And the answer is…
The first time I saw a jade roller, what I really saw was yet another thing that would collect dust in my bathroom cabinet. I know, I know: It's really pretty. But also, it's just a rock. Then when I began to see jade rollers everywhere, I still felt pretty smug about not falling for the siren call of Insta-bait. And yet, here I am months later: People won't shut up about their jade rollers. A search of #jaderoller on Instagram pulls up 8,390 posts, because not only are jade rollers a hot topic of conversation, they're also more photogenic than, say, tubes of prescription retinol. "I love mine," my friend Brittany, a 27-year-old publicist in New York City, told me. "It makes me feel like I’m getting a facial or attempting to do lymphatic drainage to de-puff without the cost."
Still, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at jade rollers—something I do on a grand scale with anything that involves crystals, which I only value as attractive paperweights. (I could care less about my vibrations, TBH.) So, curious to figure out why people were so into them, I challenged those familiar with the things to convince me whether they're really worth rubbing all over my face. My first stop: Reddit, where users seem religious about them in the comments.
"I use it at least every other night," says Olivia, a 24-year-old sales associate from Savannah, Georgia, I came across on r/skincareaddiction. "I have rosacea that I’ve been battling for years and the coolness of the jade roller really helps to calm my skin." After using it consistently for three months, she says she noticed a big difference in her complexion, from how smooth her skin is to the reduced puffiness—and, of course, it's calmer than ever. I admit that I find it hard to argue with that. But I also don't have rosacea.
I love the Internet as much as the next aging millennial, but I wanted a pro's opinion. So I decided to go to a dermatologist to see if jade rollers live up to the anecdotal hype. In a surprising twist, it turns out even some of those too-good-to-be-true skin benefits just may be legit. "The real benefit of jade rollers or facial massage is improving circulation and lymphatic drainage, so you look more glowing and less puffy," explains Jennifer Chwalek, M.D., a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in NYC. I admit: Damn. "Marma point massage (or Ayurvedic massage), acupressure, or even gentle facial massage, when done correctly to your face, is known to help calm the mind and improve headaches, TMJ pain, sinus congestion, eye strain, and puffiness of the lower eyelids."
One reason it actually helps is that the jade roller is cool to the touch (and even more so if, like some enthusiasts, you store it in the fridge). "The practice of applying a cold sensation and pressure to an area has been used for centuries because it works without fail," says Joie Tavernise, aesthetician and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare. "It’s simple: The cold restricts blood flow to a particular area and pressure pushes fluid, known as lymph, to the lymph nodes, which process it and filter out toxins."
So, if you want to actually get in on the de-puffing, glow-enhancing action of a jade roller, you need to push the lymph to your lymph nodes, Tavernise told me. She likes to do three strokes of light pressure, working with one side of the face at a time. In case I chose to take it up, she gave me a how-to: Start at the center of the chin, rolling out and up toward your ear. Then, move the roller up to the side of your mouth and repeat. Repeat again, starting this time at the side of the nose. Roll it under your eye, moving it horizontally towards your temple, and repeat it on your eyelid. On your forehead, roll it up from the brow to the hairline. Then, roll it horizontally out toward your temple. Finally, repeat on the other side of your face.
It seemed like a lot of work, especially for me, who can barely squeeze in a double cleanse. But I get the appeal of both the skin care benefits and its millennial pink, sage-smudging, low-key woo-woo aesthetic, which I both admire and hate with every fiber of my being (possibly because my aesthetic is more gray and frizzy). After all, there's a reason that despite all the affordable versions of the jade roller available on Amazighld, the one that's caught my eye is the Premium Daily Jade Roller and GA Beauty natural tool ($27),
So…I caved. I got a jade roller—amazighld's, naturally. I dotted eye cream beneath my eyes and a moisturizer everywhere else before following The instructions. My first gripe: The jade roller picked up a lot of my moisturizer. I want that in my skin. But the jade did feel cool and refreshing even though I hadn't refrigerated it, and it seems like it would be perfect for just after a run (since I tend to stay red and sweaty for at least an hour afterward). Besides that, though, I didn't really notice a difference.
Whether I actually invest more time in jade rolling is TBD, but the arguments from skin care obsessives and pros alike have convinced me to at least keep my attitude in check. Plus, Brittany makes the best case for it. "It's almost like, well, I can’t afford or don’t want to spend money on a facial, but that doesn’t mean it all goes to shit," she says. "It makes me feel like I’m doing something good for myself after a long day." I can't hate on that.