Tonic Room AcuFacial, Review: Acupunture In Your Face

By Lucy Slight
The AcuFacial at Kingsland health and beauty boutique Tonic Room. Photo / Sophia Doak

If it seems like everyone you know is getting Botox but you’re still not quite convinced, it might be time to consider a more holistic alternative: facial acupuncture. Yes, there are needles involved (even more needles than a Botox treatment) but the lack of botulism toxin might be the thing

Tonic Room, a health and beauty boutique in Kingsland, Auckland, has recently added the AcuFacial to its lineup of holistic treatments. The treatment combines all the relaxing benefits of a facial with acupuncture to increase blood circulation, balance moisture and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin in the skin to reveal a brighter and firmer complexion.

As a working mother with two young children, I will always jump at the chance to try a treatment that promises to give me back my glow, so when I was offered 90 minutes of relaxation and the chance to increase my collagen production with it, I was all in.

The practice

Unlike traditional cosmetic acupuncture treatments, the Tonic Room’s take involves 45 minutes of facial massage before moving onto the needles. I settled into the warmed bed and my facialist Andrea cleansed by skin before applying a nourishing Tata Harper mask to my skin and a luxurious oil to my shoulders.

I could tell she immediately felt my tight, tense shoulder muscles because before she began on my face, she really worked to ease the tension with a firm massage, which felt like pure heaven and was exactly what I didn’t know I needed.

Facialist Andrea McCall uses a gua sha to encourage circulation and release tension in the facial muscles. Photo / Sophia Doak
Facialist Andrea McCall uses a gua sha to encourage circulation and release tension in the facial muscles. Photo / Sophia Doak

I find that most shoulder massages that are performed as part of a facial tend to lack oomph, but this was just what the doctor (or maybe physio) ordered. Once she’d worked by neck and shoulders, Andrea moved onto the facial massage, using both a gua sha and her hands to target tension, encourage lymphatic drainage and increase circulation in the skin to make it even more receptive to the acupuncture that was to come.

Once my 45 minutes were up (to be honest, I didn’t want this part to end!), Andrea brought acupuncturist Kiki into the room to take over the treatment. Kiki asked me what sort of results I was looking for, and I explained that I was very much into achieving an all-over glow but would love a little bit of lift in the eye area to make me look more awake and well rested. She began by placing three needles in my feet (she later told me these were the kidney and liver points, which are integral to target when you want a glowing-skin result), then moved onto my face.

The ultra-fine needles are actually much finer than traditional acupuncture needles and delicately penetrate the skin barrier to create micro-traumas in the skin. This prompts the skin to naturally work to ‘heal what’s broken,’ firming and tightening the skin in response.

Acupuncturist Kiki Chen inserts micro-fine needles into specific acupuncture points in the face. Photo / Sophia Doak
Acupuncturist Kiki Chen inserts micro-fine needles into specific acupuncture points in the face. Photo / Sophia Doak

I’m not going to lie, I have had acupuncture many times before — I am a firm believer in the healing benefits of this ancient technique — but getting acupuncture in your face is quite a lot more uncomfortable than the rest of the body. Kiki immediately felt that I was holding most of my tension in my left side and asked if I was left-handed. I’m not, but I’ve always felt like my energy is more dominant in my left side, so perhaps that’s where the tension comes from.

Regardless, because of the tightness of the muscles here, I felt a dull ache with every needle that went in, but in most places, the pain level dropped away after a few seconds. Once all the needles were in place (I don’t know how many exactly, but I would say around 20), Kiki left me to relax for around 30 minutes, popping back halfway through the treatment to make sure I was comfortable.

Once my rest time was up, the needles were quickly and painlessly removed. Admittedly, there was one spot on my cheek that felt quite tender, but I had no bruising or marks on the skin immediately following the treatment, nor did any appear over time.

The place

The Tonic Room AcuFacial is available from 465 New North Rd, Kingsland.

The price

$290 for a 90-minute treatment and is suitable for all skin types.

The verdict

I had to race to get out the door and back to the car to pick my children up from daycare, so I didn’t get to ease my way out of the treatment, but when I looked in my rear vision mirror, I was surprised by how pink, plump and glowing my skin appeared. I had not a stitch of makeup on, but my skin looked radiant and full of life; exactly what you want to see after any kind of facial. I was worried that I might develop a headache or feel lightheaded following the treatment but thankfully I felt no ill effects whatsoever.

In the days that followed, my skin stayed looking clear and glowing, and I am happy to say that I really do feel like my eye area looked more lifted and awake. My eyes were very clear too and where I usually feel puffy in the mornings upon waking, I have not experienced this at all in the past few days.

I would say this is a wonderful treatment to do before an event if you’re looking for noticeable results from a treatment that — while slightly painful at times — really is a gentle and nourishing experience.

Unlock this article and all our Viva Premium content by subscribing to 

Share this article: