Next, Carter switched up her hand position to focus on my jowls and jawline. With her thumbs still entrenched in my mouth, she stretched my mouth wide and massaged the fat and skin under my chin and up along my jawline. Using her thumbs inside my mouth and her palms and fingers outside, she repeatedly scooped everything upwards, in a series of remarkably quick and precise movements. She pulled my facial muscles into otherwise impossible expressions and stretched my upper and lower lips wide, which reminded me of getting the wires on my lingual braces changed. Carter occasionally gave me a heads up that a certain scoop or tug might feel intense, but the lifting, squeezing, and jiggling (technical term) felt incredible, and I could actually feel my facial muscles relaxing.
In the end, this highly intimate facial massage was worth it. After I left Honest Rituals, I obviously spent twenty minutes in the parking lot taking selfies and examining my face from every angle I could manage in the rearview mirror. What I saw was more definition at my jawline and an overall lift around my cheekbones.
What else happens during a face massage?
Honestly, a lot — though, to note, not all “sculpting massages” include buccal massage.
Both Carter and Joomee Song, an Los Angeles-based aesthetician famous for her KAIKA sculpting massage technique, work only with their hands — no face rollers, gadgets or gua sha stones — to manually release muscle tension in the face and jaw. “The hand is the only way to feel and fully understand the condition of the muscles,” Song told me after one of her signature KAIKA sculpting massages at her Los Angeles studio, Faceworks. “The face holds tension exactly the same way the rest of the body does, and it can even be more tense, because the facial muscles are directly connected to all of our senses.”
During the massage, Song pointed out that the masseter muscle on my right side was larger than the one on my left — likely due to a combination of clenching, people pleasing, and overusing my dominant side. After the massage, my face looked more defined, more balanced, and more like it did ten years ago — when I was younger, sure, but also when I was less…clenchy.