The only problem with contouring is that it doesn’t last very long.
All that time spent carving out your cheekbones, creating shadows, slimming your nose goes down the drain, literally. Alas, market research revealed that in 2015 contouring had become a 29 million dollar industry and you can bet those numbers have only gone up since.
For those searching for something that lasts, we recently road tested a miraculous treatment with the potential to keep you face sculpted for days (weeks, even!). What we weren’t expecting were all the extras – noticeably whiter whites of the eyes, firmer skin and that holy-moly glow.
It’s called lymphatic drainage – a massaging technique that helps with the removal of harmful cellular waste products from our lymph system (a network of tissues and vessels) and assists with lymphatic flow by reducing water retention, improving immune function and eliminating toxins.
For this, I went to Zen Facial, the solo operation of Fumi Yamamoto. Her long-term clients include models Jess Gomes, Jesinta Franklin, Shanina Shaik and Margaret Zhang – who all go to her, sometimes directly from the airport after a long-haul flight, to get their faces de-puffed. Other times, they’ll schedule in the day before a photoshoot or red carpet event. “I am grateful when a make up artist sends in their clients [for a treatment]. After, the skin is glowing and chiselled, and then you can enhance it with cosmetics,” Yamamoto beams.
Arriving at her homely space overlooking Bronte beach, I’m greeted with a very big smile. Yamamoto is vivacious with an endlessly warm energy. She explains she’s going to do some “cranial work” on me, in addition to the lymphatic drainage. My face is ready.
She starts by stablising my core with a heavy blanket and places a portable infrared light over my abdominal section to keep me warm during the 75-minute treatment (infrared also helps with detoxification), before heading down and massaging my feet. Weird. I thought I was getting a facial.
Yamamoto explains, “Doing a foot massage can change a person’s face, especially if they have digestive issues or bloating.” She views the body holistically so what happens in one part can be symptomatic and reveal itself on the face. She always starts at the base because how we stand affects how tall we feel and look, which in turn affects our contours and face shape.
“When I do lymphatic drainage, it’s actually not just working on the face but on the whole body to detoxify and de-puff,” she continues. I notice her applying pressure to specific points on my foot – rubbing and kneading my soles as if she were pushing out air bubbles on a newly applied screen protector.
As she works her way up to my face, most of the drainage is done around the hair line, along my jaw and down the hollows of my cheek. I ask what products she’s using, but for Yamamoto, it’s less about specific brand names (though I spy a lot of Equal Beauty and SK-II), and more about technique. Physical pressure applied in a purposeful way, which creates disconcerting by entirely painless cracking nosies, as the lymphatic drainage takes effect and Yamamoto works her magic.
In the days following, the whites of my eyes are definitely whiter. My boyfriend think so too, but I have to ask. “Your face is smaller and your eyes look bigger,” he says on closer inspection. My cheekbones feel like I’ve been smiling for days – tight and taut. All my features feel lifted, and as a bonus, so does my spirit. Perhaps it’s a placebo glow, but I’ll take it.
Prominent Sydney-based makeup artist, Sarah Tammer is another long-time Zen Facial client. “I think I had my first treatment with Fumi 16 years ago, dare I say…” and frequently recommends her celebrity clients. “I notice results after every treatment… brows lifted, cheekbones more defined, pores are diminished, skin texture much smoother, less puffiness under the eyes, eye more open and sparkly, less lines, neck elongated, calmer energy yet radiant…”.
I ask Yamamoto how she’d like to be credited in this story. She’s not quite a facialist and has studied extensively for over a decade in everything from Yoga, Zen Shiatsu, Meridian therapy to Aromatherapy Cranio Sacral therapy, Lymphatic drainage and Reflexology. “Some of my clients call me their wellness consultant, others call me their sculptor,” she laughs. It’s hard to pigeon-hole such a unique practice. “People even ask my clients who their surgeon is, so maybe I’m a holistic, natural surgeon.”
Gritty Pretty trialled the signature Zen Facial for this story. A new Super Sculptural booster treatment is now available.
For more information, visit zenfacial.com.