How to achieve a lifted, chiselled jawline and remarkably sculpted cheekbones? It seems we’re all on the hunt for a method that works. The term “sculpt cheekbones” alone has 233.6 million views on TikTok, while Google searches for “how to use gua sha” (an at-home technique) are up 50 per cent in the last 30 days. Those in the know, however, are turning to buccal massage.
You might have heard the word “buccal” bandied about lately, most likely after a more invasive procedure, called buccal fat removal, became a thing. Buccal fat sits on either side of the mouth, between the facial muscles, and removing it creates a hollow in the face – cue a more sculpted appearance. It’s not for the faint of heart though, and experts agree that for most people, it’s best avoided.
On the other hand, buccal massage – which involves working on the cheeks from inside the mouth – can “relieve tension, remove a build-up of toxins, awaken lazy muscles and open the facial contours to help the face feel more relaxed and stretched”, says Michaella Bolder, a facialist who has been championing buccal massage in her treatments for more than 15 years. “Working the outer muscles of the face is an incredible way to contour and stimulate a more sculpted lift, while adding buccal techniques enhances the results, setting the muscles in place.”
A great way to access pockets of tension that many of us store in the cheeks and around the jawline, having a buccal massage can be slightly (but satisfyingly) uncomfortable at times, but leaves the face feeling delightfully loose. You also quickly notice the re-emergence of long-lost cheekbones, while skin begins to glow again thanks to the oxygenation of the blood.
“A lot of people suffer from bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth), and sometimes you just need a good massage to relieve it and help the skin look amazing,” agrees Guendalina Gennari, also known as The Skin Sculpter, who first encountered buccal massage in her youth thanks to her Italian grandmother. “It’s mainly about working on the muscle, ligaments and fascia – all muscles have a memory, so the more you stimulate them, the more they return to their original shape. And, by working on the fascia and ligaments, you make sure they stay in that specific position.”
In order to help her clients – who include Gillian Anderson and Jodie Turner-Smith – look and feel amazing, Gennari’s method begins and ends with lymphatic drainage massage. “You want to open all the lymph nodes to make sure that the liquid that stagnates around the face can start to flow again,” she explains. “Then, I sculpt and lift the cheekbones from the inside – you can’t reach stagnating liquids underneath the cheekbone from the outside – and then finish with more lymphatic drainage. Sculpting involves moving a lot of liquids, so lymphatic drainage is key to ensure everything is flushed out, and the client doesn’t get puffy or bloated.”
When the liquids are gone, a chiselled, lifted pair of cheekbones sit in their place. Best experienced at least once with an expert, rigorous facial massage like this – inside and out – is great for most skin types. If you suffer from active or cystic acne, however, Gennari advises against it, as you can cause more inflammation and breakouts.
The more consistently you can go for an inner facelift, the better your skin and facial structure will fare over time, although you should leave at least a week between treatments. In the interim, Gennari is a big fan of at-home microstimulation and microcurrent tools, such as NuFace or the Foreo Bear. “I always say to my clients that some kind of muscle stimulation is better than nothing,” she says. “If they can come and see me once a month and use a tool in between, they see a really big difference.”
Where to book in for buccal massage
- Michaella Bolder
- The Skin Sculpter: Guendalina Gennari
- Nichola Joss
- Lana Buckley at Cloud Twelve
- Flavia Morellato
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