Ask a Beauty Editor: How to Use a Face Roller for Maximum Skincare Benefits

You never want to roll back and forth.

Photo: Getty Images

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Reader question: "What is the right way to use a jade roller?" —Paula Shelton

If you think face rollers are all hype, consider this: Dermatologists and aestheticians agree that these tools deliver some seriously legit skin benefits. And hey, even the biggest roller skeptics can't deny that it feels pretty heavenly (read: highly addictive).

Although face rollers have become fairly mainstream in the skincare world, here's a quick explainer. Face rollers are usually made of "healing stones"—jade, rose quartz, and amethyst being the most common—that have been smoothed and attached to a convenient handle. That's not to say they'll magically eliminate your eczema, but it is naturally cool to the touch and great for helping reduce redness and irritation.

You'll notice that a traditional roller comes with two ends—a larger side for the larger areas of your face (cheeks, jaw, forehead) and the smaller side for the smaller areas of your face (undereyes, brows, etc.). You can utilize this to roll skincare serums into your face, maximizing absorption and ensuring an equal distribution of product.

But that's not all—the rolling movement itself has benefits too. It's great if you carry a lot of facial muscle tension because the pressure acts like a deep tissue massage for your face. Another plus: depuffing, since the massaging action encourages lymphatic drainage by stimulating the lymph nodes to drain fluid from the face.

"We use the roller to help lessen crease depth of nasolabial folds, lymphatic drainage, and lessen undereye puffiness," says Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., FAAD, a board certified derm in Miami, and founder of Dr. Loretta skincare. "Also, the roller can help massage skin and underlying subcutaneous fat pads into an upward motion. I've taken photos of my own face before and after using a roller and there is significant lessening in the nose-to-mouth creases."

That being said, if you want to reap all the above benefits, you have to roll correctly. Otherwise, your rolling may be rendered moot—or worse, have an adverse effect. Below are some of the most egregious rolling mistakes you can make.

Face Rolling Mistakes

01 of 05

Not using any product before rolling

For optimal results, you want to apply a skincare product (i.e. serum) to your cleansed face before using a roller. "The roller will enhance penetration of the serum into skin, and the added lubrication reduces friction and helps the roller glide more easily across the face," says Dr. Ciraldo.

02 of 05

Not cleaning your roller regularly

Yes, even if you're rolling on a clean mug. "Like any surface that is exposed to open air, our rollers can harbor tiny pollutants like dust mites," says Dr. Ciraldo. "And since we are pressing the roller along our skin, it can pick up naturally occurring microbes like fungus and bacteria that reside in tiny amounts on the skin surface." In other words, you want to be cleansing that roller regularly—at least once a week—to remove any nasties that will collect over time.

03 of 05

Rolling back and forth—or downwards—on your face

The direction you roll in matters—and you should always roll outward from the center of your face. Going back and forth doesn't help improve blood flow to the face, and rolling downward is quite literally dragging your skin down—remember, you want to lift for a more youthful complexion.

04 of 05

Not applying enough pressure or applying too much pressure

"Not enough pressure and you are not optimizing possible collagen stimulation, lymphatic drainage, or skin circulation," says Dr. Ciraldo. On the flip side, "too much pressure could injure superficial skin blood vessels (i.e., break capillaries) or worsen inflamed acne lesions." To prevent both from happening, use brisk but firm strokes without pressing to the point of pain.

05 of 05

Jade rolling after microneedling or derma-rolling

We never want to overwork our skin, and facial rolling on top of microneedling or derma-rolling is complete overkill. "Only use one or the other of these at-home procedures on your skin," says Dr. Ciraldo. "You never want to roll with other at-home devices at the same time."

How to Use a Face Roller

Now that you know what not to do, see below for a step-by-step tutorial on how to roll your face the right way.

  1. Wash your face. It's always important to roll on a clean face; otherwise, you're just pushing all that dirt and oil into your pores—not good.
  2. Moisturize with your favorite serums and moisturizers to provide some slip. In other words, rolling should be the last step in the bigger picture of your skincare routine.
  3. Starting at the jawline with the larger side of the roller, proceed in an upward and outward motion up the cheeks and to the hairline (think the Nike swoosh). Continue in ribbon-like sections until you have completed this on all of the lower face.
  4. For the forehead, start right above the brows and go up to the hairline in a vertical band distribution.
  5. Switch to the shorter roller for your undereyes. Starting under the inner corner of your eye, press and roll gently in an outward and slightly upward direction.
  6. Repeat this rolling process three to five times a week for maximum results.
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