The Tweakment Tart: A Really Painful Facial, That Really, Really Works

As far as Polly Vernon is concerned, when it comes to facials, if it ain't hurting, it ain't working

Remodelege facial

by Polly Vernon |
Updated on

I don’t believe in facials that don’t hurt. I can lay a hydrating mask gently upon my own décolletage! I can sweep serum mindfully (bleurgh) over my own cheeks! I don’t need a lady to do that for me. I’m not in this for the attention, or the chill; I’m in it for the results, and results, in my considerable experience, come with at least some element of pain, the sort of pain one can’t inflict upon oneself, because one would just stop. The pain of extractions, for example, where one has the gunk forcibly removed from deep in ones pores by a trained professional. The first time that happened to me, I was in my late twenties and doing a review of a fancy hotel en Paris, which arranged for me to have a facial in its on-premises spa with a woman who got her digits stuck so unexpectedly and violently into my tricksie round-the-nostrils area, I screamed, then nearly slapped la vache. Ever since, I’ve considered the just-contained desire to hit your own therapist as a sure sign you’re getting a top-notch tweakment.

Two of my favourite facials-which-hurt-because-they-work (work-because-they-hurt?) include Debbie Thomas’ IPL treatments (she shoots lasers at ya, and YEAH it stings), and Nichola Joss’ Sculpting Inner Facial, during which, she rams her fingers inside your mouth and reactivates your cheekbones from deep within, which is not only weird AF, it hurts. But bloody hell! Does it lift!

And now, there’s the Remodelege facial, an evolution on a famous French body treatment pioneered (en Paris encore) by Martine de Richeville, a renowned therapist who focuses on lymphatic drainage techniques as a way to reduce cellulite and aid weight loss. I had exactly that massage from her son, Julien, who’s ludicrously handsome been charged with introducing it to a British market, just last summer; and yes! It’s good! Distinctly French in its approach, vigorous and brusque, reassuringly painful in that deep-tissue massage burn way (I didn’t cry when he worked on me, but I’m hard; apparently, many others have). I’m beyond worrying about cellulite (it’s just skin, people), but Julien massaged me in the midst of that ridic, prolonged heat wave. I had noticed some odd heat-related lumpiness developing around my otherwise pretty silphy knees; his massage reduced that considerably.

So I was definitely up for the face version.

Lymphatic drainage facial massage works by flushing away the fluid deposits which make your face puff, bag and sag. Done well, it should deplete eye bags and double chins, sharpen jaw lines, perk up the contours on your face. Good lymph flow will also boost skin glow. And: “It’s not entirely comfortable,” says Louzie, who sets up my appointment. Promises, promises, I think.

I’m “done” by Donia, a protégée of Martine and Julien’s, who is quite as French as they, neat and cool and sharp and chic, in a quiet, expensive salon in South Kensington, London. She asks me to remove my top (I keep my bra on. My policy is: keep the bra and pants unless specifically instructed otherwise. It can look a touch keen), gets me to lie down on her treatment bed, then begins vigorously rubbing along the line of my clavicle bone, digging her fingers in deep, and making prodding circular motions; before moving onto my neck, which gets equally aggressively roughed up: rubbed and circled and pinched. This hurts. Then she starts on my ears – the lobe, the outer rim (navigating my piercings), the inner conch… Which I wasn’t expecting, not being funny: I’d have flannelled the interior more attentively in advance, had I known. This really hurts. Then she whacks on some medical gloves, and gives me a Joss-sque inner facial going-over, which is painful but past experience means I know where I’m at with it. (Apparently, we carry a shed load of tension in our jaws, tension which exhibits as pinchedness and lines, and this can only really be knocked out from within.)

The whole thing lasts a (bearable, but definitely ouchy,) 45 minutes, after which, I am released from Donia's couch, and rush off to check my face in the nearest mirror.

Oh, it’s a good ‘un! My jaw line and cheekbones pop, the skin texture on my neck looks particularly improved, the pouchy slump from beneath the inner corner of my eye sockets is also de-puffed.

Miraculously after all that pummelling, my face isn’t that red, either (which is fortunate, because I happen upon David and Harper Beckham en route to the tube. No one wants red-face for that). I rejoice, then get into a lil at-home lymph maintenance, massaging my face in accordance with what I can remember of Donia’s techniques, every morning. And that also really helps

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