Does Your Face Need a Gym?

In West Hollywood, a science-driven company is reinventing the facial

Face Gym LA
Your face needs a workout.
Yvonne TNT
By Trevor Morrow / December 10, 2019 8:31 am

In Los Angeles, the volume of spas, salons and other cosmetic-minded business that’ll give you a standard facial seem to outnumber the palm trees. But in this town, let’s be honest: that’s simply a matter of supply meeting demand. It also means that you’ve got options for quite literally every type of facial that exists on this green earth: European, cryo, oxygen, vampire, laser, microcurrent … the list is long and inscrutable.

If you’re starting puzzlingly at your screen right now, let’s back up a step. “Facial” is the broad term given to skin-enhancing treatments targeting the face, and getting one has been equated by many to brushing your teeth at home vs. having your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist. 

Male-specific interest in facials dates at least as far back as 1981, and according to the International Spa Association, spa attendance in the present day is split 50/50 between men and woman after decades of gender imbalance. But while most self care-conscious men are at least aware of the facial, I’d wager most guys have yet to partake. 

If you haven’t, perhaps figuring out which facial is right for you has led to inaction. Or maybe it all seems a bit unnecessary, indulgent or un-masculine, to which we say, in order: sure, you’ll survive without getting facials; don’t look at it as an indulgence, look at it as prudent maintenance; and grow up.

Offering up the latest option for your facial consideration, and one that may change the way you look at maintaining your mug, is Face Gym, a place where “high energy kneading movements and cutting edge technology [are used] to tone and tighten the forgotten 40 muscles in the face.” 

The seemingly only-in-LA company is actually UK-based and boasts several locations in London along with three in New York City. Their newest “gym” and first West Coast location opened in West Hollywood earlier this month, so I visited to find out: Does my face really need a gym? 

face gym
(Yvonne TNT)

The Vibe and The Basics 

Face Gym’s physical design is on point. The facilities will remind you more of a high-end gym than a beauty salon, and everything is pleasantly gender-neutral. They’ve removed all the frills, robes and soft music you associate with a spa facial experience — and actually, they’ve taken out the word facial, too (their slogan: “it’s not a facial, it’s a workout”).

Each one of these “workouts” includes a base of hands-only manipulation, which Face Gym describes as a “high-intensity sports massage” that “stimulates muscle myofascial release and response to increase muscle toning, circulation and lymph drainage that in turn promotes intercellular exchange.” Hands-only workouts include the Signature and Yoga Face ($70 and $90), and from there prices go up to $340, depending on the machine-assisted add-ons included in your workout or added a la carte. 

(Yvonne TNT)

How It Works 

Once in the chair, your only job is to sit back and let a member of the Face Gym staff (called trainers) do all the work. Each treatment begins with a 10-15 consultation with your “trainer” to determine your skin needs; from there, your trainer will apply one or more of Face Gym’s signature serums and get to work. The hands-only components of workouts typically last about 30 minutes. 

Each workout is broken down into three sections: warm up, cardio sculpting and cool down. During the warm up, the goal is to, well, get your face warm through light stretching and facial stimulation. From there, during cardio, your trainer employs higher-intensity hand work and muscle manipulation techniques. Finally, during the cool down, things return to a slower pace to calm your skin and leave you relaxed. 

During this process, add-ons (called “boosters”) various add-ons are available, from the Face Gym trademarked SKIN IV (used to deliver vitamins and other nutrients to the skin) to cryo oxygen (“a high pressure shot of frozen CO2 delivered with a powerful concentration of atomized active ingredients to hydrate and plump”) to radio frequency (the most expensive and results-driven option, which claim to boost collagen and tighten sagging skin). 

(Yvonne TNT)

Does It Work? 

I got the $95 Signature Electrical, which is a hands-only treatment plus 10 minutes of the Face Gym Pro (a handheld electrical muscle stimulation device said to lift, tone and tighten by strengthening the facials muscles). 

My trainer started her work on one side of my face, and then, in an effort to show me this whole thing wasn’t a scam, stopped to demonstrate the difference between the treated and untreated sides of my face. She stopped to show me three times, and each time, there was a noticeable improvement in my complexion.

At the end of the workout, my face did look tighter and more toned. Not ”new face”-level results, but what my trainer did … did something. The most noticeable improvement, however, was around my eyes, which appeared more open, giving me the general appearance of seeming more awake.

After the workout, I found myself glancing in the mirror more than usual. To borrow a phrase from popular culture, I was feeling myself. 

(Yvonne TNT)

Is It Worth It? 

This isn’t a silver bullet. Face Gym says the results last 7-10 days, but after day two, I can’t say I could still see the difference in my face. One would assume, however, that working out your face is like working out your other muscles: you can’t go to the gym once and except to have abs all summer.

According to Face Gym, “as with all workouts, FaceGym needs to be performed on a regular basis in order to see and maintain results. We advise regular workouts 1-2 times a month.” Other Face Gym protocols call for one workout per week for 4-7 weeks to establish meaningful results, then a maintenance workout every six weeks. 

Whether or not this is true, and what the results would be, I can’t say, since I only did one session. But it does seem logical that the more you go, the better the results. Also logical in this scenario, the more you spend, the better the results, as the tech-aided boosters will help ensure you see dividends.

Obviously developing a Face Gym habit will cost you. So unless you’re ready to make a long-term investment, this probably isn’t for you. If I had unlimited funds, though? Sure, I’d stick with Face Gym for a few months to see what happened.

(Yvonne TNT)

Pro Tips 

If being a regular at Face Gym isn’t something your wallet will allow, one-off visits can still be worth it. If you have an important event you’d like to look your best for, consider a visit to Face Gym the morning of. It also seems like a great option for those landing in LA, NYC or London after a long-haul flight, when stopping in for a quick workout would combat the effects that dry air, salty airplane food and a lack of sleep have on your skin.