It’s an ancient stone with enticing promises: the jade roller. Beauty enthusiasts – from the Qing Dynasty in 17th century China to the hottest beauty bloggers today – have claimed that this small, handheld tool can do all kinds of favors for our skin: improve circulation, decrease under eye circles, calm inflammation, enhance healing, detoxify the skin, and soften signs of age. But what can these popular tools do, really?
There’s no scientific research on jade rollers. But based on the medical knowledge we do have, here’s my take:
Jade rollers may help reduce puffiness. Anything cool applied to the skin may help to calm swelling temporarily, by constricting blood vessels and reducing inflammation. Cool compresses could come in the form of cucumber slices, ice packs, chilled washcloths, frozen peas, a splash of chilly water, or the cool stone of a jade roller. The few times I’ve used one, I’ve stashed it in the fridge beforehand to help maximize its puff-reducing capabilities. (The cool roller feels soothing - but the anti-swelling benefits are admittedly mild, and temporary.)
Jade rollers might improve circulation. Poor sleep, extra salt intake, fluid retention, gravity, illness, infection, and other factors could slow circulation or lead to increased swelling in the head and neck. This often manifests as under eye swelling or dark circles. Massage (with the help of a jade roller or otherwise) or exercise may improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage, helping to funnel extra fluid out of the head and neck and back into the circulation.
Jade rollers are unlikely to alleviate rashes or wrinkles. Although jade has a reputation as a healing stone, there’s no scientific evidence that it can calm rashes or signs of age. The only way a jade roller might deliver benefits in this area would be indirectly, as part of a soothing ritual to reduce stress and improve well-being. Many dermatologic and health conditions - including acne, psoriasis, shingles, and cold sores - flare when we feel most stressed, so any steps toward self-care (with jade rollers or without) are worthwhile.
Jade rollers could spread germs. Roll any germy device over the skin and it might contribute to breakouts, inflamed hair follicles, or infection (like if the cold sore virus, herpes simplex, is spread around). If you use a jade roller, clean it before each use with alcohol, chlorhexidine, or a gentle cleanser, and only apply it to clean, intact skin.
Jade rollers should not be used over enlarged lymph nodes. There are over 300 of these tiny glands in our head and neck, and they are an essential part of our body’s immune defenses against germs, illness, and even some cancers. If you feel any swollen, enlarged, tender, rubbery, or firm lymph nodes in the face, neck, or anywhere else - especially if they’ve persisted for more than a couple of weeks - put the jade roller away and seek the care of a physician.
The bottom line: There’s no significant science to support the hype behind jade rollers. But if they’re a part of a soothing, feel-good home ritual, why not?