SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — You won't need a scalpel for this face-lift.
Skin Gym Face Fitness, a new Downtown pop-up boutique, is offering a face workout that is meant to keep skin looking young, firm and healthy without using products or surgery.
The gym takes clients through a routine of facial movements — like reps of puckering lips or lifting eyebrows — and also offers facial massages.
“We’ve got 57 muscles in our face,” said Kate Gyllenhaal, 53, one of the company’s three founders and a longtime personal trainer. “Working them out, training them, is just as important as the rest of the body. We like to say, ‘Why stop at the neck?’”
Face massage and “workouts” are something French and Asian woman have long used in their battle against aging, said co-owner Rachel Lang, 44. But it hasn’t really caught on in the States — at least not yet.
“The massage and movement increases circulation to the skin and helps plump and rejuvenate skin,” said Lang, an esthetician. “It’s strengthening and protecting your skin and giving you a better complexion.”
Skin Gym, which is based at 190 Front St., launched in December and will stay open at least through February.
The cozy storefront has three lounge chairs for the facial massage, plus a “Facefit Wall” where clients sit, staring at themselves in a mirror, while Gyllenhaal leads them through a 15-minute face workout.
“Kissing not only feels good, it’s actually good for your facial muscles,” she said, while puckering up then smooching two wooden tongue depressors, staring at her face in the mirror along the wall.
“This works the muscles around your mouth.”
Gyllenhaal also uses stretchy orange bands, tied or held around her face, to create added resistance, while doing moves like opening and closing her mouth, or raising and holding her eyebrows.
“I know this looks ridiculous,” said Gyllenhaal, also a longtime Downtown resident and mom. “But it works and it’s fun — it’s OK to laugh your way through this.”
The 15-minute routine costs $15 and it's something that customers can learn, then go home and practice on their own, Gyllenhaal said.
The more relaxing part of the Skin Gym is the facial massage, which includes hot stones and cool jade rollers smoothed over the face.
A 30-minute massage costs $50, while the 15-minute version is $30.
The massage can be performed with makeup on, and a complimentary touch-up of the cosmetics is offered with the massage.
Lang said she developed her facial massage techniques over the past several years after having numerous clients whose skin was too sensitive for regular facials.
“Touch and massage, without using products, is really wonderful for the face,” said Lang, a longtime Downtown resident. “You see the benefits right away, with glowy skin, but over time there’s also long-term benefits, like the decrease of fine lines.”
Lang and Gyllenhaal, along with a third partner, Heidi Frederick, a massage therapist, started their business of facial massage and exercise a year ago with private events and home appointments.
The women, who refer to themselves as “mompreneurs," met by visiting the same Downtown playgrounds and block parties.
On a recent Friday afternoon, Umit Celebi, 54, a Financial District resident, was relaxing into the 30-minute facial massage on his third visit to the pop-up.
“You know, I’d never really had anyone massage my face and it just feels unbelievable,” he said. “My skin feels like a baby’s butt — it’s so rejuvenating and it puts me in a better mood."
Skin Gym Face Fitness, at 190 Front Street., is open Wednesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Extended hours are available upon request.