The lymphatic system is part of your body’s immune system, and it plays a vital role in helping you get rid of toxins and other waste. If your lymphatic drainage is sluggish and slow, you’ll likely notice signs of that build-up of lymph in your skin – it usually shows up as dull, tired-looking, unhealthy skin, dark circles around the eyes, and puffiness or bloating in the face.
Ideally, we want to support the lymphatic system and encourage good drainage by doing a bit of lymphatic drainage massage each day. In this post, I’m going to show you some gentle techniques you can use.
You don’t need to wait until you notice the signs of sluggish drainage in your skin – doing these techniques regularly will help to avoid those issues and keep your skin looking bright and healthy.
The reason I’m talking about using a gentle touch here is that the lymphatic system is just beneath the epidermis (the top layer of skin). So, when we’re working with lymphatic drainage, we don’t want to press hard. We’re not trying to work down into the muscle. We just need a light, gentle touch to encourage drainage.
This also feels beautifully soothing, so it’s a relaxing form of massage to do at any time of day.
I encourage you to spend at least a minute on each of the techniques in this post – the whole routine should take about seven minutes in total. But you can do longer on each move too. These techniques are so gentle, most can be done 50 to 100 times.
Of course, if you don’t have time to do longer, it is fine to do less too. I always encourage you to start small with face yoga so that you can develop a sustainable practice which fits into your busy routine. Some is always better than none.
And if you prefer to follow a video, you can also find this sequence on my YouTube channel.
Make sure you have clean hands and a clean face before you start this routine. Apply a few drops of the Fusion by Danielle Collins Pro Lift Moisturising serum – this gives a lovely glide to your skin and is packed with high-performing, natural ingredients.
As you work through the routine, remember to keep a focus on your breath. Lengthen your inhale and exhale, allowing your abdomen to rise and fall as you breathe through your nose. Breathing deeply is a great way to support the lymphatic system.
1. Sides of Neck
Using all your fingers, gently smooth down the sides of your neck. Be careful not to drag at the skin and remember that the lymphatic system is just below the epidermis, so we’re looking for a lovely, light touch here.
Continue breathing deeply as you do this massage. You may like to close your eyes too so that you can enjoy the calming, gentle touch of your hands.
Next, rest your fingertips on your collarbone and gently pulse them – pressing lightly down and then releasing.
It probably doesn’t feel like you’re doing much here, but this simple massage technique is excellent for lymphatic drainage.
3. Ears to Collarbone
For our next technique, you need to do what I call ‘Star Trek hands’. What you’re trying to do is create a V-shape with your hands, so that your ring finger and little finger are on one side and your middle and index fingers are together on the other side, with a gap in the centre.
It can feel a bit strange to do this at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.
Keeping your hands in that position, bring them up to your ears. Place your ring and little fingers in front and your middle and index finger behind, so your ear sits in the V in the middle.
Then, gently stroke down from your ear, down the side of your neck, and onto your collarbone. Return your hands to your ears and repeat – ideally 50 to 100 times.
We’re moving up to the eyes now. When we do lymphatic drainage massage on the face the eyes and the neck area are our main focus – these are the key areas for lymphatic drainage.
Using the tip of your ring finger, gently smooth around the eyes, starting beneath your eyebrows and working down, across, and back up.
The skin here is very delicate, so we want to be as light and gentle as possible to avoid dragging at it. That’s why I recommend using your ring finger for this massage – we naturally press lighter with this finger than if we were using the index finger.
Again, remember to use your breath here too.
Since the eye area is so delicate, we want to do just 20 to 50 repetitions here.
When you have finished the circular massage, bring the tip of your ring finger to the drainage point at the inner corner of your eye and gently pulse.
Take three fingers from each hand onto the skin underneath your eyes, just above your cheekbones. Resting your fingertips on your skin, gently pulse. Do up to 50 of these.
Again, this is such a simple technique, but it is very effective at reducing puffiness and dark circles under the eyes.
6. Nose, Ears, Neck
For our final move, bring your index fingers to either side of the bridge of your nose. Stroke down and across beneath your eyes, come up to your temples, round behind your ears, and then down the sides of your neck to your collarbone.
Remember to keep your touch light and gentle as you continue with this movement, ideally doing 50 to 100 of these.
We’re all finished. Bring your fingers back to your collarbones for a final few pulses and then relax.
I’ve really focused on lymphatic drainage with these techniques, which will, of course, help to brighten the skin across your whole face.
But if you’d like to do more lifting, brightening, and energising facial massage, do explore the techniques I show on my YouTube channel or in my two books, Danielle Collins Face Yoga and the Face Yoga Journal. There’s plenty there to help you build your face yoga routine.