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Face rollers 101: How to use one and their many skin benefits

We tapped dermatologists to learn exactly how face rollers work, what their benefits are and how to properly use one.
Woman using a Face Roller
Experts said that face rollers can reduce puffiness and boost circulation, which can make your skin look plumper.Kara Birnbaum / NBC for select

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Many people already spend a good amount of time tending to their skin's various needs via a slew of creams, serums and toners, but dermatologists say massaging the face is just as important. In fact, facial massages are hardly a new phenomenon: Gua sha, a traditional Chinese form of massaging that involves running a smooth stone along the face and jaw, has been used for centuries to sculpt the skin and promote blood circulation.

SKIP AHEAD The best face rollers | Benefits of face rollers | How to use a face roller | Why trust Select?

Face rollers yield similar results to gua sha stones, and they may be a quicker, more foolproof way to reap the skin-toning benefits of a facial massage, experts said. Below, we tapped dermatologists to learn exactly how face rollers work, what their benefits are and how to properly use one. We also asked them what qualities to look for when it comes time to shop for one.

What do face rollers do?

"Face rollers are massage tools that temporarily boost circulation, tighten the skin and reduce puffiness," explained cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green. Unlike gua sha tools, face rollers feature a handle with a rotating "wheel" that you're meant to roll on your face. Some people store their face rollers in the refrigerator for the plumping benefits the coolness offers, said Green.

Face rollers are typically made out of crystals, each type bringing with it its own set of unique qualities. For instance, jade is a naturally cold material that delivers a cooling effect without having to be stored in the refrigerator, Green said. Similarly, she explained that rose quartz has the ability to maintain its coolness for an extended period of time, so if you store your face roller in the refrigerator, it'll be able to maintain that cold temperature for the duration of the face massage — this can be beneficial for those with inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea. Green also noted that amethyst, known for its calming energy, may regulate circulation and reduce inflammation in the skin.

The best face rollers in 2022

The market is brimming with face rollers, which can make shopping for one slightly intimidating for some. According to Green, it's important to note that face rollers alone will not sculpt your facial features like some cosmetic treatments do (read: fillers) — however, it's a great at-home tool if you frequently experience puffiness and inflammation, or you have a big event you need to prepare your skin for.

When shopping for a face roller, consider the type of crystal it's made out of as well as how easy it is to clean and how compact it is (if you plan on traveling with it).

EcoTools Mini Rose Quartz Facial Roller

Dr. Brendan Camp of MDCS Dermatology is a fan of this face roller from EcoTools thanks to its convenient, travel-ready size, which makes it easy to throw in your toiletry bag or gym bag alongside your other skin care products. According to the brand, the rose quartz roller is meant to temporarily smooth the face and reduce puffiness.

Daily Concepts Daily Jade Facial Roller

This double-sided jade face roller makes it easier to target both large and small surfaces of your face, according to the brand. The large end can be used on the face and neck while the small end is meant for hard-to-reach spaces like around the nose and in between the eyebrows. This roller also helps with lymphatic drainage, skin brightening and depuffing, the brand says.

Esker Allover Roller

What sets this roller apart from the others is the textured nubs, which Camp said can help to improve circulation. "It's also larger in size so that it can be used on the body as well as the face," he noted. With consistent use, the brand says that the roller helps promote softer, more glowy skin.

Plum Beauty Amethyst Facial Roller

Plum Beauty's Amethyst Facial Roller targets tired under eyes and dark circles. It also works to tighten the skin, minimize the look of pores and increase the efficacy of your other skin care products, according to the brand. Though it's one of the more affordable products on our list, the brand says it boasts a high-quality design that'll last.

Benefits of face rollers

Face rollers come with a slew of benefits, and anyone — no matter their skin type — can use them. Camp said that those with a special interest in addressing puffiness or swelling or those who are seeking a calming, almost meditative approach to skin care can especially benefit from integrating a roller into their routine. Below, dermatologists break down some of the benefits of using a face roller regularly.

Decreases facial puffiness

If you’re dealing with facial puffiness due to excess salt consumption, alcohol or anything else, a face roller may be able to help. As Green explained, we all have a lymphatic system that transports cellular waste and toxins and leaves behind nutrients and white blood cells. "The flow of the lymph can be interrupted for various reasons, such as dehydration, lack of exercise, consuming too much sodium and lying down for a prolonged period, and this fluid and waste can build up in the lymph nodes, which leads to puffiness of the face," Green explained. "Correctly using a face roller can promote lymphatic drainage to decrease puffiness as well as drastically reduce the appearance of a puffy face caused by fluid retention overnight."

Plumps the skin

Over time, your lymph nodes may get clogged with fluid and waste. This prevents nutrients from reaching the face and can result in dullness. Green said that "the movement of face rollers on the skin dilates blood vessels and promotes circulation, therefore allowing the increased blood supply to transport more nutrients to the face." The result is fresher, plumper-looking skin.

Increases product penetration

Face rollers can help improve the penetration of skin care products — serums especially — by helping to spread the product evenly over the skin surface, said Camp. "This may facilitate the integration of active products into the skin," he explained.

Reduces stress

Just like a back massage, massaging the face via a face roller can be a calming, meditative experience. One study found that a 45-minute facial massage improved the moods of and reduced the stress levels of participants. Camp recommended pairing your face rolling with breathing exercises to ground yourself and improve your skin at the same time.

How to use a face roller

Giving yourself a facial massage with a roller is like bringing the spa to your home — but there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. Here's how to use a face roller properly, according to Green.

  • Begin by washing your face with your favorite cleanser. Dry with a clean towel.
  • Next, perform your normal skin care routine. "You can apply serums, oils and moisturizer using the roller itself or apply all the products with your hands first followed by the roller," Green said. If rolling during the daytime, use it at the end of your skin care routine before applying sunscreen.
  • Make sure you’re using the roller the right way. "The roller should be used in an upward and outward direction, beginning from the center of the face," said Green. "Roll from the jawline to the ears on both sides using gentle pressure, and roll from the forehead toward the hairline in an upward direction. Roll for five minutes a day.
  • Clean the face roller after each use with soap and water to avoid bacteria and product buildup.

Avoid moving back and forth with the roller, as Green said this won't improve the flow and drainage of lymphatic fluid. Camp said that rollers can be used right after application of skin care products to help its penetration, but they can also be used separately from your routine at any point during the day to calm the skin and reduce swelling. Just make sure to use face rollers in conjunction with some type of skin care product like a serum, oil, or moisturizer, as using them alone can contribute to the formation of wrinkles, warned Green.

Why trust Select?

Select writer Michelle Rostamian has more than 10 years of experience covering beauty and skin care topics. Rostamian has tested dozens of skin care devices over the years, including face rollers. For this story, Rostamian spoke to two board-certified dermatologists. Based on their guidance and recommendations, Rostamian reviewed the features of several face rollers from brands like Plum Beauty and EcoTools.

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