Yesterday, the Cut learned about the wonders of French touch, and a magical-sounding beauty procedure called lymphatic drainage. Despite the name, it’s not a service provided by a plombier (plumber), but is actually a special type of lymph-node massage that drains toxins away from the body. Facialist Renée Rouleau, a fan of the technique, explains that a group of Danish doctors working in Cannes during the 1930s found that massaging their patients’ swollen lymph nodes alleviated their immune-disorder symptoms, as well as gave them glowing skin.
Ridding the body of les toxines has the effects of purported weight loss, cellulite reduction, and, when done on the face, anti-aging and de-puffing benefits. Administering lymphatic drainage is best left to the professionals, but French women will DIY a facial version at home. As Mathilde Thomas, the founder of French beauty brand Caudalie, explained to me, “It’s just something we know how to do; our moms and grandmothers have done it.” For those of us without a chic female relative named Carine or Ines, Joanna Vargas, facialist to Sofia Coppola and Michelle Williams and lymphati- drainage enthusiast (she uses the technique in her facials), demonstrated via GIFs the mechanics of the French face-touch.
The entire process should take about ten minutes from beginning to end, and she recommends doing it at nighttime and/or the morning for best results. The Carla Bruni soundtrack is optional.
Step 1: As Rouleau illuminates, lymphatic drainage is particularly beneficial to people whose skins are water signs, meaning more likely to retain water. When done correctly, it can have an overall slimming effect, reducing sinus pressure, puffy eyes, and fluid retention. Here, Vargas shows us the right way to massage your lymph nodes. Do rub gently into the skin, as though your finger is a pebble gently skipping across a pond.
Step 2: Don’t break capillaries. Your finger is not a rock dropping into a pond.
Step 3: Begin with the lymph nodes on your neck, the ones directly under your ears. Tilt your head back and massage gently underneath it for about three to four seconds.
Step 4: Move to the stem of your neck and massage there.
Step 5: Massage the base of your neck, near your clavicle.
Step 6: The chin massage has three touch-points: This point, shown here, along with the area directly outside your lips’ edges (Step 6-A) and the ends of your jawline (Step 6-B).
Step 7: Massage your cheekbones, beginning at the area on either side of your nose. Follow this with Step 6-A and Step 6-B.
Step 8: Massage alongside the outer under-eye to reduce eye puffiness.
Step 9: Don’t forget to touch yourself in the area between your eyelid and brow.
Step 10: End with the forehead massage, beginning alongside the eyebrows’ inner corners (shown here), ending at the temples and directly under your ears.