The Perfect Way to Rejuvenate and Detoxify Your Skin

Perhaps you’re not getting much sleep, feel stressed out or haven’t been drinking enough water. Now it’s on show for everyone to see—a puffy face, dark circles, dull skin or breakouts. Our bodies are constantly detoxifying, but even the strongest systems can become overburdened, and the results often show. One secret to keeping your body’s natural detox processes humming along is to boost lymph flow. Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is known for its gentle massage strokes and dramatic results. Try it, and get ready to love the fresh face you see in the morning.

What Is Lymphatic Drainage?

Lymph is a fluid-like substance made up of water, protein and white blood cells that flows just below the skin, collecting toxins and delivering nutrients. Stress, inflammation, poor diet, lack of exercise and surgery can make lymph flow sluggish, allowing toxins to hang around in the body too long. The result is often puffiness, dull skin, breakouts, dark circles, water retention, or tenderness and swelling around the lymph nodes.

Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymph system has no pump to move it regularly. Instead it relies on external factors such as exercise or massage to keep it flowing. Since many lymph nodes reside near your clavicle, under your chin and along the sides of your neck, a facial that includes lymphatic massage can improve your complexion and immune health more than surface facial treatments.

How It Works

“I think of it as a closed system comprised of a series of interconnected rivers and streams that bring all the nourishment to and all the waste from every cell in the body,” says aesthetician and licensed MLD practitioner Marywynn Ryan of Skin By Marywynn in Portland, Oregon. “I look for ‘beaver dams’ that are impeding the flow. I start by opening the ‘flood gates’ which are located behind the clavicle. The lymph leaves there and goes directly to the heart, which then pumps it to the respiratory and excretory systems,” she says. Often clients will feel their heart rate increase with just a few gentle strokes, but since the massage uses a very gentle touch, the whole experience is quite relaxing—and produces dramatic results.

If regular facials are not in your budget, you can get your lymph moving at home via daily exercise and a bit of self-massage. Using your fingers to create a gentle pulse behind your clavicle, along your jawline and around your ears can boost oxygen flow, move lymph and make your skin look more radiant.