Lymphatic drainage; it doesn't sound sexy but it is!
Updated: Dec 6, 2021
Hey! I am so happy to have you visiting me today!
Welcome to my blog, where I cover the must-know information about skin, the best skincare practices to participate in, the products worth investing in, and more! I love having this outlet for you in addition to my Instagram and podcast where you'll always find the most interesting, important, and of course relevant information possible!
Today's blog entry is specifically about the lymphatic system and how it correlates to the skin. I'm not going to go into all the intense, science-y, facts, or talk about how the lymph impacts the entire body; there's just too much to learn, and honestly, I'm only specialized in the skin! I have been in some courses that have talked about the lymph and lymphatic system, and I've done my own research, but I sure as heck don't know everything.... so I am just taking the opportunity here to share what I do know and how this information can help your skin (and overall health too)! It is important to understand that lymphatic drainage benefits way more than just your skin, and lymphatic massage can be done for the whole body as lymph nodes are found in our necks, underarms, abdomen, and thighs. Remember I am not a doctor, so if you think you may have lymphedema or any pain that could be relieved from lymphatic drainage after reading this blog, your doctor is who you should be in contact with! On the flip side, if you know a lot about the lymphatic system or know someone who does, feel free to get in contact with me! I would be more than happy to post one of their published articles and or have them as a guest on my podcast!
First off, it's important that you understand why lymph is in fact sexy and why the heck it's on a beauty blog, so let's learn briefly what is lymph and the lymphatic system.
So lymph itself is a colorless, watery, fluid that flows through your body going back into the bloodstream. The lymphatic system in which this fluid travels is part of the circulatory and immune systems. The main purpose of the lymphatic system is to keep away infection, get rid of unwanted waste and toxins, and balance the body. It's often said that the lymph nodes (which are everywhere throughout your body) are the body's natural filtration system. So naturally, if a system like this (which is very important) does not work properly or efficiently we run into issues such as puffiness, swelling,(lymphedema) illness, infection, blockage, cancer, chronic tiredness/fatigue, and even skin concerns such as dull complexion, skin darkness (specifically and mainly around the eyes), and dry patches (psoriasis, eczema), etc.
The lymphatic system is comprised of lymph (the clear, watery, fluid), lymphatic vessels (the pathway the fluid is collected in to try to bring back to the bloodstream), lymph nodes (home of the collected cells through the body called lymphocytes which are located throughout the body), lymph tissue and of course organs (because organs are important in assisting the body to detox using organs like your spleen, liver, kidneys, and skin).
There are things you can do to maintain your overall health that specifically assist your lymphatic system, such as drinking LOTS of water to help the body naturally detox and get the organs working and dumping properly. Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet is also important, as the healthier you are the better your body operates, it's just common sense! Apple Cider Vinegar is also recommended or suggested (what can't ACV fix these days?!). The idea is that apple cider can bind to toxins and assist in the removal of said toxins and that the apple cider can attach to mucus to help clear out the lymph nodes! No wonder Apple Cider Vinegar is suggested for so many things! Regular exercise is also important. Again, this is something you hear very frequently, but it's recommended specifically to get your blood flowing throughout the body which helps to encourage natural detoxification and healthy blood supply and nutrition. Deep breathing, mindful breaths, and meditation will also help pump the blood through the system; a calm healthy relaxed system always operates best. Anybody that operates in fight or flight mode often will commonly have internal issues like bloating and swelling. In order to help combat those issues, taking care of our lymphatic system is important! Another common recommendation that I can't say enough: AVOID HARSH CHEMICALS AND HARMFUL INGREDIENTS! I don't even need to explain this one, but of course, for you, I will! When you apply anything topically your skin absorbs the ingredients and immediately carries it to your bloodstream, and then your bloodstream feeds everywhere in your body. If your blood has toxins in it, unfortunately, our bodies don't graciously filter this out for us... so then all the toxins are fed to our entire bodies. When passing through it influences our neurological function, our immunity strength, overall development, and much more. So let's be mindful of not only our habits and what we consume, but also what we apply to our biggest organ, our skin. I know, this seems like a lot to care for our bodies. It seems that there are always new things we need to consider doing and not doing in order to optimize our health, and I understand that it can be overwhelming. That being said, if you want help to simplify some healthy routines and get healthy products in your hands, I am beyond happy to help with this transition!
