An Esthetician and Craniosacral Therapist Shares the Tension-Busting, 3-Step Jaw Massage You Can Do at Home

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It’s the most magical—and slightly stressful—time of the year. Between the holiday shindigs, shopping, gifting, and general busyness, my body is physically feeling the stress, and it’s showing up on my face. Without even knowing it, my shoulders tend to tighten and my jaw tenses, but I don’t have time to make a spa day of it. Cue Sarah Clark’s gift that keeps on giving: A three-step, tension-busting, at-home jaw massage.

A New York City-based esthetician and biodynamic craniosacral therapist, Clark’s practice uses energy medicine to uncover the deeper physiology and anatomy of layers and patterns underneath the skin. Essentially, her work connects skin health with overall health. Through a modality called craniosacral massage, she uses light, gentle touch to connect and palpate the fluid, tissue, and biological energy of our systems that are all based on movement in the central nervous system.

Experts In This Article
  • Sarah Clark, Sarah Clark is an esthetician and biodynamic craniosacral therapist.

“The core of this work is to find the health and amplify it, allowing your system to have more vitality and capacity to process life experiences," says Clark. She notes that these experiences can include physical injuries, disease, traumas, and emotions, all of which can lead to tension in the body. This tension, she explains, can potentially create puffiness, blocked nasal sinuses, and more. And on a deeper level, it can cause strain to the rest of the body.

“Craniosacral therapy was not originally meant for beauty, but beauty is health and health is beauty,” she says. “When we have everything in our system in as much of an optimal balance, everything functions the best we can. Our skin as an organ, it all is connected.”

How to relieve jaw tension at home

Our jaw can be very nuanced and have many layers, but a few easy craniosacral massage techniques can help relieve tension in the area at home.

First, take a few deep breaths and bring your attention to your jaw and face. Visualize your mandible (or jawbone) gently hanging from the base of your ear like a hammock, still attached without that need to engage. Feel that mandible safely let go.

Next, use the knuckles between your index and middle finger to glide and massage your jawline. The back of your hands should face up toward your lips/nose/eyes. You can do one side at a time or use both hands, starting under your chin and moving out toward your ears. Use your thumbs to hook under your mandible and glide out toward your ears in the same way.

Then, use all your knuckles to knead and massage the masseter muscle, which attaches under your cheekbone down to your mandible in between your nose and ears. It can be found by gently biting and clenching down. You can gently knead this area like dough, playing with soft and firm pressures.

Clark recommends using a face cream or oil to glide the massage movements without pulling too much on the skin. She opts for Linne Bottanicals Balance Face Oil ($68) or Para Botanica Haima Skin Dew ($42). Now relax and soak up the season with a bit less tension.

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