Maybe it was the hours we spent mindlessly scraping our gua shas along our chin to pass the time while we were bored in lockdown. Maybe it was the fact that facial sculpting devices became more accessible to use in the home. Maybe it’s the rising popularity of masseter Botox and buccal fat removal.
All we know is everyone is obsessed with having a snatched jawline. And, chances are, if you’re in pursuit of the kind of pronounced jawbone that would make Bella Hadid jealous, then you’ve likely heard of buccal massage.
The intra-oral facial massage technique has garnered 91 million views on TikTok. If you scroll through the videos tagged with #buccalmassage, you’ll find an onslaught of TikToks that intimately explore the open mouths of complete strangers.
Visually it’s a little baffling and the sceptic inside of us wants to believe it’s all just a silly little gimmick. But according to integrated facialist, April Brodie, that’s just simply not the case.
Brodie, who specialises in a Buccal Fusion Facial, is an expert in luxury spa experiences and evidence-based clinical treatments alike and in her professional opinion the combination of intra-oral buccal massage and Gua Sha can have an almost Botox-like effect on the face.
What is buccal massage?
“Buccal massage is an extremely special type of deep tissue facial massage truly unlike any other,” explains Brodie. “What gives this facial technique such a fascinating and sometimes divisive reputation, however, is that the massage moves don’t just occur on the cheeks - but also inside the mouth.”
Buccal massage has roots in dental health, says Brodie, as kneading movements were used inside the cheeks to decrease pain and improve jaw joint mobility by improving elasticity of fibrous tissues. However, practitioners also noticed that the facial physiotherapy technique had sculpting and anti-ageing benefits on the face.
What does a buccal massage do?
“When we think of ageing, we mostly think of the surface signs like wrinkles and sagging, but it’s much more complex,” says Brodie. “There are also changes in bone density and fascia (connective tissue), facial muscles, and fat volume. A standard facial massage can’t address these.”
Buccal massage stimulates lymphatic drainage and blood flow, enhances collagen and elastin production, and tightens and lifts muscles. It is also said to help release blocked energy in the body according to TCM practitioners.
“By releasing tension in the biting muscles, which tend to pull the face inward and downward, buccal massage offers an instant lift while softening the appearance of wrinkles and lines,” Brodie explains. “Buccal facials specifically target muscles like the masseter, cheeks, lips, pterygoids, and tendons of the temporalis, resulting in a more sculpted and lifted facial structure.”
What are the side effects of buccal fat massage?
“My clients all find a huge sense of muscular and TMJ relief and the sensation that their jaw space is more ‘open’, but also visually that their cheekbones seem to have lifted around 2 cm higher,” Brodie claims.
However, it’s important to remember that effects can vary for each person.
“The gentle manipulation of facial muscles and tissues during the massage can reduce tension and loosen tightness in the jaw area, possibly contributing to diminished TMJ symptoms such as jaw pain, clicking, or restricted jaw movement,” Brodie continues.
“Through promoting circulation and aiding lymphatic flow in the facial region, buccal fat massage can also contribute to a refreshed, rejuvenated skin appearance. Reducing facial puffiness, improved skin tone, and a vibrant, revitalised complexion, as well as a slimmer, more contoured facial appearance,” she says. “This may lead to a reduction in fullness in the cheeks and the promotion of a leaner, more sculpted look.”
Can you do buccal massage on yourself?
“Incorporating small amounts of these techniques into your regular home care routine can indeed make a noticeable difference in the health and appearance of your skin,” she says. “By practising any lymphatic drainage techniques, you can promote lymphatic circulation, reduce facial tension, and enhance the absorption of skincare products.”
Brodie recommends using gentle, circular motions with your fingers to aid lymphatic drainage and reduce facial puffiness. You can also purchase lymphatic brushes which are specifically designed to perform the task. While performing a buccal massage at home will incorporate massage of the inner and outer cheeks using your fingers. However you can also use a tool designed for the same purpose if you’d rather keep your fingers out of your mouth.
Rather leave it to the professionals? Try April Brodie’s signature Buccal Fusion Facial.
Want some more skin care treatment recommendations? These are the 5 facial treatments to try this summer according to an expert.
Image credit: Getty
Briar is the Beauty Editor at BEAUTYcrew. Her 'down for anything' attitude has resulted in more than a handful of hair transformations, and she doesn't mind being used as a guinea pig for the industry's most unusual products and treatments. Her work has also appeared on Refinery29, Girlfriend and beautyheaven.