I came across a very interesting article featuring a set of photos. The photographer stood outside Grand Central Station photographing commuters and captured the same people over a period of 9 years. What bounces off the page is that the expressions on those people's faces are the same, whether snapped weeks later or years later.
What this highlights for me is that we fall into habits of how we express ourselves, be it thinking face, working face or worried face. We all have tension in your face and neck and, over time, we develop certain facial habits such as frowning, clenching our jaw or raising our eyebrows. The muscles contract and tighten. They start to set in their ways. Then the tissue around them tightens; next the skin tightens around the tissues and muscles. The only time you might have a truly relaxed face is when you're asleep - unless you're a jaw grinder.
How do you get rid of this tautness? Can you loosen the habitual expression that has grown onto the face over the years? Actually, yes.
Energy Release Massage
I studied facials and I learned various massage techniques: Swedish, aromatherapy, acupressure, Japanese facial. Most of the face massages you'll come across will involve a certain amount of pressure, sometimes firm pressure. But there's another type of massage which is at the other end of the pressure spectrum. It's completely fingertip light, so light it's even been called angel's touch.
Think of your top layers of skin like the thin skin of a soft meringue. Below that you have your superficial fascia which is made up of fatty tissue and loose connective tissue and is mainly collagen. This area moves, it's flexible. It can stretch and contract easily.
All fascia is mostly composed of collagen and surrounds your muscles, your nerves, bones and organs; it is an elastic sheath much like a stocking. It is this fascia that becomes shortened, inflexible and stiff over time. It's almost as though it sticks itself to the underlying muscles and any lines on the skin become more apparent. As your layers of fascia become stiffer, the system that carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells and carries away the waste doesn't work as well and affects your complexion. Some people even have a pinched expression as the face appears to stiffen and draw into itself.
By using specific light touch movements we can restore flexibility to the connective tissue and release the tension. Once flexibility is restored, the cells receive a more efficient supply of nutrients and oxygen. The layers of skin that were stuck to the fascia can eventually become unstuck. The skin softens, the complexion improves. The face becomes more relaxed, better toned and alive!
Some practitioners liken it to 'gel' and 'sol'. Gel state is like the white of an egg when it's been cooked: it feels dense and sometimes stiff. Sol state is when the white is runny and loose like an uncooked egg. When the fascia in the skin softens, it goes from gel to sol state. This is the point where it can be stretched!
Just as it will have taken years for our faces to gradually stiffen, so it will take time for the flexibility to be restored. With a light touch massage, the effects are cumulative so regular facial is definitely better. And as a bonus, this is probably one of the most relaxing treatments you will ever have.
Link to Photo article.
Link to web page on Facial Energy Release.