How To Do Lymphatic Drainage: Face & Neck (with Video Tutorials)

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Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage (When Done Right): includes: dry brushing, manual lymphatic massage, jade rolling, and Gua Sha

  • Improves a wide variety of skin issues and concerns:  clogged pores, acne, slowed healing, dull skin, dehydrated skin, and puffy skin
  • Improves cellular turnover and elasticity
  • Improves overall glow and radiance
  • Speeds healing time for acne, eczema, and other skin traumas
  • Speeds fading time for dark spots
  • Minimizes the appearance of fine lines
  • Improves allergy symptoms that present in the face and neck (e.g. congestion, puffy/watery/itchy eyes, etc.)

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.

Background: Our Lymphatic System

Lymphatic System Bright Body

  • 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.


When it comes to the face in particular, everything connects to lymph nodes around the ears and then flushes down the neck. Province Apothecary - maker of Chelsea (and my) favorite dry brush - created this super helpful graphic.

Province Apothecary Facial Lymph Nodes

Lymph Drainage Products

Facial Lymphatic Massage

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.

Start by washing your hands! Apply either our Makeup Remover/Oil Cleanser or an Ayurvedic Facial Oil to lubricate the skin. Remember that you are not massaging the muscles, you're just massaging the skin and encouraging the lymph to move.

Use light, slow, pumping movements along the paths I've marked below.  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. Your skin should not look flushed in any way after you do facial massage.

To properly massage your face for lymphatic drainage,
click here for a downloadable PDF guide

    Products for Lymph Drainage

    Facial Dry Brushing

    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 and opened up by the warm water. It takes about 5 minutes to do a full dry brushing ritual on your face. Use a soft bristle brush (ideally natural fiber) and use very light, short "flicks" of the brush along the paths described and labeled below.

    Please 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. Your skin should not look flushed in any way after you dry brush.

    To properly dry brush your face,
    click here for a downloadable PDF guide.


    With the right facial oil, you can upgrade your dry brushing routine. 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 several options if you're ready to upgrade your dry brush routine!

    1. On a bare face, dry brush first, then apply a facial oil.
    2. Apply a facial oil first then dry brush.
    3. I don't recommend it, but you can apply a facial oil directly to your brush. IF you choose this option, keep in mind that it is very easy to over-apply the oils and therefore waste product - start sparing and using your (clean) hands to distribute the oils in the bristles. If you choose this method, you'll need to clean your brush more often.


    Don't play yourself (and your brush) by using shampoo or hand soap. The best way to clean your dry brush is to dip it into some arrowroot powder, diatomaceous earth, or bentonite clay, work it into the bristles, and then shake/brush out. You can usually 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.

    Products For Lymph Drainage


    Until next time,

    Gabi Day

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    • Looking for massage for head & neck post cancer

      Kim on
    • Is there a video yet? I’m really interested in that. I just heard that lymphatic drainage helps for all brain problems because it helps give your brain a clear pathway to drain toxins.

      Mary on
    • May I share this post & graphics (with credit to you) with my facial clients? It’s very useful and helpful. Thank you for posting! 😊

      Vicki Portune Hughes on
    • This was clear, and very helpful in running through the routine xx thank you louise

      Louise Oades on
    • Do you have a recipe for lymphatic body wash for Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients.

      Carol on

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