Okay, so now that you understand this is a very important system that we have within our wicked cool bodies, let's learn about how the lymphatic system pertains to the skin. Our lymphatic system helps detox our body and feed into our blood supply which directly correlates to skin health in many ways. One specific way is found under the eyes. Darkness, puffiness, and general swelling are common complaints many people have. Lymphatic drainage massage and caring for your lymphatic system a little more can really help alleviate these symptoms and provide some awesome results! I'll get into some techniques soon, don't worry. Lymphatic drainage does occur naturally in the body, but soemtimes it needs some assistance, which is where lymphatic massage comes in. It's important because as mentioned previously, lymphatic massage improves the circulatory system (which comes with its own detoxifying benefits), but also as blood feeds the skin, encourages cell regeneration and collagen production. Blood has many nutrients important for the skin that provide a healthy glow and skin complexion! This will help reduce the severity and depth of wrinkles, dullness, and even texture that is within the skin. A healthy blood flow and proper detoxification will also elevate congestion, acne, pimples, and blackheads. Congestion within the skin is also quite common when the lymphatic system is bummed up. This is where that extra assistance is super helpful! A healthy functioning system creates a healthy functioning body which creates healthy functioning skin!
I am sure you have heard the term lymphatic and lymphatic massage before this blog, which is likely why you stumbled upon this entry... But maybe you don't exactly know what that massage technique looks like, maybe you never had one, or maybe you have had them and this is just opening your eyes to many more benefits of them! Lymphatic drainage massage can be done by a professional or right at home with a few tips and tricks. The important thing to know is that lymphatic massage is done very lightly, its light feather motions stroking the skin, that can also turn into tapping and little pulsations. This is a technique done because the lymphatic system doesn't have its own pump like the heart does to pump blood through the body, so sometimes when the lymphatic system is struggling it needs some assistance. This is why the light pumping technique is used. I feel like it's even more like a tap than a pump because "pump" makes me feel like it would be an aggressive harsh push, where I want to make sure the movements and technique you are using when trying this at home are superficial. You always want to flow downwards when draining and detoxing the skin. I have some videos that I will be posting to show this as well, don't worry! In the meantime, you can continue your gentle sweep behind your ears or on your cheeks, down the jawline, across the clavicle, and down your arm. Make this a smooth and seamless extension! Its important to keep your breathing slow and calm through this practice as well, not only because it will enhance your experience but because as we learned earlier this helps with the movement and flow of the lymph through the vessels and detoxifying the lymph nodes.
Let's make this more simple, I am going to provide some step-by-step instructions so you can refer to this and follow along at home!
Clean your hands and cleanse your face. You always want to do any massage with a clean face
You don't need any oils or serums for this massage, your clean hands and face will do the trick!
Start by taking a deep slow calm breath, get in tune with your breath first so your mind and body, and internal systems can experience a moment of stillness.
Of course, get comfortable with whatever position you are going to do this massage in. This is so you have no distractions through this beneficial self love practice
Start with VERY light feathering motions passing over the forehead, cheeks, chin, neck, clavicle, and shoulders. Do this a few times hands passing over the skin. This is to introduce touch and blood flow to begin
Use your fingertips too, by putting them inside your clavicles and using a very gentle push or pump (literally press lightly and release press and release). Do this ten times
Let's go to the side/back of our neck. We are going to place our hands and fingers flat on either side of your neck and you are doing a light pull down from behind your ear. Do this ten times
Move to the back of your neck and do the exact same thing. Do this ten times
Place your flat hands in front of your ears and go in a downwards motion, again keeping your pressure very light so you are not dragging or pulling the skin. Do this three times
Now lift your hands to be flat on your forehead so your fingertips are touching in the center of your forehead. You can apply slight pressure when you get to the center of your forehead, then lift the pressure and move your hands down past your forehead, down past the front of your ears, down your jaw, down your neck, and past the clavicle. Do this gently and slowly three times.
