If your Instagram feed has suddenly been flooded by videos of people getting their faces getting 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 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 de-puff 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 warmup-cardio-sculpting-cool down, 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 then 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 AM 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 skincare person. I treat my skin like 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, which is really good 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 skincare.