We tried a new skincare treatment that promises to tone and lift the muscles in your face
As equal parts workout and skincare junkie, I was immediately intrigued when I heard about a new facial described as "yoga for the face." (Not to be confused with workout classes for your face, FYI.) Utilizing a combination of radiofrequency and microcurrent, the beauty treatment claims to shorten and lengthen the muscles in your face, toning them and resulting in a more lifted look. But does it actually work?
The Claim: The Anti-Gravity Facial ($225; available at George the salon in Chicago), promises to tone and lift (hence the name), thanks to a handheld device that uses a microcurrent to shorten and lengthen the muscles in your face (hence the yoga comparison). Ultrasonic technology, radiofrequency, and LED light therapy are also part of the treatment, promising to encourage cell renewal, push topicals deeper into skin, and stimulate skin cells.
The Experience: After some standard facial procedure (cleansing, exfoliating), my esthetician first used an ultrasonic machine to help deep clean my complexion. The tool looked like a small metal spatula, which vibrated as she ran it across my skin. It was totally painless—a definite improvement over typical extractions. Next came the toning device, which simultaneously delivered the microcurrent and radiofrequency. It felt slightly tingly, though not uncomfortable. The esthetician focused on the areas of my face where the muscles are very active and gravity takes hold first (think nasolabial folds, the forehead, and the jawline). Since I'm only in my late twenties, and don't (yet) have noticeable sagging, I asked whether this had any preventative benefits and was told it does; it helps keep the muscles toned and lifted even before they start to go lax and droop. An LED light was also placed directly above my skin. It was bright, but didn't cause any kind of sensation. After several minutes under the light and device, the service ended with a delightful application of moisturizer. (Psst... Stock up on these 10 Facial Peels to Banish Dead Winter Skin.)
The Results: My skin definitely felt slightly tighter and more taut—especially across my cheeks and jawline—immediately post-treatment, but that only lasted for a few hours. (My aesthetician did point out that, just like yoga or going to the gym, it takes a few sessions to see results.) The improvement in the texture of my skin was much more noticeable and dramatic; it looked and felt smooth and soft, the tiny blackheads near my nose were gone, and I had a nice glow going.
The Derm's Take: While I enjoyed the facial, I was still curious about the muscle-toning aspect, so I asked New York City cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank to weigh in on the benefits of these kinds of beauty treatments. He explained that the muscles in your face aren't quite like those in your body: "Unlike skeletal muscles, which we can induce the growth of with exercise, the muscles in the face are totally different and can't be strengthened the same way," he says. Radiofrequency can stimulate collagen (this leads to tighter, smoother skin), but it has to heat the skin to 40 degrees Celsius in order to do so, Frank adds. Still, there may be some positive effects to the other technologies used in the facial. "Ultrasound can help the penetration of cosmeceuticals and LED light is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that can be of benefit," he explains.
The Bottom Line: As far as facials go, this was a great one. A yoga session for my face. The jury's still out on that one.