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Facial Lymphatic Drainage

By Jodi Cohen

Embarrassing confession – I was starting to notice some undesirable signs of aging, including a less than attractive double chin and turkey neck.

I decided to explore natural solutions including facial lymphatic drainage – a non-invasive technique which activates blood circulation, increases blood flow, generates heat to the connective tissue, reduces inflammation and releases the fatty acids and toxins that can accumulate in the neck area and present as a double chin.

As you may know, your lymphatic system is responsible for collecting and removing excess fluid found between your cells. When lymph is congested, fluid retention can contribute to a double chin or sagging skin.  In fact, research conducted by Osaka University found that impaired function of dermal lymphatic vessels lead to accumulation of subcutaneous fat, which ultimately causes “sagging” of the skin.

Enhancing lymphatic function in the neck can help to naturally reverse double chins and sagging skin on the neck. More specifically, facial lymphatic drainage mimics the circulation of the lymphatic vessels that reduces fat by sending fat residue and fluids into the bloodstream where it is metabolized and converted into urine or sweat. Facial lymphatic drainage also counteracts the flaccidity caused by the loss of that fat.


What is Facial Lymphatic Drainage?

Facial lymphatic drainage involves massaging specific lymph nodes that are located just below the skin of the face and neck to help improve the flow of the lymphatic system so that it slims the face by eliminating fluid retention and toxins, improving blood circulation and reducing inflammation.

Tissues around the face and the neck can become inflamed when circulation slows and lymph and fluid accumulate.  Facial lymphatic drainage is known to help decrease lymph congestion and increase circulation and drainage, which decreases facial swelling and inflammation.

The neck has a high concentration of lymph nodes.  In fact, of the approximately 600 lymph nodes in the body, and 200 of those are in the neck.  By stimulating and massaging these lymph nodes, excess fluid drains out of the facial and neck areas, positively impacting both muscles and subcutaneous fat in the skin, resulting in a more lifted and youthful appearance.

Research on the cosmetic benefits of facial lymphatic drainage attested to “lifting and tightening results”.  Similar research found that “massage-induced changes of subcutaneous fat tissues and facial expression muscles were apparent.”


Lymph Nodes in the Face and Neck

Manual lymph drainage is one of the easiest, most effective ways to sculpt your jawline and reduce sagging skin around the neck  Specifically, the following three main lymph nodes in the face and neck benefit from gentle massage:

Subauricular gland lymph nodes: Located behind the earlobe, this is considered the lymphatic outlet of the face. The lymph nodes in the subauricular glands connect the chin and neck. By massaging the chin to the position behind the ear, it can help the lymph flow and make the facial contours clearer, while firming and thinning the face.

Neck lymph nodes: As a lymphatic channel, it is located in the neck and is the most important lymphatic system connecting the head and body. Through massage, it can drain the facial lymph waste fluid downward. Massage the lymph in the neck frequently to return the facial skin to normal metabolic state.

Clavicle lymph nodes: Located on the slightly depressed area above the collarbone.  Near the left clavicle is where the veins are connected. Eventually all the lymph is collected here, and then flows from the veins to the kidneys and is excreted from the body. Since lymph follows gravity, it’s important to open up the lymph nodes along the neck and collarbone first before the lymph in the face can properly drain.


How To Drain Facial Lymph

Facial lymphatic drainage is done manually, using very gentle massage (with hands or tools like a gua sha) and essential oils or moisturizer to reduce friction and pulling of the skin.

Most of the lymph nodes in the face and neck are located directly under the skin, so gently and lightly massaging specific points can help drain fluid and calm inflammation in that area.

Your lymph moves slowly. The valves in lymph vessels open and close about six to twelve times per minute moving that fluid. We want to be slow, light, and intentional. Not hard and fast. Lymph strokes use the palm of your hands as much as possible—or the soft pads of your fingers. This is how you’ll achieve the nurturing and comforting response associated with lymph massage. You want to massage the fluid in one direction: toward the lymph nodes, not in circles.

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.

Step 1: Apply essential oils like Fascia Release™ blend and Lymph™ blend on your neck and clavicle area to help enhance circulation and promote the movement of lymph fluid. Essential oils in carrier oil, like Vibrant Blue Oils blends, give your skin a little bit of slip so that the your hands can glide more easily.

Step 2: Place the flats of your index and middle fingertips on top of the clavicle bone on either side of your neck just above your collarbone and let your fingers fall into the ridge. Keep your hands soft and relaxed. Use a light pressure on your skin – just enough to gently stretch the skin. Begin lightly pumping downward in gentle butterfly like strokes strokes toward your collarbone. This motion helps lymph fluid drain back to your heart. You can massage one side at a time or both sides at the same time. You may find it easier to cross your hands if you are doing both at the same time.

Step 3: Start to massage sternocleidomastoid muscle, located on the area of your neck that is close to your shoulder where your clavicle bone connects with the sides of your neck.  Begin gently massaging with strokes that look like 2 letter “J”s facing one another. This massage helps stimulate (pump) the vessels  at the side of your neck.  Once you’ve stimulated the lymph nodes, you can start to clear the fluid by  gently massaging the neck in a downward motion.

Step 4: Place the tips of your index and middle fingers on one side of your neck behind the ear lobes (on the mastoid bone), right below your jawline, and move downward toward your collarbone while making small backward J motions (toward the center of your neck). These rhythmic, smooth and circular movements help activate the lymphatic circulatory system and support healthy drainage.

Facial lymphatic drainage begins from the neck, because the submaxillary and internal jugular chain nodes are located there. Also in the neck are the jugular veins that receive the lymph so that it is drained through the deep cervical lymph nodes; in conjunction with the submental lymph nodes, anterior cervical lymph nodes and superficial cervical lymph nodes.

Repeat on the other side of your neck. This helps open lymphatic pathways and drive the fluid toward the lymph nodes so that it can better drain.

Step 5: Glide the same two fingers sideways along your jaw, moving outward along your jawline toward your hairline, then down your neck toward your collarbone. Repeat the same motion (sideways, then downward) as you move up your face, gliding your hands along your cheek. Continue this until you reach your forehead. Repeat on the other side.


Tips for Lymphatic Drainage 101

  • Your touch needs to be very light, so light your mind will tell you it can’t possibly be effective, especially if you’re used to deep massage. However, 70% of the lymphatic vessels are located just underneath the skin. If you use too much pressure, you bypass these vessels. The lighter the touch, the more powerful the effect on the lymphatic system.
  • You’re not gliding across the skin. Rather, you’re very lightly stretching the skin. The lymphatic vessels are attached to the skin with small elastic fibers. When you stretch the skin, you’re manually pumping the lymphatic vessels simultaneously.
  • The stretch will always be in the direction that the lymph flows normally, and it’s important to lift your hands off the skin at the end of the stretch. Otherwise, you’re simply moving the lymph back and forth.
  • The lymphatic rhythm is slow. Take three full seconds to stretch the skin. Release your touch completely for three seconds. Then, repeat.


Essential Oils to Support Facial Lymphatic Drainage

Essential oils possess stimulatory and anti-inflammatory properties that can help support healthy circulation and lymphatic drainage are stimulating oils which support. The following blends may help support facial lymphatic drainage.


Lymphatic drainage can be enhanced with the application of stimulatory essential oils that can be topically applied to congested lymph nodes around the face and neck. If you think of the body like a hydraulics system where congested tissue downstream prevents optimal flow upstream, congested lymphatic vessels in the neck will impede drainage of toxins from the face and jaw.

Unfortunately, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump and lymphatic fluid can accumulate and stagnate (learn more about the Lymphatic System here). To enhance lymphatic flow and drainage, generously apply Lymph™ around the sides of the neck to relieve congestion, improve drainage and enhance your physical appearance.

Fascia Release™ 

The Fascia Release™ blend helps support lymph drainage by helping to stimulate the lymphatic system, release adhesions and fascial restriction, increase circulation, decrease swelling in the tissue. By supporting the fluid dynamics of the fascial system, this blend may help ease a congested lymphatic system and decrease swelling.

As you know, fascia lies just below the skin so topically applying essential oils onto the skin allows for easy and immediate access to the fascia.  The skin is your largest organ and is relatively permeable to fat-soluble substances like essential oils which easily penetrate layers of restricted fascia, creating warmth to break up congestion, increasing circulation, lymphatic drainage and mobilizing adhered tissue.

The essential oils in the Fascia Release™ blend are uniquely formulated to unravel deeply held tensions, constrictions and energetic blockages in your tissues to improve blood and lymphatic circulation and tension held in the body (organs, muscles, tissues) or the mind.

To release fascia and support healthy facial lymph drainage, liberally apply Fascia Release™ around the jaw/neck/face.


Your vagus nerve starts at the base of the brain and travel down the neck on both sides of the body.  Infections in that vicinity –like heavy metals, pathogens, infections, viruses or environmental toxins that drain from the mouth along your trigeminal nerve and intersect with the vagus nerve in the neck – can contribute to congestion in the lymph and compromise drainage.

Topically applying Parasympathetic® blend on the vagal nerve behind the on the neck can help clear congestion for optimal drainage from the neck and the face.


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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.