I know what you’re thinking already, “ugh, this first world betch.” That’d be a fair statement if you didn’t know what FaceLove was, because the idea of a personal trainer for anything generally just sounds really uppity, but the concept of FaceLove, a facial massage and exercise mini-spa in NYC, is actually rooted in some of the oldest, simplest, DIY beauty wisdom out there: circulation and muscle strength is the key to everything gorgeous. Unlike a lot of the spas you might typically see, this one aims to teach you the basics of keeping your facial skin and muscular tissue so you can take what you’ve learned and use the info for the rest of your life on your own face vs schlepping back into their chairs every few days (but you can do that too, if you’d like). There’s something wonderful to be said about honest business, and my experience there was beauty-routine changing in a permanently positive way, so I figured I’d share some of what I learned with you in the off chance you’re unable to make it to Manhattan for a facial fitness session (but honestly, if you’re here, you should try, because it’s everything).
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1. This isn’t a sweaty workout, but there are balls.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I headed in for my facial fitness session, so I wore comfy, loose clothing in the off chance that serious sweat would occur. There wasn’t much of that because the treatment turned out to be more like facial yoga combined with massage and loads of balls on my face. Your makeup will come off though, so don’t bother with your best contouring pre-FaceLove.
2. Facial skin actually receives the least love, but needs it the most.
According to Rachel Lang, the pro responsible for whipping my lax facial muscles into shape, “The skin is the largest organ of the body and the last to receive vital nutrients. The face receives even less due to tension in the neck that blocks circulation from flowing to the front of the face.” Ugh, I knew my constantly sore neck was the worst, and now I can blame it for all my skin dramas, too.
3. The skin is responsible for a lot of the body’s elimination and detox, which makes circulation super important.
Rachel explained the how facial skin is especially responsible for detox, protection, and absorption as it’s one of the few body parts left constantly exposed. She also shared that “Stress creates inflammation, swelling, and rigid cellular structure causing damaged cells to surface.” Regular facial massage and stretching can lead to near-instantly brighter, better-looking skin thanks to how fast it improves circulation. After my 30 minute session I walked out of there looking as bright and dewy as I did in college, and I was pretty excited about that as a 32 year old mom of almost 4 kids.
4. This is one of the few intense facials and/or workouts you can do when you’re pregnant.
Speaking of pregs, I’m very much so and was at the time of this treatment, too. That means my beloved Barre and cardio yoga classes are out of the question for the next few weeks (at least), and I’m simply too cautious to be the kind of gal who schleps to some random facial bar that uses tons of beauty products with unknown chemicals, retinoids, and other potentially-harmful lotions and potions. Having Rachel act as a personal trainer for my face also helped reduce all the facial swelling I was experiencing from the hormone surges, addiction to homemade nachos, and generally crappy circulation thanks to being in my third trimester.
5. Scalp massage is seriously an important part of facial fitness, too.
As wild and weird as it seems, it’s true — because scalp circulation is incredibly important for healthy hair growth and sharing blood supply with the rest of the face and neck areas. Rachel shared with me (as she vigorously rubbed my scalp, bless her) that there are also a ton of pressure points hidden in the scalp and ear areas that release tension and detoxify the entire system. I’ve made a habit of doing my own mini-scalp massage every night before bed now, and I’m pretty sure my hair is better for it already.
6. There are all sorts of weird facial massage gadgets you can use at home.
I think I saw at least 10 varieties of balls and torture-looking devices at FaceLove. I’m happy to report none of them hurt, all of them felt great, and I’m now the proud owner of some kind of facial circulation device that helps with lymphatic drainage. I have no idea what it’s called, but you can get an inexpensive one from The Body Shop like this, or go all out and get spa-level balls like I did.
7. Lymphatic drainage is possibly the most magical solution to a thinner-looking face ever.
A good part of the techniques Rachel teaches are actually to stimulate lymphatic drainage in the face and neck areas. Basically, fluid accumulates in/near our sinuses, glands, and other areas and can give us that puffy look that is so dreaded and often hard to sort out without tons of contouring (and honestly, if you can get away with less makeup, that should always be the plan). This YouTube lady I found is sort of trippy, but she gives a good home drainage tutorial that’ll help explain how to hustle on this at home.
8. We should all be “applying pressure” every morning and evening.
Rachel showed me how to use what she called “medium pressure” with her fingertips on my face. Imagine applying your moisturizer in a really deep, intense massage way. Apparently that alone is enough to get blood and lymph moving and could be one of the easiest ways to enhance your existing beauty routine without a change of products or even timing. She explained that “Half the benefit you see with using products is that you have to touch your skin to put them on, increasing circulation and turning on your own body mechanics.”
9. There is absolutely no reason to spend $300 on a face cream if you can massage your own damn face and have normal-ish skin.
This shocked me in all the best possible ways. Put down your La Mer and La Prairie immediately unless you’re just the type who loves pissing money away (are you?). Apparently any good, hydrating and anti-oxidant rich cream will do your face just fine if it matches your skin type. Why? Because the key to making your skin better is the combination of treating your body the right way from within, and then lots of frequent circulation boosters, like facial fitness. The cream can just be considered a hydration technique, which is almost certainly not worth $300.
10. There are desk-stretches you can do to actually amp up your facial fitness.
I love the idea of getting fit from my chair. Rachel suggests that just about everyone able to does her head/neck stretches at least once a day to release tension that blocks nutrients from making it to the front of the face. She recommends interlacing your hands behind your head at the neck, and then dropping your head and elbows for 3-5 deep breaths. This should be repeated if possible, and encourages gravity to force circulation to the upper body. Easy peasy.
I’ve been working facial massage into my morning skincare routine and adding an acupressure element to my post-Clarisonic nightly cleansing and have noticed my skin looks brighter and less puffy since beginning about two weeks ago. Even if you can’t make it to Rachel’s chair any time soon, the easy facial massage and stretching techniques are beauty game changers, and I’d totally recommend them to anyone with a face.
You can find out more about FaceLove Fitness here.