I’m a type A, 30-something, city-dwelling stress magnet. I like to think that I thrive on the pulse of the city, but in reality, I’m someone who holds onto stress more than others. Therefore, I practice not-so-radical ‘self-care’; leaping hoops and bounds, racing from yoga to another wellness activity, fueling my financial stress with reiki, massages, acupuncture, meditation studios, facials, boxing and the like.
My telltale sign of stress is in my crocodile jaw. I’ve ground through a $400 nightguard in the blink of a year, prompting my dentist to ask if I’m exercising enough to relieve tension… and this is when Classpass was unlimited! I’ve spent a considerable amount of time researching how I can get the equivalent of a Chinatown foot massage on my face, sans facial, to really dig into the pressure points. Without fail, this search proves fruitless, I end up doing YouTube videos of Ayurvedic face massages and yogi lion breaths in my living room.
So, as you can imagine, I was ecstatic when I came across Face Gym on my Insta feed. Described as a workout for your face, the Face Gym is a fresh import from London, acutely targets facial muscles, and is poshly placed in the sparkly new Saks Fifth Avenue beauty floor. I had to try it, at least for my dentist’s sake.
Founded by Inge Theron, a kindred beauty enthusiast who formerly had a prestigious column at the Financial Times, “Chronicles of a Spa Junkie,” Theron subjected herself to a multitude of anti-aging treatments over the course of three years, one of which ended up being a particularly botched face-lifting procedure. Legend has it that she quit, packed her bags, and set off to travel the globe on a mission to rethink beauty, with a focus on a non-invasive approach. Theron sought after the top doctors, facialists, gurus, and wellness experts in India, Paris, Mexico, Indonesia, and began building a better way to approach our face care. We spend painstaking hours in the gym working muscles in our bodies but never do we work out the 40 muscles in our face. [Insert ah-ha moment], Face Gym was born and has since been a smashing success.I signed up for the Game Face treatment and was greeted by friendly staff dressed in workout gear, the vibe was very Equinox meets Drybar. This isn’t a sleepy day spa, the staff is enthusiastic and pop music is pumping. I was presented with a lengthy iPad questionnaire and surrounded by the Make It Bar consisting of a plethora of shimmering oils and serums, where users can custom build their training serum in conjunction with the Muscle Blend.
The first step, a ‘warm-up’, was a face wash, in which I learned that all products in Face Gym are vegan and sourced for quality. A small yoga-like ball was then pushed against the corners of my face to relieve tension. Just like a good stretch, but this felt so foreign and forbidden to be pulling the face in different directions. The exact opposite of what our mothers tell us to do, yet it feels so good to move, like a good stretch after a long car ride.
And then, perhaps the best thing that’s ever happened to my face, Lucia’s facial massage. Ladies and gentlemen, this is where all my obscure face massage dreams came true. The “sculpting” part of the workout lifts muscles off their frame which is said to release toxins, allowing for the muscles to readjust and sit higher on the bone. She literally worked out the knots in my face, rolling out the tension in my jawline, rather vigorously, and I found myself visualizing winning the lotto and creating a guest house for her to massage my face every day, or alternatively, buying a Face Gym package. It was HEAVEN. It was intense. I was hooked.
Then the real heart-pumping workout began. I was lathered up with friction activated serum while a radio frequency machine got fired up for action. This machine effectively heats up the water molecules within the skin and realigns collagen. In layman’s terms, this damages skin to signal the body to “hey send over collagen reinforcements!” and we all want more collagen. The machine is guided along the jaw and lower cheek area in quick movements and gets very hot. My trainer actively kept a temperature meter on my face in between heatings to keep things civil. It didn’t necessarily hurt, but it felt akin to a workout where the discomfort is probably good for you. Mid-way through the process I was given a mirror to see the results in the mirror and half of my face was elevated and plump. Holy shit.I was then cooled down to begin the adventure of the Pure Lift machine, which was the craziest sensation. Lucia advised that it is like doing 600 sit-ups on your face and I love a workout where I don’t have to move. The namesake device is handheld and uses electric currents to melt facial fat and contract muscles, thereby restoring skin’s elasticity. It felt like a low key lightning rod was shooting through valleys underneath my face. Fatty cheeks felt a little zing but boy I got shook when they penetrated nearby my eyes. I’m assuming it was because this area has more hollowness for the electric to hit. It felt freaky but was short lived.
My savasana was a towel off and a Gua Sha jade tool for a little lymphatic drainage and increased circulation. After an ample slathering with hyaluronic serum, I was smoothed and tightened and advised to come back every 10 days. Because of the heat involved, the skin is dehydrated so it is important to double down on water and avoid full body workouts for 72 hours.
Throughout my workout, my trainer Lucia would hand me a handheld mirror so I could see the visible difference from my right and left sides of my face, a ‘before and after.’ It was impressive but I honestly was also a little dubious that this could be a party trick. And then… I went outside and snapped a selfie. I hadn’t even realized how much older looking I’ve become until I was flabbergasted at my reflection. I looked at least three years younger, my Sleepy Hollow eyes were plumped up and I had Bella Hadid’s cheeks (ok not really) but wow. It worked.The visible results last a day or two so I would highly advise doing this before a big event. While not as obvious, I do believe that the tension-busting massage generated longer lasting results and temporarily cured my inevitable jaw clutch. Overall, I would highly recommend this, 4.9 stars.
Workouts cost $70 to $275, and Face Gym is expanding to Bond street this fall and Los Angeles in 2019.