What Is The Japanese Face Massage And Does It Work? | CoolJapan
Face rollers and massagers are all the rage right now in the West. But like many other trends, Japan has an answer: Shiatsu, a massaging technique using one’s fingers to de-puff the skin. The idea behind it is to expel bad qi (or chi) — a.k.a. ‘energy’ — by activating our tsubo (pressure points) and get accompanying health benefits.

It has gained a lot of traction in the beauty community despite its efficacy not being studied enough. There are even some aesthetic clinics offering it.

There are also a variety of ways to do it, popularised by makeup artists and aestheticians. But how does it work? And is there truth to its claims?

How it works

While the principle behind face massages is to clear out your qi, a more scientific benefit is to make sure your lymph nodes don’t get blocked. This is because lymph node blockage can lead to “a dull and puffy complexion”. By massaging the skin, not only does it make sure your lymph nodes loosen up but also allows for better blood flow, eases muscle tension, and triggers collagen production.

How to do it

Ready to try it? Unfortunately, it’s not just running your fingers up and down your face muscles hoping for results. You need to find the perfect face oil, serum or face cream to apply prior to the massage first. This is to ensure that your fingers will slide a lot more smoothly as you do the massage instead of just stretching bare skin.

Next, pick a method that works for you. As mentioned, there are now several ways to practice Japanese face massages. However, the most popular way to do it is the Asahi method, usually cross-referenced as the late Japanese beautician Yukuko Tanaka’s massage.

The massage involves a lot of upward and circular movements from the neck to the temples, as well as stimulating presses on the narrower corners of the face. The method is done leisurely, with the entire massage lasting from five to 10 minutes depending on your strokes.

Giving it a try for a month

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, which definitely affected how my skin looks. My skin looked noticeably dull, tired, and pale especially right after waking up. I’ve also trimmed my skincare routine to deal with breakouts.

After reading about the transformative results of the Japanese face massage, I decided to give it a try.

Here’s the truth: I’m a bit impatient about lengthy skincare methods. This made me wonder if I’ll finish testing this massage. At first it was a bit confusing because I have to keep referring to the video to remember the steps. But after three days or so, I started managing without constantly pausing and playing the video. In a week, I was able to do it almost on reflex even if I’m listening to music or watching a movie. Since mornings are typically busy for me, I do it at night.

Japanese Face Massage: Does it work?

 (Photo from: Angélica Echeverry via Unsplash)

What’s interesting about the Japanese face massage is it allows me to control the pressure I put into the massage, unlike when I get facials in aesthetic salons. I’m usually too shy to tell the aesthetician if she’s pressing my face too hard. With this method, I’m able to put just the right tension.

Since I’ve had fewer opportunities to look at my face in the mirror (since we’re always staying indoors due to the pandemic) I’m sometimes caught off-guard when I feel a bump, a dry patch or a weird abrasion on my face. By doing this, I’m able to feel the improvement in my skin’s texture on a daily basis.

Of course there’s the relaxation factor, too. It helped me pay more attention to my skincare routine and actually make time for it instead of hastily doing it.

Did it work?

Drum roll — the answer is a resounding yes!

Even if I’m still dealing with sleeplessness, there’s definitely a great improvement on my skin in the past month. I didn’t change any of my skincare products so I can attest to the massage being the game-changer.

Japanese Face Massage review before and after

(Left) Taken over a month ago, dealing with breakouts with an anti-acne treatment. (Right) Taken recently after a month of doing the Japanese face massage. Notice the glow and natural flush on my cheeks?

My skin feels a lot softer and fresher even right after waking up. My parents have also been complimenting me lately about my face, both of them wondering if I was using new skincare products. One time, my dad even asked me if I have a base product on because of how smooth my face looked.

I still don’t have wrinkles despite being in my late 20s so it’s hard for me to tell if it works in that department. Overall, I liked the results that I got by doing this mini-experiment.

That said, there's no question that I’ll keep doing the Japanese face massage. My skin is at its best condition since puberty, so I recommend doing it.