Proponents of massage say that it has a host of benefits from anti-aging skin benefits, in addition to relaxation and stress reduction–which we all know affects all aspects of our health. Massage has been used for thousands of years, and by many different cultures, for good reason. But what about skin? How does massage benefit skin?

We have muscles and connective tissue underneath our skin that are affected by stress and toxins. Relaxing and massaging the face softens lines around your eyes, lips and brows. It also rids the skin of toxins that cause acne and rosacea, and de-puffs and brightens the eye area. By increasing circulation, oxygenating the blood and encouraging the presence of fresh, healing red blood cell, a good facial massage not only benefits the skin of the face by increasing its elasticity, but also by allowing it to “breath” properly. As a result, the face becomes more radiant, smoother and firmer. And more receptive to serums and creams. Not to mention: It feels good, allowing the massage recipient to relax and release any tension she might be suffering from. We all know stress is bad for skin, causing acne, wrinkles and loss of firmness.

Start massaging at home with these tips from Abigail James, a London based esthetician:

1. Start on the cheeks. Draw big circles using your fingers or knuckles, moving upward.

2. On one side of the face at a time, rub from the midjaw to the cheekbone with long upward strokes, pressing firmly for a moment at the top.

3. Work smile lines with upward strokes, from the corners of the mouth to the corners of the nose.

4. With your fingers, lift and hold both brows to open up the eye area. Rub in a circle around the eye socket out to the temples, eventually expanding to include the forehead.

5. To plump lips, use thumbs and index fingers to quickly pluck all across the top and bottom lip, which stimulates blood flow.