Can These Manual Skin Treatments Really Change The Shape Of Your Face?

By Ashleigh Cometti
Defy gravity with three skin treatments that forgo needles or knives to achieve results. Photo / The Facialist

These three facial sculpting treatments are gadget-free, relying instead on practices like massage and acupuncture.

In a surprising twist, given the number of high-tech treatments we have at our fingertips, a few skin clinics are eschewing the lure of the digital age in favour of remaining gadget-free, instead relying on

High-touch, holistic facial treatments act as an alternative to more invasive procedures like injectables or facial surgeries, but just because they don’t buzz or whirr doesn’t mean their results are any less impressive.

Chiselled cheekbones and a “snatched” jawline are just some of the results you can expect from these non-invasive skin treatments that take a more natural route when it comes to carving out contours.

One such treatment is facial sculpting massage, which is cropping up on treatment menus at skin clinics around the country, explains certified sculpting massage specialist and founder of Face Up Beauty Olga Newman, who says it’s an excellent alternative to Botox and fillers and gleans real, visible results.

“Muscles and fascia pull on the skin, and posture has a part to play in tension in our face these can be targeted by sculpting, whereas injectables cannot address these issues,” she says, adding that the benefits of the practice aren’t just skin deep. “When you release emotional clamps from the body, it releases in the face, too.”

Below, our take on the gravity-defying treatments said to sculpt facial contours, carve out cheekbones and leave skin glowing.

The Facialist offers three facial fitness treatments: F.Sculpt, F.Sculpt+, and F.Sculpt Intense. Photo / @Thefacialist_
The Facialist offers three facial fitness treatments: F.Sculpt, F.Sculpt+, and F.Sculpt Intense. Photo / @Thefacialist_

F.Sculpt at The Facialist

A worthy upgrade to The Facialist’s cult-favourite yoga facial, the newly introduced F.Sculpt is touted by founder Ashleigh Scott as a facial workout and calls for a combination of cardio and high-intensity facial massage to strengthen, stretch and sculpt the face.

The facial fitness protocol works three-fold to alleviate built-up tension in the face, strengthen facial muscles for a natural, lifting effect, and impart a radiant glow to skin.

Each F.Sculpt facial workout begins in the same way as a physical one with a warmup. A series of rhythmic movements helps to wake up the skin’s metabolism and stimulate blood flow, while boosting oxygenation and collagen production.

Next, sculpting and lifting motions help carve out facial contours, defining the cheekbones and jawline. Finally, F.Sculpt borrows intra-oral techniques adapted by buccal massage, whereby a therapist dons gloves and uses rolling motions with their thumbs inside your mouth and forefingers to target the cheeks and jaw.

The treatment was test driven by beauty editor Ashleigh Cometti when it launched in late June. “Vigorous in nature, this facial workout is true to its name. I’m typically one to fall asleep in facials, and when I joked about the potential of this happening at the start of my appointment, my therapist had a little giggle to herself,” she says.

Ashleigh says some clients see a visible difference after their first appointment, although in many cases results are cumulative. “For best results, consistency is key when it comes to skincare and these workouts,” she says. “You can see lasting results from regular sessions.”

The price: Prices start from $149 for a 30-minute treatment, $199 for a 45-minute F.Sculpt+ treatment, or $249 for F.Sculpt Intense, which includes the addition of micro-current to stimulate and contract facial muscles.

The place: Shed 16.3/90 Wellesley Street West, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010.

Face Sculpting Massage by Olga Newman at Face Up Beauty

“It’s a philosophy, not just a treatment,” says Olga Newman of her 60-minute facial sculpting treatment, which includes a comprehensive consultation to evaluate not only your skin goals but to act as a check-in both physically and emotionally.

Deputy editor Johanna Thornton was invited to Olga’s Grey Lynn clinic to trial the treatment and despite her lack of familiarity with the holistic massage technique she says she was impressed by the befores and afters, which seemed to wipe years from her clients, changing not only the shape of their face but also the skin’s colour and suppleness.

The treatment calls for a combination of massage and tension-melting techniques, says Johanna, and works to release stagnation and stress while sculpting and lifting the face. Swelling is reduced, as are fine lines. “It’s vigorous and enjoyable, and she encourages me to relax into it along the way, aware that my eyelids are rapidly fluttering, a sign I’m holding on to stress,” Johanna says.

On the subject of stress, Olga explains that the treatment can stir up suppressed emotions for many clients. “While I didn’t experience a deeper emotional release, I did leave the treatment feeling rejuvenated and cared for, and my skin felt incredible,” Johanna says. “Sometimes all you want from a facial is the massage component, and this is that and so much more.”

The price: The one-hour treatment is priced at $380, and for best results, Olga recommends four to six fortnightly appointments to kick-start the process, followed by a monthly maintenance appointment. Should you wish to support your results at home, Olga shares a range of videos to her Instagram page, with DIY treatments showing how best to massage the face and neck, alongside online courses.

The place: 7 Vinegar Lane, Grey Lynn.

At Origins, they use a thing needle (between 0.10mm to 0.14mm) for a painless treatment. Photo / @Originsacu_nz
At Origins, they use a thing needle (between 0.10mm to 0.14mm) for a painless treatment. Photo / @Originsacu_nz

Miso Face Acupuncture at Origins

Facial sculpting massage aside, cosmetic acupuncture is also said to help carve out facial contours by aiding the lymphatic system (thereby reducing puffiness) and boosting skin elasticity and tone.

Amy Chen, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and director of Origins Acupuncture, says Miso Face cosmetic acupuncture works on the superficial muscular aponeurotic system (SMAS) that controls the movement of facial muscles and supports facial tissues.

“As we age or with fatigue, stress or poor lifestyle, the SMAS loosens and its support decreases plus, with gravity, it causes our skin to become loose and sag, and we lose the firmness, contour of our skin and elasticity,” Amy explains.

Miso Face cosmetic acupuncture helps sculpt the face by inserting extremely fine, hair-like needles into the tissue structure of the skin (the epidermis and fascia) at a depth of 5mm to stimulate the SMAS layer, to pull and lift skin, combatting sagginess and the effects of gravity. The needle positioning is specific, and Amy says each one is placed to achieve a deliberate effect.

“Some shallow needles are used to make the epidermis and fascia go in the right direction; for superficial facial muscles, we relax the lines formed by expressions (such as frown lines, laugh lines, marionette lines, etc.) by inserting needles perpendicularly to the muscle contraction,” she says.

Unlike traditional acupuncture, where needles are inserted into acupressure points on the face, Miso Face cosmetic acupuncture avoids these points and instead focuses on treating the fascia and its supporting ligaments.

The treatment begins with a double cleanse before needles are applied to the face and left to work their magic for 20 minutes, with the option of adding on an LED light treatment while you wait. A gua sha facial and scalp massage round out the experience.

The number of treatments required to see results varies between age groups, Amy says, adding she recommends a course of six to 10 treatments once or twice a week to start with, then maintenance appointments monthly for those aged 20-30, fortnightly for those aged 30-40, and once or twice a week for those aged 40+.

The price: Miso Cosmetic Acupuncture is priced from $125 for a one-hour treatment, or $180 for a one-hour-fifteen treatment.

The place: The Villa, 37 Jervois Road, Ponsonby.

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