Are FaceGym's fitness-inspired facial treatments the work out we've been waiting for?
We review the grooming gymspiration transforming traditional facial treatments
I can honestly say that a FaceGym facial is like nothing I have ever experienced. Indeed, as founder Inge Theron insists, it’s not actually a facial at all. It’s a non-invasive “workout” for your face, involving “sets, reps and packs” – to use gym parlance – that exercises all those tiny forgotten muscles, around 40 in total.
The clue, of course, is in the name – and the fitness theme is carried through in the design of the studios, which are kitted out like a cross between a high-tech gym, skin clinic and beauty spa, complete with training barre, lockers and portable drip station containing saline solutions and vitamin shots. Everything about the studio is deliberately unisex, which helps to account for the fact that more than 15% of customers are male.
There are now four FaceGym studios in London, including a concession in Selfridges and the new state-of-the-art Coal Drops Yard premises, designed by the brand’s creative director Alasdhair Willis, also creative mastermind behind British heritage brand, Hunter. For my session (you quickly slip into using the lingo), I head to FaceGym in St John’s Wood, north west London, where my trainer Elizabeth is limbering up to give me a Party Face, one of the many different workouts to choose from.
She tells me she’s also a holistic healer, and it’s no surprise to learn that many of the staff are personal trainers or dancers. Rather than lie on a beauty bed in a darkened room with scented candle, you take a seat in a communal space on one of the customised plush leather reclining chairs. The process mimics a fitness class: a warm-up, followed by intense cardio, sculpting and finally, cool down. There’s so much going on during my hour-long treatment, that it genuinely feels like I’m getting a workout but with my trainer doing all the hard work.
First, my face is given a deep cleanse using vigorous knuckling movements to boost the lymphatic system and kick start the detoxification process. Using a Skin IV jet pen, Elizabeth also blasts my face with a saline salt solution full of gentle glycolic acids to remove dead skin cells and clear any congestion. Then she uses a training ball to stretch the pectoral muscles and open up my breathing, as well as rolling it over my cheeks to ease tension. >>
Next step is cardio, quite the most extraordinary experience, as Elizabeth applies increasingly rapid whipping strokes to stimulate blood circulation, collagen production and cell renewal. It’s like a spinning class for your facial muscles with the revs becoming faster and faster – only, in this case, the sensation is strangely pleasurable rather than painful.
She uses the brand’s signature friction-activated training serum, formulated with green coffee bean oil (you can create your own blend at the studio’s Make It bar), which slowly releases deep into the epidermis as your skin warms up. My cheekbones are already starting to feel more prominent and I’m sure I can see my double chin disappearing before my eyes as Elizabeth sculpts, lifts and tones. All the expert pummelling also markedly reduces the ghastly puffiness under my eyes.
The next tool in the FaceGym arsenal is a gold derma roller, which looks a bit like a small paint roller covered with tiny needles to gently prick the face and boost collagen production and circulation. Then Elizabeth slathers on an activated gel before using the electrical FaceGym Pro device, described as a “powerplate for your face”, for some serious micro-contouring.
Despite the frenzied pace, I find myself starting to nod off, only to be jolted awake with a high-speed blast of cold air delivering a deep cleaning cocktail of peptides and acids with two vitamin shots. As with every work-out, you need to cool down at the end, and at FaceGym, this is achieved by gliding a cooling jade stone across the face to even skin tone and boost circulation and product absorption. Last but not least, Elizabeth applies some sunscreen. Gazing in the mirror, I feel like I’m glowing from the inside out and only wish I had a party to go to that evening.