4 Pros Share Their Techniques for an At-Home Lymphatic Massage


PHOTO: @JORDANRISA

Fine lines, puffiness, and a decrease in collagen production are among the routine beauty challenges we deal with as we get older. While those of us privileged enough to celebrate the passage of time strive to age gracefully, the notion of what that means varies from person to person, and across cultures.

Lately, lymphatic drainage has garnered buzz amongst beauty editors and has been embraced by everyone from the celebrity set to suburbanites in recent years. This practice, which can be traced back to Danish doctors Emil Vodder and Estrid Vodder in the 1930s as a treatment for chronic sinusitis and other immune system disorders, involves stimulating the lymphatic system through gentle pressure and massage to stimulate flow and activate the body’s filtration mechanisms. 

This increasingly popular procedure can be performed to target areas from head to toe, done at home with a few key tools, or experienced in a professional setting depending on your budget and personal preference. Seeking to demystify this medical-sounding treatment, we reached out to three experts to learn as much as possible about lymphatic drainage and its beauty benefits.

Below, Camila Perez, Lori Bush, Jason Leong, and Karen Ballou explain why they love lymphatic drainage, advise on techniques, and share a few tools and skincare product recommendations for readers wanting to try the practice at home.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is Lymphatic Drainage?
  2. Camila Perez, Lymphatic Drainage Massage Expert 
  3. Lori Bush, Co-Founder and CEO of Solvasa
  4. Jason Leong, National Training Executive at Clé de Peau
  5. Karen Ballou, Founder and CEO of Immunicologie

What Is Lymphatic Drainage?

PHOTO: @JOANNACOOPS

Each of our experts describes lymphatic drainage a bit differently depending on how and where it is practiced, but ultimately, all four agree that it is a massage technique used to stimulate the flow of fluids throughout the body’s natural filtration system.

“Lymphatic drainage is a technique that stimulates and encourages the accumulated fluid between the cells to return to the vessels and move towards the bloodstream. The blood will bring nutrition and oxygen to the cell. After cell metabolism, some debris is absorbed by the bloodstream through small capillaries while excessive fluid and larger molecules are drained by the lymphatic system. This manual technique ultimately will increase the lymph flow and the process of filtration through lymph nodes.”—Camila Perez

“Lymphatic drainage, historically performed on the body (below the neck), is the application of one or more non-invasive techniques to enhance the movement of lymphatic fluids into lymph nodes for clearance of waste and toxins from the body. More recently, aspects of lymphatic drainage have been incorporated into aesthetic facials. Solvasa’s proprietary Crystal Lymphatic Massage combines the benefits of lymphatic drainage with muscle tension release, enhanced micro-circulation and the delivery of skin brightening and lifting adaptogens and peptides.”—Lori Bush

“Lymphatic drainage and massage are light massaging motions that strengthen skin's natural purification process by stimulating the flow of fluids through lymphatic vessels and capillaries. Unlike your veins, which use the heart to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body, your lymphatic system relies on muscle movement and pressure. This is one of the reasons why lymphatic drainage and massage can be key to creating radiant skin.”—Jason Leong

“This type of massage encourages the movement of lymph fluids around the body. The lymph system is what works to eliminate waste and toxins in our body, so this massage can help flush out what we don’t need to support our natural lymph function. The process also helps reduce bodily swelling and water retention and supports blood circulation.”—Karen Ballou

Camila Perez, Lymphatic Drainage Massage Expert


PHOTO: @CAMILAPEREZ

What Are the Health and Beauty Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage?

“Lymphatic drainage massage can benefit people who suffer from a number of ailments, including lymphedema, fibromyalgia, edema, fatigue, insomnia, stress, digestive problems, migraine. Also, studies have proven that lymphatic drainage can help with cellulite.”  

“The primary function of the lymphatic drainage massage is to reduce swelling and contribute to the best circulation. It may sound simple, but homeostasis (balance between nutrition and oxygenation coming from the blood to the cells and the cellular waste that the lymphatic system cleanse after cellular metabolism) is the key for keeping other systems working properly and maintaining health in general, including immunity. Of course, our bodies are designed to do it naturally, but many factors can contribute to a sluggish lymphatic system.”

“One example of beauty benefits is reducing the appearance of cellulite because it always starts from poor circulation and edema. By maintaining a routine of lymphatic drainage massage, you can prevent and treat cellulite, and a healthy body will always look its best. Health and beauty can't be separated.”

How Did You Learn About Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

 

“I learned about Lymphatic Drainage Massage in Brazil more than 20 years ago when I attended an esthetician program and I fell in love with the technique. My teacher was passionate about it, and I think I got it from her. The program included esthetics, but also pre-and post-surgery (yes, in Brazil we can prepare a client for the surgery). We even had an opportunity to work on patients recovering from burns, helping with the skin healing process. It was incredible! Having the massage done professionally is ideal. Besides being precise, it is a relaxing experience. But it’s possible to improve lymphatic drainage at home, either with a self-massage or during daily activities.”

