You might not know Spa Junkie in person but I am sure you have heard or read Inge Theron’s column in FT’s ‘How to Spend it’ where she recaps her experiences in all things beauty. Based on her many years of experiencing beauty treatments, Inge came up with the facial massage concept of the Face Gym – we exercise our bodies, shouldn’t we be doing the same with our faces?
Spa Junkie Face Gym launched with great fanfare and social media buzz in Selfridges a few months ago but it is only now that I manged to book myself for an appointment. Located next to the sunglasses section on the ground floor, you drop by the desk and then go up the steps to a cosy area with a few chairs that wouldn’t be our of place at the barbers, with the difference being that you can lie back on them as your face gets an energetic massage treatment.
I filled in a detailed questionnaire about my skin, including questions about treatments like peels or Botox that I might have had recently ( I haven’t ) and then my therapist talked me through things before putting my face through Face Gym strokes. My therapist turned out to be a talkative girl who started calling me ‘darling’ from the beginning – future note, please don’t, I am a paying customer who hasn’t just popped in to a local greengrocer. When booking my appointment I wanted to have a Signature Workout with an addition of Mouth Work but having asked about why I wanted to have it done, I was talked out of having it, gently and pleasantly, saying that it is quite an intense treatment addition as therapist’s hands will be inside your mouth and it generally benefits people who grind their teeth, have headaches or jaw tension, so we agreed to proceed with a Signature Workout ( I very much appreciated the honesty, as two well-off ladies who came it after me had a totally different pitch done to them ).
You sit down in the chair, which is pulled back when you are being Face Gym-ed, and a therapist shows you the tools – two simple facial brushes, a derma-roller and a jade roller. All instruments are sterilised but that makes some of them look quite unattractive, for example my own jade roller looks almost new, a few years after I purchased it ( even though it isn’t a perfectly designed tool to start with ) but the one that I was shown looked hardly ravishing due to regular sterilizing process ( I wash mine with a face foaming cleanser a few time s a week and it still looks shiny).
The products that are used during Face Gym Signature Workout are designed especially for the treatment by none other than holistic facialist Alexandra Soveral and are available to purchase after your treatment ( the facial mist smells of lemongrass, the cleanser is nourishing and smells heavenly as well ). Your hair is pulled back and after a cleanse the actual massage starts -you have a choice of light, medium or strong pressure before the facial workout and the therapist encouraged me to tell her whether I liked the pressure or wanted it lighter or stronger.
The actual Signature Workout takes 30 minutes, with a hustle and bustle of the shopping mecca somewhere in the background, as you are separated from the main floor by steps and glass partitions. There is a Warm Up ( ‘a deep cleanse of your skin followed by vigorous knuckling movement followed by skin brushing to remove dead skin cells, boost the lymphatic system and kick-start the detox’ ) While the cleansing and the brushing are light and pleasant, the actual knuckling movements are like putting your face through the wind tunnel but it is in no way unpleasant. You know the feeling you get when you are doing vigorous exercise, when you body warms up? Well, that’s the sensation you will experience on your face without lifting your own finger.
Then comes Cardio ( ‘a combination of high energy, quick, whipping strokes to stimulate blood circulation, collagen production and cell renewal, bringing a rosy glow to your face’ ). I can’t comment on the rosy glow while lying prone on the reclined chair but somehow I was finding the process of the strong massage that I tend to favour, quite relaxing and my mind was drifting off, even though on two occasions another therapist came along and proceeded to discuss the staff rotas with my therapists – mildly annoying & distracting, when you come for a treatment of any kind you don’t want chit-chat at the same time you are being treated.
The actual massage wakes up your face and makes you realise that like you body, your face has many muscles and it is very gratifying to have someone work on them, as you let your mind drift into relaxation.
The next stage of the face Gym is Strength and it is focussed on ‘sculpting and micro-contouring, targeting the network of connective tissue and muscles to lift, tone and tighten the face. The deep muscle work is spliced with high-intensity rhythmic percussion fingers that excite the muscle and boost energy flow, while derma ‘weights’ are used to iron our fine lines and wrinkles’. Your whole face, including cheek bones, the eyebrows, the eye area and orbital bones, the contours of the face are tended to, with your jaw-line and neck muscles coming into play as well, all the while you feel like drifting off to sleep even though you can feel the vigour of massage movements. I must admit that my therapist had nails that were longish enough to skim my face-no, she didn’t scratch it but there is a difference between fingers moving over your face and nails grazing the skin.
The final part is the Cooldown when a cool jade roller ‘with healing properties is glided across the skin to even skin tone and support lymphatic drainage, followed by a mist of hydrating toner to awaken the face’. This part of the treatment is soothing and relaxing and definitely less vigorous, a perfect end to the circle of this treatment. When the therapist was finished, she gave me a mirror – my face looked deeply flushed and very rosy, so you might consider going to the bathroom and applying a BB cream or concealer after it – as I came after a gym workout I had no qualms about putting my sunglasses on and going back home on the tube – by the time I arrived home my face looked like it did before the treatment.
My therapist, who is a freelancer, is certainly knowledgable about the skin and I had an interesting conversation with her about humefectant effect of some skincare products, however her calling me ‘darling’ throughout our conversations was quite annoying.
Did I notice a difference in my face at the end of the day? Not really. Did the redness disappear fairly quickly? Indeed it did. Did my face feel nice after it? It did and I must admit that if it wasn’t for longish nails of my therapist, I thoroughly enjoyed my Face Gym ( especially post the gym body workout ) session. Would I come to have it again? To be honest, I am not so sure but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy the experience.
Spa Junkie Facegym Signature Workout protocol at Selfridges ( tel. 0800123400, ext. 12054 ) lasts 30 minutes and costs £35. You can also have add on extras to the Signature Treatment:
– scalp/brow/jaw lift £15,
– Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic acid £20,
– 111 Skin Biocellulose treatment mask £25,
– Mouth Work £65,
– Advanced Technology ( radio frequency, micro current, cryotherapy ) £125 or
– Skin Resurfacing £200
There are also interesting skincare and face tools on offer for you to browse and to consider introducing into your daily skincare routine.