THE TIMES MAGAZINE
Beata Aleksandrowicz: the massage therapist who can remove years from your face
by LESLIE THOMAS
I am lying on a massage therapist's bed early on a Friday morning trying to fake serenity. I am furious about a tense discussion with my boyfriend the night before. Running through my head are mean words I wasn't quite cruel enough to say out loud, Then, inevitably, I am annoyed that the argument in my mind is intruding on this precious moment away from my responsibilities.
My rage is serenaded by the Himalayan singing bowls that started the treatment. This is not exactly soothing. This is supposed to be a rejuvenating facial, and compounded ire and a furrowed brow are not usually part of the recipe for youthful skin.
Yet somehow, after 90 minutes, the opposite is true. I swear I look like I've had a brow lift. I've not seen this much of my eyelids for years. My cheeks look lifted -like those of someone happy.
This is my fourth treatment with the massage therapist Beata Aleksandrowicz in almost as many weeks. People have been asking what "tweakments" I've had done - the highest of compliments. My sister wonders whether I've finally had the thread lift I try to approximate by pinching my jawline every time I see her,
My anger, Aleksandrowicz explains, is all part of the treatment. Her Face Cure is the culmination of her years of experience as a facial and massage therapist. She is one of the world's most in-demand practitioners, designing treatments and training therapists at the world's most luxurious spas, her magic hands known for getting dramatic results without needles. Using a combination of eastern and western techniques, she can reverse heavy-handed Botox and has given sufferers of Bell's palsy their faces back.
At the start of my appointment the rancour was visible, she said. But after five minutes I could feel myself softening. And as her hands worked on the muscles around my nose and mouth, I wanted to cry - not with sadness, but with relief. In other sessions she has massaged my neck and chest, and the inside of my cheeks (wearing latex gloves), as well as the more obvious areas of concern: jowls and frown zone.
I am aware that many readers may dismiss this as "woo woo". Singing bowls and happy thoughts are all very well, but can they do anything about a saggy jawline? Well, it seems that they can. I have not had fillers or Botox, but that does not mean I am not vain and impatient. I liked what I saw in the mirror after only one treatment: tightening and softening in the right places.
What Aleksandrowicz offers is what she calls "a reconnection with your own
face. It's not about fixing anything, but to give your face time to rest, rejuvenate and restore." I think this is an undersell. While it would be impossible to leave her Notting Hill studio without feeling a deep sense of calm and balance, you will also look lifted. The treatment includes myofascial release (a massage for relaxing contracted muscles), lymphatic drainage (light, brush-like strokes around the cheeks and jaw to release fluids) and face reflexology, which can prompt noticeable structural changes. As she says: "I've seen stagnant or puffy faces look slimmer; a compressed forehead will suddenly open up."
Depending on the client, Aleksandrowicz might bolster her treatments with a back massage, life coaching or dietary and sleep advice. My add-ons included "homework" exercises. As well as stopping myself looking in the mirror and saying, "God, I look terrible" - such a destructive mantra - I had to spend a few minutes a day lying with a rolled-up towel between my shoulder blades, breathing deeply. It was a pleasant exercise and a relief from being a keyboard hunchback all day. The hippy way of looking at this is that my heart was thrust forwards, offloading stress and distress - and this in turn had an impact on my lightness of being. Even the most surface of people know this can knock years off.
Face Cure costs £185 for an hour, £260 for 90 minutes, beata.website