What Are the Tools or Products You Need to Do This at Home?

 

“To do your self-massage at home, I recommend a body or face oil. Besides helping with gliding, you can associate the benefits of the active ingredients and aromatherapy. My favorites for the body are Clarins Contour and Tonic Body oils. For face, now I'm in love with Clarins Santal Face Oil. But I also love Clarins Blue Orchid.”

“Tools can be fun and can help facilitate access to certain areas like glutes and back of the legs. You can use wood pedals, gua sha, or dry brushing. Even with the hands, it can be very effective.”

What Are the Techniques?

 

“When performing this treatment at home, a great way to start is by gently massaging the neck and collar bone since that is the location of an important chain of lymph nodes. When you have damp skin after a shower, you can apply body oil and begin to stimulate the armpit and groin area with gentle hand movements. I share many different tutorials on my Instagram which help to target different regions of the body.”

“Tools you can use while performing this treatment are wood pedals, gua sha, or a dry brush. I love using Clarins Contour Body Oil because it was created specifically for lymphatic drainage. It contains all-natural oils that increase circulation, detoxification, and skin tightening like geranium, sweet marjoram, and lemon. Apply the product with gentle, upward movements towards the heart.”

How Do You Know What Areas to Target?

 

“You can focus on a specific area if you have edema or any digestive issue, but  I always recommend working on the whole body since it's a connected system.”

Any Other Beautifying Wellness Rituals You Recommend?

 

“Some other good things to do are to lie down with your legs elevated, taking 5 minutes to breathe deeply. This will release edema and increase circulation.  Baths with magnesium and epsom salt are a tremendous detoxifying ritual and are the perfect combination to your lymphatic drainage.”

Lori Bush, Co-Founder and CEO of Solvasa


PHOTO: @LORIBUSH
 

What Are the Health and Beauty Benefits of This Practice?

 

“The overall benefits are to support the body’s immune response and treat the effects of inflammatory stress such as post-surgical swelling, lymphedema, and fatigue. Aesthetic benefits may include the reduced circumference of thighs and reduction in the appearance of cellulite.”

“For the face, the primary benefits are reduction of puffiness and a brightening lift to the complexion. With the Solvasa Crystal Lymphatic Massage, benefits include those of lymphatic drainage as well as the reduced appearance of glabellar lines (the “elevens” between the eyebrows), reduced appearance of facial lines, and wrinkles, and a firmer appearance to the face and neck.”



 

How Did You Learn About Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

 

“I first learned about lymphatic drainage through my work in product development for a leading pharmaceutical and consumer products company back in the 1990s. At that time, some physician’s offices and medispas had specialized equipment to perform body lymphatic massage, but over the past few decades, techniques and tools to perform aspects of lymphatic massage at home have emerged. Because of the non-invasive nature of facial lymphatic massage, with the right tools, this is one of the few aesthetic procedures that is adaptable to a DIY process.”

 

What Are the Tools You Need to Do This at Home?

 

“For Solvasa’s Crystal Lymphatic Massage, you need a Crystal Energy Wand (a smooth rose quartz stone on an ergonomically designed vibrating appliance) and Solvasa DeStressance Serum that enables the rose quartz to glide over skin without tugging, and most importantly, that creates an integrative procedure with the extended, multifaceted benefits.”

 

What Are the Techniques?

 

“The process involves applying the DeStressance serum to the face and neck without rubbing it in. Then, treating the face in various zones, the vibrating wand is firmly drawn from various points at the center of the face or below the chin towards the lymph nodes. This is one of the reasons that the wand is not a roller, as rollers tend to be used in a back-and-forth motion, whereas lymphatic drainage is a one-directional in practice.”

 

How Do You Know What Areas to Target?

PHOTO: @ITSHEYMORGAN
 

“Solvasa provides simple video tutorials and instructions with mapping.  A complete face and neck procedure takes approximately 3 minutes a day.”

 

Any Other Beautifying Wellness Rituals You Recommend?

 

“Solvasa has also created a unique approach to facial cleansing that addresses the very different needs of the skin at the end of the day versus at the start of the day. As with the Crystal Lymphatic Massage, we like to direct our customers to our free Solvasa Life Mindfulness App to ‘habit stack’ simple little mindfulness and breath practices into daily beauty routines for anti-inflammation self-care.”

Jason Leong, National Training Executive at Clé de Peau Beauté


PHOTO: @JASONLEONG
 

What Are the Health and Beauty Benefits of This Practice?

 

“Strengthening [the] skin’s natural purification process through massage and Synactif skincare will improve the appearance of [the] skin’s contours, texture, and tone.”

 

How Did You Learn About Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

 

“I found out about lymphatic drainage when I was first taught facial massages many years ago. It wasn’t until I started working with Clé de Peau Beauté that learned about Tsubo points (acupressure points) and how much skin purification is one of the keys to skin regeneration.”

