If your Instagram feed has suddenly been flooded by videos of people getting their faces slapped, pounded, and massaged in the name of beauty, you have Inge Theron to thank for that. The former beauty writer founded FaceGym, the massage-focused facial bar beloved by celebs like Bella Hadid, Jasmine Tookes, and Lizzo, after discovering the transformative power of facial massage and muscle stimulation.
“I realized that if you don’t actually stimulate the muscles, there’s no topical ingredient that can [dramatically] help you when you’re in your late 30s or 40s, unless you do the work,” Theron tells Glamour. “So, to me, it’s all about treating the muscles in your face like you treat the muscles in your body.”
Theron believes that great skin is a combination—half “the great actives,” and half how you apply the products. “When I think about cleansing, I don’t think, Oh, I’m just going to purify or remove the dirt from my skin,” she explains. “It’s: Great—I’m going to use my knuckle. I’m going to increase circulation. I’m going to boost my collagen and also tone, tighten, and lift. And you know, my eyes are looking a bit dodgy so I’m going to depuff them and sculpt my cheekbones. That’s all done while I’m cleansing my face.”
Theron discovered facial massage when she was traveling the world as a spa writer in her mid-30s. She says she had access to “any facial under the sun,” but she was consistently disappointed by results that didn’t last. However, she also wasn’t ready for something more permanent like injectables, so she researched what else was out there. “I went to Mexico; I worked with some Inca healers,” she says. “I went to Japan. I basically traveled the world and realized that face massage and muscle manipulation was a thousand years old—the Empress of China was using pressure points for her beauty routine.”
And so, in 2016, FaceGym was born. “It was taking something that was already established, proven, but making it cool and sexy,” says Theron. “It was just lots of research and then working with some really talented people. I’ve got a great team of master trainers. We designed this concept, which is warm-up, cardio, sculpting, cooldown—exactly like you train your body in the gym.”
Obviously, her routine is heavy on the massage and treatment, but she also relies on an ever-evolving lineup of products for her combination skin. She also targets dryness, hyperpigmentation, and signs of aging but tries to keep a positive attitude about it. “I laugh a lot. I live a lot. When I was younger, before FaceGym, I used to get super worried about it. But now I realize that I worked so hard to get those lines around my eyes,” she says. “I didn’t dance on a table in Ibiza until 4:00 a.m. not to have those lines. Now I feel so comfortable with them, that they are who I am.
“You’ve got to own it,” she says. “At some point you’ve also just got to say, ‘You know what? I spent most of my youth worrying about, Is my bum too big in my jeans? Or do I look old? And then at some point you just go, This is the best version of me. I’ve done everything I can, and this is it. Take it or leave it. That’s the one good thing about getting older: You get more confident.”
Below, Theron shares what’s in her current rotation for Glamour’s Drop the Routine.
I am very much a seasonal skin-care person. I treat my skin the way I treat my body—I don’t eat pumpkins in the summer; I eat asparagus. Right now, given the fact that I was in the sun, I’m using the FaceGym Electrolyte Cleanser, because it’s got a really beautiful formulation. It has a light papaya extract for the hyperpigmentation. It’s got electrolytes, which isn’t in any other product that I found. It really is brilliant for energizing. I also get some bigger pores, especially during the summer months. So it’s got a red clover extract, which has been patented. The results on the pores closing is unbelievable. It’s so gentle, it doesn’t hurt the skin barrier. At the moment I’m using it morning and night just because I’ve got this extended bit of hyperpigmentation at the moment and it’s really, really helping. I tend to use September to treat hyperpigmentation and dark spots, both in my FaceGym studio and with my skin care.
I use October to February to restore, renew, replenish. That’s when I’ll do all my big laser treatments. So as I go into winter, I always use a balm cleanser. The Then I Met You is my everything. I wish I’d invented this product, because I live for it. For night, I’m using Augustinus Bader’s Balm, which is really good. It doesn’t have that fabulous zingy scent like the other one—it’s a bit bland actually—but I’ve just started using it. It has his actives in it as well, so that’s really good and soothing. That’s what I would potentially do for winter.
