I Tried an £130 FaceGym ‘Face Workout’. Here’s My Verdict
Main image – Courtesy of writer
Beauty technology is a booming business but while a lot of us might work out our bodies (even if it is only when remember/have time/it’s not raining out), how many of us work out our faces?
Enter the world of facial ‘workouts’; treatments and tools designed to help us defy gravity for just that little bit longer.
And it was that promise of lifted, glowing skin that saw me visit salon FaceGym, which essentially offers workouts for the face.
First launched in 2014 and with studios across London, Manchester as well as New York, Los Angeles and Sydney, they use a variety of techniques and unique combinations of exercise moves like knuckling, pinching and more to train and lift the facial muscles. They promise firmer skin, an increase in collagen production and stimulation of the blood circulation.
But how did I get on? And- crucially- were the results worth the (ahem) hefty pricetag?
The idea is simple; as we age the skin becomes more lax and the face eventually becomes more droopy –thanks gravity! So, the FaceGym workouts not only tone the muscles but also de-puff the face. Why? The massage movements will move the fluid from your face to the lymphatic system, which will make your face more snatched, instantly.
Our body’s lymphatic system is essential for pushing out toxins from the body, and it does so naturally, unless in certain illnesses. Our face may seem more puffy in the morning, after a night out, or after eating a lot of salty food.
FaceGym has seven different ‘workouts’; from a simple facial massage using hands only, to more complicated ones that include gua sha, radio frequency and pore cleaning.
Before my treatment, I was excited and curious to see what exactly this £130 ($200) face workout would involve. As I am well-versed in facial massaging (I’m actually a certified gua sha practitioner), I had no doubt my face would look de-puffed and glowing.
Per the experts, you may notice some redness or even dermatitis, especially when the massage is paired with strong actives. But generally, it’s considered a safe treatment.
I tried the ‘Clean + Lift’ workout (£130/$200 for 50 minutes, plus a 10-minute consultation), which combines the brand’s signature ‘muscle manipulation techniques’ paired with their exclusive ‘Skin IV™ technology’.
This is a machine that pushes water and acids to deeply clean out the pores –it feels like a cold wind, but more on that later– and then boosts it with vitamins and peptides.
I visited the Notting Hill branch which can seat about 5 customers simultaneously. The space features bright lights and a minimal design with red, grey and white, per the brand’s signature colours. The staff is friendly and accommodating.
The treatment starts with some questions from the therapist about my skin type, my skin concerns, my skincare routine and any areas that may need extra love.
As I get a lot of headaches and tension in my jaw, I asked her to focus on that area a little more. Rest assured, the treatment is for the whole face. The therapist also explains step-by-step what the treatment entails, so now is a good time to ask any questions.
I’m given a headband and sit on the comfortable chair. All of the products used during the treatment are from FaceGym’s own brand and are available for sale (apart from the big machines!).
Here’s a step-by-step of the treatment:
Step 1: Face cleansing
An essential part before every treatment. The therapist isn’t too rough with it, which is great, particularly around the sensitive eye area. The face is cleansed with a towel and pat dry with a tissue.
Step 2: Face Ball
Used to gently massage the face, this ball is so intriguing! It looks like a ball often used in pilates and yoga workouts. It’s a funny feeling at first, as I felt the plastic move my skin around. It’s also quite relaxing as the therapist gently pushes it down in tapping and circular motions. She also used it on my shoulders and upper chest, which felt very nice.
Step 3: Face massage
This involves a variety of massage moves on the face using the hands, aimed at the lifting of the face plus a gentle lymphatic drainage. This feels really nice and relaxing.
This stage is a little painful while she is working on my neck and jaw as they are both quite stiff, but no pain otherwise. I appreciate the extra love on my jaw, which is quite tense due to teeth grinding.
- The part I enjoyed the most was the forehead and brow movements.
- Here my face started to show some redness, which is normal and should go down a few hours post-treatment.
