A facial isn't complete without this add-on

Why the most important part of a facial might surprise you.

When spas are attempting to lure you to try a new facial treatment, their sales pitch usually focuses on the designer brands behind the cleansers and creams or a high-tech machine that can turn back the hands of time. But most aestheticians will tell you that one vital part of the treatment rarely gets mentioned at all: The facial massage.

Dr. Ranjan Kapoor, the Spa & Wellness Director at Six Senses Yao Noi in Thailand, insists that the massage is the most important part of a facial treatment, especially if you’re looking to combat the appearance of fine lines and other signs of aging. “A massage can improve blood circulation on facial muscles and help in the production of collagen and elastin muscle fibers,” Dr. Kapoor points out.

The anti-aging perk is but one of many advantages: Therapists administer all sorts of massage techniques that correspond with specific skincare benefits. For example, a lymphatic draining — a light-touch massage that’s meant to rid the skin of toxins and excess water — is included in most facials at AWAY Spa in Austin, Texas not only because it reduces puffiness but also because it helps boost the immune system, which means less breakouts and blemishes.

Virginia Bryan, one of the top aestheticians at AWAY, says the massage is actually necessary to take full advantage of the high-end products used during a facial. “Massaging the skin helps stimulate blood flow,” Bryan explains. “This opens up the pores, which increases the skin’s ability to absorb the serums and moisturizers.”

And Dr. Kapoor reminds us that the face is a complex network of pressure points, most of which we don’t ever use in daily life. “There are 300 pressure points on the face that relate to every part of the body,” he says. “So when you have a good facial massage you impact every organ of the body in a good way.”

Here, six spas with facials where the massage is the star of the show:

reparative caviar and oxygen quench at the cornelia spa at the surrey, nyc

Facials at this posh spa come with a four-step massage ritual that includes a lymphatic drainage, a positive chipPressure point massage, an ultra-lifting anti-gravity massage, and the hematite stone eye therapy. For this specific treatment, the anti-gravity massage is performed with the therapist facing the client, which allows for deeper, longer strokes that can help firm and lift the skin.
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a-list facial at the away spa in w, austin

This 90-minute treatment has a thorough lymphatic massage where the therapist lightly pulls the skin towards the neckline to the rid face of toxins. In addition, a Marma-point massage is also administered, using a technique influenced by practices originating in Eastern India, where massaging specific points of the face can stimulate muscle tone and blood flow.
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signature lomi facial at the moana lani spa, a heavenly spa by westin, honolulu

Featuring the basics of the traditional lomi massage—an ancient Hawaiian massage technique—this facial boasts 17 different massage moves (accompanied with a fragrant coconut oil) that addresses various skincare issues such as wrinkles and fine lines while also strengthening the muscles in your face.
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emerginc facial at miraval life in balance spa, tucson

This 80-minute treatment addresses dryness, sun damage and signs of aging partly with the help of a thorough acupressure massage. At Miraval, this pressure point massage is administered twice during the treatment while applying the vitamin-rich Complexion Perfection serum.
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jade stone facial at the spa at mandarin oriental, nyc

This new treatment was designed by Dr. Ping Zhang, a licensed acupuncturist and certified herbalist with a PhD in Oriental Medicine, who shaped the jade herself to fit the contours of the face and neck. An incredibly relaxing section sees the therapist lightly massage the stones (some are warmed, others are cool) along the face’s meridian system, which connects skin, muscle and sinews. The treatment detoxifies and strengthens the body’s natural anti-aging abilities.
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anti-aging facial at six senses yao noi, thailand

Previously named the Thai Silk Facial because it uses natural silk cocoons to exfoliate and massage the skin, this service relies on the 12 amino acids in a cocoon to truly improve the quality of the skin. This means adding elasticity, reducing wrinkles and repairing damage caused by sun exposure.
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