I wear virtually no makeup, but if I am, I use the Dr. Jart Micellar Water. I will use that to get that initial bit of makeup off. If I’m at the gym and just want a quick little spruce, I’ll use some of that.
FaceGym Electro-Lite Energizing + Brightening Face Cleanser
$38.00, Face Gym
Dr. Jart + Dermaclear Micro Water
$32.00, Dr. Jart+
Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm
$38.00, Soko Glam
Augustinus Bader The Cleansing Balm
I’m very, very loyal to SK-II, and I have been for years. After cleansing, using an essence is the best thing you can do. Layering for me is key. I’m a big maximalist, and I really love the idea of layering. This gives me that long-distance hydration. I’ll often also just use the Omorovicza; it’s a mist, which is another firm favorite of mine, as well.
Now, when I’m working on my pigmentation, I use the Biologique P50 as well, but you just have to be really careful. I will tend to sort of dial this up as the sun goes away. I’m still very scared to use this in September, because I’ve actually got myself into a lot of trouble. I think some of the problems with hyperpigmentation is the incorrect use of acids. Using them in the wrong time of day, using them in the wrong time, and using something that’s strong when there is still nice weather outside is a big mistake, even at night, because then you forget to put on your sunblock and then you just perpetuate the problem. Starting in October, I’ll use that like once a week.
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50
$70.00, Rescue Spa
Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist
I’m obsessed with serums. Again, it’s all about that layering. I made these two serums because I tried everything. The Hydro-Bound serum, we call it a serum, but I call it a hydrator. It’s a full-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid, and it’s got niacinimide. It just absorbs in instantly. It also has algae, and it’s our number one best-selling product.
Because I’m a little bit older and my skin is dry, I use the Youth Reformer, which is a Vitamin C. Its an enzymatically activated oil serum, so it isn’t like a normal oil. It actually goes on and sinks in immediately. I’ve added a palo santo nootropic in this as well, because over the last couple of years we’ve seen such an increase of stressed skin. I see skin from all around the world, and especially during COVID, we’ve seen such a tremendous amount of cortisol expression, dullness, fine lines, wrinkles, breakouts—all stress related. It’s brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, and if you love vitamin C like we all do, this is everything. I use this day and night, and I layer it, and it really changed my skin. It also reduces redness, which I get a lot of. I’ve got very fine capillaries, and this has reduced my redness.
FaceGym Youth Reformer Firming Vitamin C + Nootropic Oil-in-Serum
FaceGym Hydro-Bound Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid + Niacinamide Serum
$68.00, Face Gym
When you get a bit older, it’s all about collagen, and this is a vegan collagen innovation that I’ve found: Epidermal Growth Factor. I’ve always wanted to work with growth factors, and to find a vegan growth factor that stimulates collagen was brilliant. I believe in treating the skin metabolism. I’m always amazed when I actually speak to some of our customers—they don’t even know that your skin has a metabolism. And what skin metabolism means is, it’s just a catch-all phrase for the speed of skin-cell turnover, speed of collagen production, speed of elastin.
The reason why I’m so passionate about this is that it comes in a zero-waste pot. It’s a forever aluminum, and the refill is made out of 50 bags of sea plastic. I haven’t found any other person that can give me such great moisturizer guilt-free, with zero waste, et cetera.
FaceGym Supreme Restructure Firming EGF Collagen Boosting Moisturizer
My eye creams
I’m obsessed with the Omorovicza Reviving Eye Cream. The water break is fantastic, and it actually gives you a little bit of tightening. It’s got vitamin C; it’s really good. I also use a brand called Dr. Levy, and the gel eye cream is phenomenal. He’s a Swiss doctor, and it’s fantastic.
I like to use gel textures around my eyes. When I was using the thicker creams around the eyes, I got so much milia.
Omorovicza Reviving Eye Cream
$149.00, Saks Fith Avenue
Dr. Levy Switzerland Eye Booster Concentrate
$190.00, Niche Beauty
I sort of went off facial masks from a sustainability perspective, but when I really do need something, I love the Dr. Gross Vitamin C treatment mask. I love his products. It really, really works. I also like the 111Skin, but when possible, I make my own with natural ingredients, as I’m trying to move away from sheet masks from a sustainability perspective.
