Clarins Exfoliating Body Scrub ($40) with bamboo powder is gentle and efficient. I love how my skin feels smooth and soft after using it. I like to use it once or twice a week, especially before a special occasion. Gently massage onto clean, damp skin, and pay special attention to rougher areas like the elbows, knees, and feet."
"My experience with this oil is very personal. I found out about it during my first pregnancy 24 years ago. I was focusing on preventing stretch marks and also doing my self-massage to manage swelling in my legs. I had three babies in five years and gained around 48 pounds, and I got no stretch marks. I love natural cosmetics and essential oils, so for me, Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil ($67) is my most-loved body product! It's also part of my signature treatments. Massage a small amount onto dry or damp skin with light, sweeping motions, moving upward from ankles to waist. Concentrate on areas of concern like the waist, hips, thighs, buttocks, and arms, and then rinse with cool water."
"Dry-brushing is great to increase blood and lymphatic flow and promote cell turnover through exfoliation. And it's invigorating. You can do it every day, but if you have sensitive skin, do it very gently up to three times a week. I recommend massaging the areas with the most important chains of lymph nodes: neck, above the collarbone, armpits, and groin area. Then start brushing upward from the ankles to the groin and from the wrists to the armpits. Imagine a horizontal line right on top of your navel. Everything under this line gets brushed toward the groin area, and everything above gets brushed toward the armpit."
"I've tried so many products for cellulite, and Clarins Body Fit ($71) is the most effective. It has a cooling effect and gives the skin an instantly firmer look. I use it myself and recommend it to my clients for home care. Clarins has a specific application method that increases lymphatic drainage, helping control edema, which is the first stage of cellulite. Apply with light, sweeping motions, moving upward from ankles to waist. I like to concentrate on areas of concern like the waist, hips, thighs, buttocks, and arms."
"This is an anti-aging cream for your body! It contains one of my favorite ingredients for tightening skin, centella asiatica. Apply Clarins Extra-Firming Body Lotion ($66) in the morning and/or evening to clean, dry skin. Smooth on with sweeping motions from ankles up to the décolleté and from wrists to shoulders. Pay special attention to the thighs, abdomen, bust, and back of arms."
"The primary purpose of cupping or vacuuming is subatmospheric pressure suction, which promotes peripheral blood circulation and improves immunity, cellular nutrition, and oxygenation. It's part of my signature treatment and can be done at home on both the face and body. If the purpose is lymphatic drainage, use light pressure following the lymph pathway."
"I don’t have a specific brand that I use. I'm actually always trying new Epsom salts. There are many options associated with essential oils, like lavender for relaxation or mint for muscle soreness. Epsom salt is essentially magnesium sulfate, an essential mineral that can help anything from easing aches and pains to managing eczema and other skin flare-ups. Of course, nutrition will provide the right amount of magnesium, but baths are meditative and a great way to take a break from stress. Research has shown that Epsom salt can be absorbed through the skin and aid in detoxification. I love to take an Epsom salt bath during my Sunday ritual, which includes dry-brushing beforehand and Tonic Treatment Oil after my bath. It's a true spa experience!"
"Paddles are also great to use to help access areas that are harder to reach like the back of the legs. You want to follow the same lymphatic pathway as I've already mentioned and use gentle, superficial strokes."
If you're interested in incorporating Perez's lymphatic drainage technique at home, treat yourself to some of the Clarins products mentioned in this story. It's the brand Perez trusts the most to help deliver visible results.