We are making our way to our eyes. Now with VERY light pressure (lightest pressure possible!) take your ring finger and go to the outer corners of your eyes, then move your way closer to your nose. Do this three times, then repeat the same motion slightly below where you were just working. Do this three times. It will help get lymph moving under the eye to decrease puffiness.
Now that we have finished working our way from the outside to the inside, continue and go from the inner corner of your eyes and lightly go towards to temple again with super light pressure. When you get to your temple, add a little more pressure, then hold and lightly go downwards past the front of the ear down to your collar bone. Do this three times
Use your two hands and do a peace sign or a V shape using your pointer and middle finger turn the pads of your fingers to your face and place the V around the eye (the middle finger goes in the center of the eye and the pointer finger goes to the outside of the eye). Apply some pressure and release, apply pressure and release. Remember to do this at least 3 times. It's good to spend some time on the eye area.
With your hands horizontal and your finger tips pointing to your nose place your hands flat, apply light pressure to your cheeks and gently and lightly (without pulling your skin) go up towards your temple, pause, pulse and add light pressure and draw downwards with your hands staying flat in front of the ear. Continue passing and once you get to the clavicle, hold. The clavicle is the area you always want to focus on bringing your drainage to, you can continue past here but bring your light sweeps down at least to this point
Again using your pointer finger and middle finger, we are going to do a quick flicking motion at the nasal labal folds, this is very quick. You can always fan out your fingers to involve all fingers doing a quick sweeping/flicking motion
As we finish up, we are going to go back and focus on our neck. Start in front of your ears and use a light pressure pulse in circular motions and feather down draining, do this four times (don't forget to drain and continue into your clavicle)
Do this exact same motion and technique at the base of your neck and repeat this at your collarbone (light pulsing in circular motions and feathering some drainage)
TADA! Just like that you have completed and learned your basic home lymphatic massage! This is one way of doing it, but there are so many videos with different techniques so feel free to explore other moves as you master the technique and concepts!
You will likely need to clear your throat or swollow when doing this practice, that is normal! Don't forget to drink lots of water and fluids for the rest of the day (before and after lymphatic drainage is important)!
Depending on your health, your body, and of course the severity of what you are trying to mitigate, doing this treatment twice a week will work well. Professionals sometimes will even do this on their patients up to 4 times in one week. If you are doing an at-home treatment once-twice a week is lovely!
Of course, watching a video could be more beneficial and helpful, but regardless I hope these steps were helpful in addition to some videos!
After reviewing some step by step action and getting excited about adding this into your routine, something really important to know is the potential risks to lymphatic massage. We never want to do something that could be harmful, so please read this carefully to see if this massage technique is suitable for you. If you were to go somewhere professionally they would let you know and you would be filling out a consent form, but for the sake of you practicing this routine at home, this is really important for you to know! If you are someone who has congestive heart failure, blood clots, kidney problems, infections or circulation problems, swelling for no found reason, or any other severe health conditions you should consult your doctor first. If you have cancer and are going through active treatment or have previously had cancer and been treated, please do not do lymphatic massage over those treated areas. The last point to be aware of is that if you are pregnant, wait until after pregnancy to have this massage technique performed. Again, always play it safe and consult a doctor!
I hope this provided you with information that you were searching for! Here are some of my resources and some links you can browse through for some videos and further information:
Thank you so much for your time! Please refer this entry to a friend if you think they would have some benefit! Word of mouth is huge and helps me help more people!