November 09, 2018 5 min read 6 Comments
Meet lymphatic drainage: a simple yet highly effective part of your skincare routine that helps with all skin types and concerns. It nourishes and supports your skin's natural functions for health and vibrance. You can get all the benefits of lymph drainage with your hands and a good oil cleanser, a high quality natural fiber dry brush and a soothing toner, a jade roller, or even a Gua Sha tool.
Before you go and haphazardly smoosh, brush, and/or rub a rock all over your face, know that lymph drainage does not work if done incorrectly (and can do more harm than good if you botch it). Proper technique is everything when it comes to lymphatic drainage. That's where we come in.
Here we share the benefits of lymph drainage, give you a mini crash course on understanding the lymphatic system, and give you detailed how-to instructions and videos on lymph drainage massage and dry brushing techniques for optimum benefits.
While it might be tempting to skip the background and go straight to the how-to, we highly recommend at least reading section #2 - Background: Our Lymphatic System - before watching the tutorials. When you understand how the lymphatic system works, the steps will make much more sense, and you won't need to worry about rote memorization.
Here's the biggest thing I want you to remember: any lymph drainage practice has to start by opening up through the neck and collarbones first - or it doesn't work! We're here to help you so you can get all the benefits of lymph drainage without any of the guesswork.
The lymphatic system runs parallel to the circulatory system. Instead of circulating blood, it circulates lymph, a colorless fluid containing white blood cells, that bathes the tissues and drains through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream. Think of it like one of the "janitors" of our bodies.
Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system does not have a pump. It relies on us physically moving (exercise, especially yoga) and physically manipulating (targeted lymphatic drainage) it to circulate. The lymph system does have lymph nodes, which help to filter the lymph (but not pump it) and produce new lymphocytes (new "janitors").
Lymph doesn't drain always drain properly on its own - sometimes lymph nodes become "congested" and/or swollen, affecting the flow of lymph in its vicinity. On the face and neck specifically, this can lead to: clogged pores, acne, slowed healing, dull skin, dehydrated skin, and puffy skin. The vast majority of skin concerns - no matter skin type, age, or tone - can benefit from lymphatic drainage.
When performing any kind of lymphatic drainage, you have to open up nodes lower down (since lymph follows gravity) before you can properly drain lymph above. When it comes to the face & neck, we must to open up the lymph nodes along the neck and collarbone first before the lymph in the face can properly drain.
Lymphatic drainage quiets our sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight response) and engages our parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest). Any lymphatic drainage practice is contraindicated if you have a fever. You should also not do a lymphatic drainage practice if you have any upper respiratory infection. Also, if you have a heart condition, please be gentle with these practices.
LYMPH NODES IN THE FACE + NECK
When it comes to the face in particular, everything connects to lymph nodes around the ears and then flushes down the neck.
That means: always start lymph drainage by opening up along the collarbones and neck first. Forgetting about your neck is the #1 mistake people make with any kind of lymph drainage or facial massage routine.
Best done at nighttime since this practice is grounding and relaxing. It can take 20+ minutes to do a full facial massage. If you don't have that kind of time, at least focus on the neck for 2-5 minutes.
Note: if you cause any pinkness or redness in the skin while massaging, you're using too much pressure and engaging the circulatory system, not the lymphatic system. If your goal is to drain lymph, your skin should not look flushed.
Best done in the morning since this practice is stimulating. Plan to shower after you dry brush since you don't want to brush the skin after it has been softened by the warm water. It takes about 5 minutes to fully dry brush your face.
Note: dry brushing is NOT for exfoliation. If you cause any pinkness or redness in the skin while dry brushing, you're brushing too hard and engaging the circulatory system, not the lymphatic system. If your goal is to drain lymph, your skin should not look flushed.
THE NEXT LEVEL OF DRY BRUSHING: USE A FACIAL OIL
You can always dry brush on a bare face, but incorporating a facial oil can improve absorption of your skincare products and potentially boost the benefits of your lymph drainage routine.
You've got a couple options if you're ready to upgrade your dry brush routine:
CLEANING YOUR BRUSH
Repeat after me: I will never wet my brush. I clean my brush with powder.
The best way to clean your dry brush is to dip it into arrowroot powder, diatomaceous earth, or bentonite clay, work it into the bristles, and then shake and tap it out. You can find those ingredients at most grocery stores or health food stores.
To keep your brush as clean as possible, keep it stored in a drawer. You can even save the box it comes in and store it inside the box inside your drawer. Treat it like the fancy thing it is.
Until next time,
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