Whenever I’m stressed or anxious, my face is usually one of the first places I feel tension building, especially around my brows and forehead. Turns out I’m not the only one. “We hold stress in our face because this is where we show our emotions,” says Liz Aigner, a licensed massage therapist and esthetician.
It’s not just stress and anxiety that appear on our faces. For instance, if you’re happy, surprised, or frustrated, the muscles in your face will also work to express those emotions—all day, every day. That’s a lot of work, and all that repetition can cause strain, stress, and headaches over time, Aigner says. Facial massages can help with those issues because like the rest of our bodies, our faces can benefit from therapeutic touch.
Below, Aigner shares five easy face massage techniques to try for instant stress relief and overall calming. If done consistently, there are long-term and preventative benefits, especially for those who deal with headaches, sinus issues, and general face tension and tightness.
The best part? “These techniques can be tools for stimulating energy or grounding down after a long day,” Aigner says. In other words, you can use these face massage techniques when you’re feeling stressed or tense, but they’re particularly great after your nightly skincare routine or in the morning for an energy boost.
5 face massage techniques that help relieve built-up stress and anxiety
Brow squeeze and release
If you tend to carry tension in your brows specifically, add this face massage technique to your rotation ASAP. Here’s how to do it: “Using your pointer finger and thumb, pinch the brows starting from the center out to the temples,” Aigner says. “Lift and squeeze along the brows two to three times, squeezing gently and longer in areas you feel tension. Sweep along the brows three times after your last manipulation to release any lingering negative energies.”
Acupressure tension tamer
Don’t forget to give the spot between your brows some love too. To do so, Aigner instructs taking your pointer finger and placing it where your brows and nose meet. You should feel a small divot. This acupressure point is excellent for relieving headaches, sinus pressure, and stress, she says. Circle your finger three times clockwise, then three times counterclockwise. Lastly, press the spot three times. “Move slowly and intentionally,” Aigner says. She adds that you can use this same technique on the third eye at the center of the forehead to stimulate a sense of calm and awaken your third eye capabilities.
If rhythmic tapping makes you feel calm, you’ll love this face massage technique. Use the pads of all your fingers, except for your thumbs. Place them at the top of the cheekbones and start to lightly tap, moving outwards towards the ears. “This technique is lovely for balancing the central nervous system and uplifting your energy when feeling sluggish,” Aigner says. Repeat three to six times for relief.
For this face massage technique, ensure you don’t have any products or oils on your face. (You’ll need to lift and grab the skin, and products will make the skin too slippery.) Start at the jaw and use your thumb and pointer finger to gently pinch and lift the skin while simultaneously rolling upward on the cheek up to the eye or temple to release tension and increase circulation. “Lift the face tissue with the thumbs while guiding it with the pointer finger grip,” Aigner says. “As you roll, you’re pushing and pulling to create that ‘roll’ or ‘wave’ effect on the cheek.” Then repeat on the other side.
As with a cup of tea or a cozy blanket, there’s just something about warmth that is so, so soothing. This face massage technique puts this concept into practice and you can do it anywhere, anytime. Start by rubbing your hands together for about 10 seconds to create heat and friction. Once your hands are warmed up, place them over your eyes, forehead, the back of your neck, or wherever else you feel tension. Gntly press heat into the area. “This technique helps with increasing blood flow to stagnant areas, stimulates a sense of well-being, and grounds energy when it feels chaotic,” Aigner says. Repeat as many times as you’d like.