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We are living in a golden age of things to drag across your face. There’s the jade roller and the rose quartz roller and the little blade-looking gua sha tools. There’s the dermaroller — that’s the one covered in needles — and this sex-toy looking thing and a roller that also zaps your face and costs $600. I initially approached all of these tools with skepticism — at first glance, they had the same vibe as those old-timey weight loss machines with the vibrating belt. My general reaction to every trend piece and influencer Instagram story about the latest and greatest one was a big ol' "Sure, Jan."
Then five things happened at roughly the same time:
1. My coworker Gyan said jade rollers are actually pretty legit.
2. I found out that when Meghan Markle was just a lowly actress on Suits, she loved getting intense facial massages at Sanctuary Spa from “cult secret favorite facialist to the stars, Ms. Nichola Joss” (Meghan’s words). These massages supposedly leave your face looking contoured as hell. As Meghan wrote on her now-defunct blog, The Tig:
“To call it a facial doesn’t really do it justice given that the woman puts plastic gloves on and literally gets her hands all up in your mouth to reshape and massage your face from the inside. Even typing this, I realize how ridiculous (and perhaps gross) it may sound. But here’s the thing — once you get over the fact that this chic Brit is stretching your face from the inside out (in a slightly painful, but hurts so good kinda way), you realize that she will give you cheekbones like Kerry Washington, a taut chin, and a glow that lasts for seven days. It works. It actually works.”
Again: SURE, JAN.
3. There was a royal wedding that included a lot of close-ups on Meghan Markle’s beautiful freckled face — a face that appeared, at least to me, to have high cheekbones, a taut chin, and a hell of a glow.
4. A New Yorker article about the dubiously named Face Gym confirmed what Duchess Meghan was saying — that yeah, this kind of facial massage actually does make you look noticeably different and “better.”
5. I found a jade roller that didn’t cost $60; it cost $23 on Amazon — ergo, I was willing to take a chance on it, so I could find out for myself.
After my jade roller arrived, I read the instructions, watched a handful of YouTube videos, and put it in the fridge overnight so I could roll with it cold. The next morning, I still had no idea what to expect from jade rolling. Even after everything I’d read about jade rollers, it still wasn’t clear what was going to happen or how it would happen. But I rolled out of bed, washed my tired face as usual, pressed it dry with a washcloth, and patted a couple drops of my beloved rosehip oil on my skin. Then I took the roller from the fridge, sat down on my bed, and rolled my face in the way the instructions/YouTubers told me to (in an upward/outward motion). It felt exactly like you’d imagine rolling a little smooth stone over your face would feel — perfectly nice, but not like a massage or anything. I did this for a minute or two and then, feeling pretty sure I’d rolled all the face and jaw that I had to roll, I went back to the bathroom with zero expectations.
Reader, it worked.
My immediate reaction was, “Wait, is this what my face is supposed to look like?!” My eyes were suddenly so prominent in my face — in a good way!! — and everything looked visibly brighter and tighter — again, in a very good way. I suddenly just looked so awake, so healthy, so...Disney princess-like? (A half-black divorced American princess whose name happens to be Rachel, let’s say.) At 6:10 am with no makeup on? When just a couple of minutes ago I did not look that way at all? I was legitimately shocked.
Here’s the thing: I look at my face every day and assume I know its limits pretty well. Sure, I might have noted if my eyes looked puffy or tired if I hadn’t gotten much sleep or had been crying the night before. But until that moment, I truly did not realize that my face’s default state in the morning, even after a restful night of sleep, or even after applying makeup, wasn’t necessarily my face in its final form. Call me naive, but I truly had no idea how big of a role lymphatic fluid played in my appearance until I started jade rolling. It’s actually reminded me of just how fleeting and fickle and, well, fluid, our appearances are. It is really all just drag.
Beauty is weird, beauty standards are weird, and I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the amount of lymphatic fluid in your face is a problem to be solved. Instead, I’m going to sit here and tell you about the moment I experience each day after I’m done rolling, when I am heading back to the bathroom and suddenly I feel the lymphatic fluid in my throat! Every time it happens, I’m like OH, YOU! It’s identical to the emotional reaction you have when you receive an email you that you just sent yourself. It gets me every damn time!
A couple of practical notes on jade rolling:
You’re advised to apply some kind of serum or moisturizer to your skin before you roll, which I went ahead did even though kiiiind of thought was fake news...until the day I decided to live on the edge and roll dry, just to see how it felt and was immediately like, GAH NO STOP.
You should wash the jade roller with soap and warm water after each use; not doing so — and instead rubbing something dirty all over your face — can reportedly lead to breakouts. This step annoys me but I do it anyway.
A jade roller would make a nice little gift for anyone who is sleep-deprived (like new parents) and/or anyone who is going through a rough time that might, say, lead to a lot of weeping. (I can also confirm that a jade roller is worlds more effective than those cooling gel eye pads when you are exhausted or you look like shit from crying really hard!)
Anyway, if you want to look more awake or healthier (whatever that means) or more aligned with our current cultural beauty standards — all of which are things you’re allowed to want! — then, yeah...jade rolling totally works.
My journey to being Budget Meghan Markle continues apace!