I Went to FaceGym—and It Was a Game-Changer
Let's get physical.
by : Joanna Fox- Oct 6th, 2023
The first time I heard about Facegym, I was in Los Angeles for work. I was staying at 1 Hotel in West Hollywood, and my itinerary included a session at the celeb-fave facial studio next door. When I showed up for my “Signature Sculpt” appointment, I had no idea what to expect. Over the next 45 minutes, I sat comfortably in a dentist-chair-like recliner in the open-plan studio and listened to music by Rihanna, Dua Lipa and Beyoncé while my face got the workout of its life. And it was fabulous.
My “trainer” explained to me that our face has more than 40 muscles and that just like working out any other part of our body, we can also sculpt and tighten these muscles. As she used techniques like “knuckling,” “pinching,” “hooking” and “whipping,” I began to feel a difference on the side of my face being worked on. The release of tension from my jaw alone felt absolutely life-changing. Halfway through the treatment, I looked in the mirror and actually saw that my skin was tighter on one side. It was wild.
Designed to encourage collagen production, stimulate blood circulation, boost the lymphatic system, release tension and increase cell renewal, FaceGym’s non-invasive treatments use products and tools that are unique to the brand—and have become cult favourites for those in the know. When I walked out of there, all dewy and glowing, my face had never looked or felt better. I immediately had to find out more about this company and the woman behind it: South African-born, London-based Inge Theron.
FaceGym founder Inge Theron
Theron, as it turns out, is no stranger to the world of beauty. She used to be the “spa junkie” for British newspaper Financial Times, going undercover to test out all the latest spa treatments and then reporting back in her weekly column. “I travelled the world for a good six years, so you can imagine how many different things I saw and tried,” Theron tells me over Zoom. “Then I got into spa and medi-spa design, and that kicked off what I do today—I look at beauty, wellness, the face and the skin in an entirely fresh and unique way.”
When Theron was designing spas, she would research the latest information on functional fitness, aesthetics, nutrition and beauty brands because she is all about healing the whole self. “I think that’s how FaceGym came to me,” she says. “Six years of facials, spas, treatments, medi-spas, detoxes and meeting many of the biggest thinkers in this space—it builds up in your mind.”
Theron had also been having more invasive treatments while working for the Financial Times because her editors wanted her to try all the latest and greatest procedures that promised to help turn back the clock—and that’s when things started to go horribly wrong. “I realized I had actually aged myself so badly,” she says. “I didn’t even see it when I was having all that invasive work done. Seeing so many specialists over the years broke my confidence because they would look at me and say ‘Oh, yeah, well we could do that’ and ‘Oh, you need some treatment.’ They were constantly pointing out [my flaws] to me.”
“Seeing so many specialists over the years broke my confidence because they would look at me and say ‘Oh, yeah, well we could do that’ and ‘Oh, you need some treatment.’”
For Theron, help came in the form of a trip to Mexico to work with psycho-spiritual practitioner Bobby Klein (who sadly passed away last year) on building her confidence and, more importantly, learning to be confident about aging. “Part of that [process] was working with Inca healers,” she says. “They had to massage out the threads and the Botox and the fillers that had been put in my face.” Through this daily massage and drainage, which included muscle manipulation and facial exercises that acted almost as resistance training, Theron’s face became tighter and more sculpted. And during an ayahuasca (a plant-based psychedelic) trip, she saw the words “face” and “gym” going back and forth interchangeably and was like, “What is that?” But it stuck with her, and six months later, she launched the company.
“A warm-up, cardio, sculpting and a cool-down [make up] the muscle-based workout,” says Theron of the basic FaceGym sesh. “The warm-up is when you use your knuckles because my research shows that massage creates collagen, the bedrock of great skin and the protein that we’re all after. After that initial opening of the lymphatic drainage pathways to de-puff, the cardio part moves all those toxins and water retention and gets rid of them. Then there’s the sculpting, which is a deep tissue massage plus electric muscle stimulation, and a cool-down. I needed to keep it really, really simple and authentic.”
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Since its inception in 2014, FaceGym has amassed a following of devoted clients (including celebs like Sienna Miller, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Stephanie Hsu, Kerry Washington, Melissa McCarthy and Suki Waterhouse) and expanded from the U.K. to the U.S. and Australia—and Theron hopes to eventually bring it to Canada. But for Canadians who want to try it out, Theron has developed a line of products and tools, which are available online, that go some way toward recreating the experience at home.
The key to a lot of the FaceGym products is collagen—either it’s an ingredient or its production is triggered. The most popular one, which Theron calls “the holy grail,” is the Active Blast, a vegan collagen booster in the form of a freeze-dried sphere that you dissolve in your hand with a few drops of the brand’s Hydro-Bound Daily Serum and apply to your face using a prescribed contour application method. (All of the products have QR codes you can scan for links to pages that show how to properly apply or use them.) “Active Blast is our number one bestseller in all markets,” says Theron. “It’s a biotech collagen ingredient that’s 200 times stronger than any marine collagen you’ll find in a cream—it’s so effective because it’s absorbed so much better.”
Another favourite is the Electro-Lite Gel Cleanser. “We believe in a good cleanser, and this one is packed with minerals that are really good for the skin microbiome,” says Theron. “It’s really a revolution in exfoliation.” One last product she gushes about is the Skin Changer, which is designed to prep the skin for serum and moisturizer. “It’s an essence and a toner in one, and that actually works because it doesn’t strip your skin,” she says. “It contains super-hydrating succinic acid, which is just the unicorn of acids for me right now.”
So whether you try out one of FaceGym’s studios or give some of the products and routines a go at home, you’ll experience the power of exercising your face. “We have a healthy, scientific, clinically proven approach, but it’s still fun,” says Theron. “And I think that’s what makes our offering unique.” Unique, certainly, but it’s also something that makes you instantly look and feel better. What more could you ask of a workout?
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