This unique internal facial massage technique can soften wrinkles and reduce sinus pressure, but how do you do it? Facialist Abigail James talks you through it.

If you think you don’t know what buccal facial massage is there is a high chance you will have actually seen it in action thanks to social media. Buccal facial massage (it’s also called intra-oral massage) is a massaging technique that is performed inside the mouth, rather than on top of the skin. By massaging internally you can stimulate lymphatic drainage and also engage with muscles that you can’t connect with externally.

What is a buccal massage?

Buccal massage is a method that’s been around for awhile and I trained in it over ten years ago. Thanks to social media, it has recently become popular again. Buccal involves using your thumb and fingers to massage the inside and outside of your mouth and cheeks. It’s particularly effective for those wanting to soften facial expression lines on the lower face, re-contour the nasolabial area, ease TMD (temporomandibular disorder) and relieve sinus discomfort. 

Does buccal face massage work?

It can be really effective. Especially for enhancing facial contour, softening smile lines, releasing muscle tension from teeth grinding and it’s great for relieving pain around the jaw.

Can I do buccal massage at home?

Absolutely, we can simplify it and build it into our home routine. Just don’t be overly aggressive with your movements. As you’ll be working on and inside your own face and mouth, you can perform Buccal without surgical gloves. If you went to a clinic the therapist would wear gloves. You’ll need a simple, non-aromatherapy oil such as rosehip seed, almond, coconut, olive or sea buckthorn. Just the tiniest amount (two to three drops) is enough.

How to do a buccal facial massage

Apply oil to your lower face, mouth, chin and cheeks, and then repeat each of the following movements three times. On exercises that ask you to put your thumb in your mouth, make sure to purse your lips around your thumb in an “O” shape, then soften your mouth and repeat the moves.

As a general rule, the finger that’s on the outside of your face will glide toward your lips. You can and will feel lumps and bumps in the tissue. Don’t worry – this is totally normal.

  1. Place your thumb inside your mouth. Let your first and second fingers rest on the skin beside your mouth on the outside. Tighten your lips around your thumb and create a gliding “C” shape around one half of your mouth. Push with your thumb and press with your fingers. Glide back and forth, around your orbicularis oris muscle.
  2. With your fingers and thumb in the same position, keep your thumb still as you glide your fingers toward your thumb in short strokes. Continue as you work around the side of your mouth. Keep your lips tight around your thumb.
  3. The path you should be following is: glide from the side of your nose over the nasolabial area. Then glide from the outer corner of your eye to your mouth. Glide from your ear to your mouth; then your cheek to your mouth; from your jaw to your mouth and from your chin to your lower lip.
  4. Place your thumb further inside your mouth and repeat the last move, but now with your thumb and fingers gliding together. Imagine they’re stuck together like magnets as they trace along the same path. Keep your lips tight around your thumb in an “O” shape.
  5. Use three fingers on the outside of your face to mirror the movement of your thumb inside your mouth as you glide them all from your ear to your mouth.
  6. With your thumb still inside your mouth, use your first finger to glide in a curve (imagine you’re sucking your thumb and rubbing your skin with your first finger). This movement is more of a rubbing motion.
  7. Work around the nasolabial area in this fashion, gliding your bent finger across the skin toward your thumb.
  8. Repeat these moves on the other side of your face.

Buccal facial massage around the mouth

I call these 'walrus tusk' moves, here's how to do them.

  1. Place both thumbs inside your mouth. Glide both of your first fingers in an inward curving glide, like creating a semi-circle on each side, tracing and rubbing over the nasolabial line and upper lip area.
  2. Place your first fingers inside your mouth and repeat the move, this time with your thumbs gliding in a semi-circle around the sides of your mouth, from your nose to your chin and back.

This is an extract taken from The Glow Plan - Face massage for happy, healthy skin in 4 weeks by Abigail James, £11.75. Design and typography copyright © Watkins Media Limited 2022 Text copyright © Abigail James 2022 Photography copyright © Katrina Lipska 2022

Find out more about Abigail James on her website and follow her on Instagram