Tried and tested: Could face sculpting massage be the answer to a non-surgical facelift?

28 February 2024
By Fashion Quarterly

FQ’s editor-in-chief Sarah Murray trials a non-surgical facelift technique and thinks it might have changed her life.

Facial Sculpting Massage
Image: Unsplash.

“This is where it all starts,” says Olga Newman, lightly tapping my feet. It’s my third session with the founder of Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland facial sculpting clinic Face Up, and although we’re supposed to be working on my visage, she’s at the other end of my body, having made her way down while pressing on targeted lymphatic-drainage points. “Your face starts at your feet,” she explains. 

Later, she proves her point by showing me a diagram depicting the human body’s fascia connective tissues, which surround and attach muscles, organs and everything else, from the back of the heel, up the back of your legs, up your back and neck, and over the top of your forehead. 

Who is facial sculpting massage for?

I’d heard a lot about Newman. Influencers have been praising her results and unique sculptural massage technique on social media, but it’s not just them who’re going to see her — high-flying businesswomen (and men) and busy mums do too. Often when they leave, they tell her how life-changing the experience has been, how their face was in heaven and that they’ll be back. Obviously, I needed to see what all the fuss was about. 

If anyone’s a walking billboard for their business, it’s Newman. She appears significantly younger than her age, which could be due to good genes, but she’s also her own guinea pig and massages her own face for five to 15 minutes a couple of times a week. Coupled with her professionalism and deep understanding of the muscles of the face and body, her results assure me I’ve come to the right place.

Originally from Russia, Newman became interested in facial massaging techniques while living in Europe. On moving to New Zealand eight years ago, she tried but couldn’t find a similar approach here, so she decided to take matters into her own hands with self-massage techniques. “After only a few months, I noticed dramatic changes in my face, and that was the point when I felt inspired to build a career in facial sculpting,” she says. “As a little girl, I’d dreamed of being a surgeon, and now I’d found a way to lift and sculpt faces without a scalpel.”

What: Face Sculpting Massage by Olga Where: Face Up

Newman underwent extensive training in face-sculpting massage, buccal massage (like an inside-out massage, in which the facialist inserts their hands in your mouth), facial cosmetic acupuncture, osteoplasty and even psychosomatic/mind-massage. Using what she’d learned, she developed her own method, Face Up. If you’re thinking this is anything like most of the other facials out there, you’re mistaken. There’s no extensive cleansing ritual or gentle hand massage while a mask sets. After a no-nonsense cleanse, Newman gets straight to it. She describes Face Up as a comprehensive and personalised approach that integrates work on the face, body and posture, a customised practice that sets her apart. During one of my facials, she works on my neck and shoulders as she can sense that my shallow (read: stress-induced) breathing is shortening my muscles, causing me to lean forward. During another, she gives me my first-ever buccal massage, working the inside of my cheeks to relieve the tension in my jaw. On another occasion, she works on the back of my neck and the base of my skull.

A holistic approach to anti-ageing

Newman believes the neck is the main highway to the face. “I focus on clearing the pathways to drain stagnant lymph in the facial tissues (to free up the circulation) working on the muscles of the neck and décolletage, as well as performing deep osteopathic work on the occipital bone at the base of the skull,” she says. “These areas tend to accumulate the most stress and show age-related changes, which directly impact the health, beauty and natural radiance of our faces.”

What I realise very quickly is that although this technique works to counteract the effects of ageing, it’s about much more than that. At times, the facial massage is extremely firm. For me, it never hits an uncomfortable level, but the closest thing I can liken it to is a deep-tissue body massage. Despite this, I feel incredibly relaxed. Many of Newman’s clients come to her as an alternative to more invasive treatments like botox and fillers. Facial scuplting releases tension and promotes better blood circulation, and unlike botox and fillers, which are more of a quick fix, it also addresses the underlying causes.

Newman’s respectful of everyone’s personal choices, yet I can tell she feels proud when women who were once regular botox users decide to say goodbye to the needle and opt for facial sculpting instead. 

I understand why they would. Somehow after my sessions with her, it looks as if she’s made my forehead lines evaporate. It’s like magic — but there’s more to it than that. “When a person experiences lines on their forehead that bother them, the root cause cannot be solely attributed to the forehead itself,” says Newman. “Instead, the issues may originate from other parts of the body, such as the neck or muscles and fascia tissues located further down the back of the body. Our body is highly interconnected by this chain of tissues that are very influential on our posture, the condition of our muscles and our internal organs.

“I’ve never been solely interested in working on the surface layers of the skin, as is traditionally done with skincare products and cosmetics,” she continues. “I find it much more fascinating to discover and address the root causes — often stemming from stress, life events and ingrained habits — and thereby give lasting results. I’m able to offer a more holistic and customised approach to promoting beauty and wellbeing for my clients.”

What to expect after a series of facial sculpting appointments

It does feel like a holistic experience. I leave each appointment feeling lighter and somehow taller, as if she’s stretched not just my skin but my entire body upwards. When I look in the mirror, I can see the results — my forehead lines are lessened, my cheeks and jawline are sculpted, my entire face is glowing, replenished and relaxed.

Newman tells me her clients will often release their stress and tension through tears during sessions as they “let go of unnecessary burdens and make room for inner rejuvenation”. I don’t cry, but I do feel strangely emotional. Outwardly, I can see the changes these treatments are making, and inwardly, I can feel them. I vow to start practising Newman’s home-care routines every night, and to keep coming back.

Words: Sarah Murray
Images: Supplied, Unsplash

This article originally appeared in Fashion Quarterly’s Spring 2023 issue. 


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