Needle-free filler? Our editor in chief tries EmFace to see if it’s worth the hype

4 July 2024
By Fashion Quarterly

Touted as a needle-free filler replacement designed to tone and tighten, could EmFace be the facial workout missing from your routine?

Sarah Murray, FQ editor in chief. Photography: Guy Coombes.

If you’re looking for a non-invasive treatment that will work to lift and firm your skin, then EmFace is for you. Touted as a needle-free filler replacement designed to tone and tighten, this treatment works to lift your face – most notably the brow, cheeks and corners of the mouth. In fact, founder of The Face Place, Dr Cat Stone has called the facial rejuvenation treatment “pilates for the face”. My interest sufficiently piqued, I went to The Face Place to try it for myself. 

So, how does it work? 

Using high-intensity facial electrical stimulation (known as HIFES), EmFace works to contract and strengthen the facial muscles. It’s this contraction that causes a lifting effect. To start, three applicator pads were applied to my skin – one on my forehead, and one on each side of my face. A fourth “grounding” pad was fixed to my back and plugged into the machine. If you’re wondering what the grounding pad is, I did too. Essentially it completes the radio frequency circuit. Wires stem from all the pads, attaching to the machine, which grounds the energy, and channels it to the pads on the face. 

The general idea is that the pads induce involuntary muscle contractions, particularly focusing on the “elevator muscles” on the face. 

Dr Cat explains that EmFace is effective because it works on the skin and connective tissue of the SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system). “It’s this layer of the face which contains the muscles of facial expression, surrounded by connective tissue, which essentially holds the rest of the tissues (deep and superficial fat pads, and skin) onto the face.” She continues, “As we age, the SMAS weakens, especially the muscles that lift the face, as they are working against gravity, while the depressor (pulling down) muscles and tissues are working with gravity, so the whole face moves down, causing dropping of the brow, deeper smile lines, jowling and loss of definition through the jawline. Horizontal forehead lines get deeper because as the forehead muscle weakens, it has to actively try harder to lift the brow, and this hyperactivity is what forms those lines.” 

How does it feel? 

I’ll be honest. It’s one of the strangest sensations I’ve ever experienced. I was nervous it was going to be painful, but for me it was completely painless. Tegan, my consultant, started by increasing the radio frequency. This gave my face a warming sensation. Then it was time for the HIFES. Starting off at 10 per cent, my face very gently started to twitch. At 100 per cent, my skin felt like it was lifting and pulling my forehead and cheeks. It came in waves and felt as if my whole face was twitching. Tegan told me how some people find their teeth feel sensitive, and although I felt a slight zing through them while we were getting to 100 per cent, they didn’t bother me during the appointment. In fact, at each session I was lulled to sleep for the 20-minute duration. Once done, the pads were removed. My skin was ever so slightly red, but I felt like I could go about my day and no one would be any the wiser that I’d had a lunchtime treatment. The best thing is that make-up can be applied immediately afterwards. If you have an evening event, you can get a treatment the same day. 

When do you see results? 

The recommendation is to do four treatments in total, which should be spaced seven to 10 days apart. This timeline is essentially advised as it is the ideal time to affect the muscles and promote the production of collagen and elastin. While some see immediate lifting after their first treatment, full results are said to be seen 12-weeks following your last treatment. For me, I definitely noticed some tightening after my fourth and final treatment. What I didn’t expect, and what seems like a happy side effect, is that my general complexion appeared plumped up, and even my pigmentation appeared to have softened. I can’t wait to see the results in 12 weeks’ time.

EmFace is available exclusively at The Face Place. Course of four treatments, $4995

This article originally appeared in Fashion Quarterly‘s ‘Ambition’ issue, autumn 2024.

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