- The face massage lasts about 20 minutes.
Step 4: Gua sha
They use a stainless steel tool inspired by Gua sha to further lift the face. Because of the material, it was soothing and cooling on the skin. The movements feel soft on my skin.
- Here the was some extra focus on the cheeks to lift and tone them, as well as the smoothing out of the forehead, which is essential if you are staring at a screen all day!
Step 5: EMS (electrical muscle stimulation)
The therapist applies the conductive gel all over my face before going in with the EMS device.
- Although I’ve used similar devices at home, it was my first time trying them out as part of a facial and it was a strange feeling, as I felt parts of my face twitch. This device offers the ultimate lift and tone, thanks to its electric low-mid and high-frequency settings.
- The lift is very obvious after this step!
Step 6: Skin IV™ technology
- They blast your skin with ‘detox water’, acids and vitamins to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores.
- This felt very cooling on the skin and quite refreshing. It’s like a cool wind that washes all the grim from my pores away. I was hoping it would last a little longer though!
The treatment finishes with another minute of calming massage movements, which is lovely!
Post-workout, my skin felt super smooth and clean, but not dry. I was very much glowing and my cheeks were red, just like after a workout!
The clean and glowing appearance remained for quite a few days. Plus, my face was less puffy and my jaw was more relaxed. As you can see from the ‘after’ photo, my eyes and whole face looked more relaxed.
This may be a personal preference, but my only issue was that a customer sitting close to me was constantly on the phone, which was a bit annoying during my treatment.
The great thing about this treatment is that there’s no aftercare or downtime needed. My only recommendation would be to avoid actives (like retinol, vitamin C) for a couple of days and instead focus on soothing creams.
My favourite to use post-treatment is the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Gel B5 (£16.50 on Look Fantastic UK/$13.50 on Look Fantastic), plus the serum (£29.25 on Cult Beauty UK/$40.37 on Cult Beauty US) from the same line if I need some extra hydration.
So is the Face Gym workout worth it? During my treatment, I asked the therapist what the recommended frequency is for such a facial workout and she said weekly.
There are many 4 and 5-star reviews on the brand’s website, with hundreds of happy customers. The particular treatment has a 4.9 rating on their website with most customers sharing feelings similar to mine; how clean and glowing their skin looked!
Going to a clinic for a treatment is definitely a treat for many of us and thankfully there are cheaper, at-home alternatives. Although the results the specialised machines offer can’t be re-created at home, the facial massage and de-puffing can!
- Facial massage: I would recommend checking out facialist Abigail James and Anastasia Goron, who have great and informative videos
- Gua sha: take a look at The Hayo’u Method, which makes some of my favourite tools and crystals, as well as its founder Katie Brindle
- At-home microcurrent device: There are now plenty of options, from the FOREO Bear Mini (£209 on Cult Beauty UK/$288.42 on Cult Beauty US), to the classics Nuface and Ziip
- The one I’ve been testing lately and I’ve been enjoying is the TheraFace Pro (£375/$399 on the Therabody website), from the company that makes the famous body massage tools
- FaceGym also sells all the products used in the facial, from the EMS device (for a whopping £575/$520), to the Face Ball (£28/$33) and gua sha tools. To note, microcurrent and EMS are similar, but EMS provides more muscle stimulation
Overall, I loved the results and I would highly recommend you visit a FaceGym before a big event. The price point is comparable to facials in other Central London clinics (ie, pretty expensive) though so I don’t know how achievable having regular FaceGym facials would be for most people.
For my own skin type, I would probably pick the basic ‘workout’ next time, which is slightly cheaper (Signature Hands, £90/$125) and combine it with a treatment at a different clinic, like microneedling, Hydrafacial or a chemical peel.
I would absolutely visit FaceGym again, but not as often as my therapist recommended (who could afford to?). If I’m ever looking for fast results for the holiday season or before a big event though I’d definitely be happy to spend the money for a one-off facial.