 

Must This Be Done By a Professional, or Can This Be Done at Home?

 

“Lymphatic drainage and massage can absolutely be done at home. I do light massaging every morning and night, and sometimes midday when I feel particularly fatigued or puffy. An everyday type of massage should only take an extra minute or two.”

PHOTO: @PEONYLIM
 

What Are the Tools You Need to Do This at Home?

 

“You really only need fingers and a good skincare product with enough slip that allows fingers to gently glide across the skin. Gua sha tools can enhance your massage movements by working with your facial contours, while rollers can make drainage quick and easy.”

 

What Are the Techniques?

 

“In general, your motions should start at the center of the face, then moving up and out towards the hairline or ears, then down to the jaw and sides of the neck. An easy technique for me to remember is to trace the Clé de Peau Beauté ‘key’ on my face.”

 

How Do You Know What Areas to Target?

 

“The eye area, cheeks, and jawline are often the areas most visibly affected by a weakened lymphatic flow. You may have noticed those are the areas we experience puffiness the most. Remember: Dedicating separate time for lymphatic massage isn’t always necessary. Lymphatic drainage and massage can be done lightly during every step of your skincare routine, even while cleansing!”

 

Any Other Beautifying Wellness Rituals You Recommend?

 

“I’ve started giving myself extended facials where I combine exfoliating and corrective treatments in the evening with additional energizing treatments the very next morning. I do perform light lymphatic drainage with each step.”

Karen Ballou, Founder and CEO of Immunicologie


PHOTO: @KARENBALLOU
 

What Are the Health and Beauty Benefits of This Practice?

 

“This massage, like other bodywork, helps relax the body while stimulating detoxifying bodily functions. There is no fat loss happening, but the decrease of water retention provides a slimming effect. You’ll leave this type of massage session with a glow from the circulatory boost as well.”

“Some people have a condition called lymphedema where fluids are built up in the body (for example, following a surgery near the operational site). There are other health conditions that lead to impaired lymphatic vessels, but if you’re healthy, this massage can still help reduce bloating for a temporary body contouring.”

“Facial massage using gua sha, or done at home or at the spa, can use this science to help reduce puffiness and boost blood flow for better skin function and radiance. Immunocologie utilizes these methods in facials to decongest the face and help detoxify the skin. Reviving fluid in the face—along with the mineral and ingredient absorption allowed by our unique delivery system—allows amazing health and beauty benefits like reducing facial inflammation and stimulating new collagen production.”

 

How Did You Learn About Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

 

“As an esthetician, I learned about the lymphatic system during my training and education. We use it in our services when needed, after doing an analysis or consultation for clients.”

“The lymphatic drainage massage for the body is typically done by a professional (certified lymphedema specialist, massage therapist, esthetician). There is a technique to massaging the correct areas with a certain sequence, direction, and pressure. It’s important to know that it’s not the same pressure as a regular massage, as the lymph vessels are not as far below the skin as our muscles, however, some of the techniques can definitely be learned with practice and performed at home. Another modified variation to add to the experience of this massage can be done with a dry brush: Your blood and lymph flow can be stimulated by brushing in circular motions.”

 

What Are the Tools You Need to Do This at Home?

 

“Pressure applied with the hands is the foremost technique, however, with the development of this practice, there have been many tools and modalities to help perform the massage at home, such as gua sha and other similar hard and flat tools, cupping, or specialized lymphatic drainage rollers. It is mostly done with pressure through the hands.”

 

What Are the Techniques?

 

“The massage is all about gentle pressure applied intentionally near our lymph nodes and in the direction of their flow. First, these areas are flushed to get their lymph fluid drained (to wipe out toxins) and surrounding areas are warmed up to prepare to take new fluid. Then the massage helps the body or face reabsorb the lymph fluid. Afterward, it’s important to rehydrate, since the massage will accelerate the body’s waste removal.”

 

How Do You Know What Areas to Target?

 

“To know the areas to target, you will have to determine your specific health needs. I recommend consulting with a professional to help with this, as they can recommend a specific treatment. If you’re doing this at home, start with the face and neck, with motions moving towards the heart.”

 

Any Other Beautifying Wellness Rituals You Recommend?

 

“With the reset we all need after the pandemic, we encourage rituals like meditation and energy work. Immunocologie offers this with our Crystal Energy Facials, which are great for setting intentions and putting people in a place to rediscover their wellness journey.”

“For the face, we also love facial yoga and massage, as well as hot/cold therapy (contract hydrotherapy), where you expose the skin to hot and cold temperatures in intervals. Blood flow from these rituals supports the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the skin. Immunocologie’s Lava Mask, a self-heating warm sheet mask that can also be used as a cold compress, is one of the most innovative current products in beauty and wellness for stimulating the blood and lymph flow, bringing oxygen to the skin.”

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