Is Facial Massage an Alternative to Botox?

Michelle Villett
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At a cost of around $200 and up, Botox isn't exactly a budget-friendly beauty treatment. Now some experts are touting facial massage as an alternative that produces similar results on lines and wrinkles—without hitting your pocketbook. How so? The thinking is that it increases circulation, relaxes muscles and lowers wrinkle-causing stress hormones. (But not, of course, if you've got dragon-lady nails like the lady in this picture—ouch! Please file first, Gentle Reader.)

Want to know how to give your complexion a DIY massage? Dr. Maoshing Ni, a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) expert and the author of Second Spring: Dr. Mao's Hundreds of Natural Secrets for Women to Revitalize and Regenerate at Any Age, offers these instructions in New York's Daily News. (Come on, you know you want to give 'em a try—just, um, maybe close your office door so you're alone when you do this. Otherwise yes, you could look a bit crazy.)

"Start by stroking your face all over with your fingers to “warm it up.” Next, raise your eyebrows as high as you can, hold for five seconds, and then relax. Repeat 10 times. Move your nose from side to side. Repeat 10 times. Inflate your cheeks as though you were blowing up a balloon, and then repeat 10 times. Now, using your thumb and forefinger, pinch along the eyebrow line. Press any forehead lines firmly with your fingers. Repeat 10 times. Finish by massaging another round of circular strokes all around the face...."

A handful of beauty brands, including Shiseido, SK-II, La Mer, L'Oréal Paris and Giorgio Armani, are also promoting massage as part of a regular skincare routine. (Using their products, of course!) It seems a bit "out there," but they're actually on to something, since massage can help the active ingredients in moisturizers and serums to penetrate more deeply (which means they'll work even harder). Want to know more? Check out my friend Malena's story, which ran in ELLE Canada last year, on how facial massage can firm, smooth and sculpt.