Dr. Dennis Gross CCollagen Biocellulose Brightening Treatment Mask
$14.00, Dr. Dennis Gross
111Skin Y Theorem Bio Cellulose Facial Masks (5-Pack)
I like Allies of Skin, and this is one of my favorite products from them. It’s a retinol and peptide overnight mask, and you wake up feeling incredibly juicy and glowy. It has nine antioxidants, five brighteners, and it’s got retinol as well. It’s a really, really good product if you need to look great the next morning—I tend to use it more on special occasions.
Allies of Skin Retinal & Peptides Repair Night Cream
$109.00, Allies of Skin
This is brand new, and I’m obsessed. It’s because I have such a rich heritage in oils. When I first started FaceGym six years ago, I couldn’t afford to make my own skin care. So I set up my own laboratory in my shops and made my own oil bar; every season I would bring in everything from kolari melon oil to apricot to tomato seed, lemon seeds, pepper seed, and I had mixologists making our own face oil. I know everything about oil, but the problem was that the oil we were having was always so oily. It took a long time to rub in.
It took me years to find the right formulation. It’s called Face Coach, and it has Q10 and a brand-new active called mastic tree active to prevent something called face slide. As you get older, your fibers start thinning and loosening, and your skin starts just literally sliding and falling. This helps to boost and plump, and it triggers all of that elastin and collagen. It’s got lovely botanicals and actives. It’s our number-one-selling face oil.
FaceGym Face Coach Lifting Q10 + Mastic Tree Enzymatically Activated Face Oil
I’m obsessed, always have been, with Heliocare Factor 50. It’s excellent. It’s what all the dermatologists use in the U.K. and in Europe. This one’s got a little bit of color, so when you do get a little bit of redness, you can use this as your makeup when you’re on a holiday as well. It comes in a variety of different formats. They’ve got a divine spray bottle as well—not so great for the environment, but good when you don’t want to miss a spot.
Heliocare Extreme Sun Screen Cream SPF 50+
I use my Face Ball religiously, because I drink three coffees in the morning and a half a bottle of wine at night. And I love sushi and I love salt, so it’s just toxin layered on toxin on toxin on toxin. Of course, I also drink liters and liters of celery juice, so don’t judge me. I use it for my lymphatic drainage. I have suffered for a lifetime with acne, and since I started face balling, it has helped me so much to detox. I don’t get breakouts anymore. And again, that really helps to reduce the puffiness. I run it across my chest in the morning to open up the lymphatic system, and then according to what I need, I’’ll run around it the face. I can also really works around the eye area to depuff; if I want a bit of a quick lift as well, I can just sort of really sculpt.
My tool of the moment right now is our Hyaluronic Roller. I see everybody with their jade rollers, and I’m like, “That’s so 10 years ago. Can we all just move on?” What I love about this roller is it’s got thousands and thousands of micro crystals that are crystallized hyaluronic acid and peptides. So what’s happening is I dry-roll and that actually makes these micro injuries. You do get a little bit warm—it’s stimulating collagen, but hardcore. It’s also creating these micro channels that allow the peptides and the hyaluronic acid to penetrate deeper.
FaceGym Face Ball Tension Release Tool
FaceGym Hyaluronic Acid Roller Dissolving Microneedling Tool
That’s a brand-new treatment. It does all that kind of wonderful FaceGym “warm-up, cardio, sculpting, cooldown,” but then we actually use the roller. Then we put on this new EMS Medi Lift mask. It’s got three settings. You can do cheek sculpt, jaw sculpt, or full-face hits. And then whilst that is electric muscle stimulator. It’s like doing sit-ups in your stomach, and it’s doing that to your face. You can feel your muscles actually twitching, but while that’s happening, they give you a wonderful back, neck, and shoulder massage, which is just divine. And then to finish off, they put the cryo-oxygen blaster on. That’s for hydration and lifting. And then I do the radio frequency for skin tightening.
Bella Cacciatore is the beauty writer at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.
Originally Appeared on Glamour