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I like the glowing, plump complexion I get after a facial, but who’s got all that time and money to spend on themselves? Now there’s a new service that’s an alternative to yesterday’s hour-plus appointment: the facial workout.

I heard all about it from friends who said it was not only faster than the traditional facial but also lifts and plumps in a similar way to dermatologist-administered Botox and fillers. Needle-free and faster–what’s not to love? Little did I know what I was really in for.

I rolled in to Skin Camp in the Beverly Grove neighborhood and was immediately set at ease by the happy pink decor and upbeat vibe. I sat down in a reclining chair in this Pinterest-perfect environment, amped to get the 30-minute Sculpt facial. My aesthetician Sonia spoke in a low, calm voice, explaining what we’d do today, something about rolling, massaging and an exfoliating mask and facial cupping.

“Wait, is that going to leave round bruises on my face like on Gwyneth Paltrow’s back?”

“No, it’s much gentler. You’ll see.”

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And see I did, as she massaged a cantaloupe-scented cleanser into my face, steamed my skin and then pressed cold towels onto my forehead and cheeks slowly and firmly. Next, she applied a light exfoliating mask, and I thought, How will she have time to also sculpt and massage in only 30 minutes?

Next, Sonia patted me with face oil—just enough to make my skin a bit slick. She took a jade gua sha tool—imagine a palm-sized flat stone spatula—and started tracing it up my jawline, upward from my lower cheekbone to my brow and as a sort of eraser to the dreaded “11” creases between my eyebrows.

This massage was meant to encourage circulation and reduce the fluid I was retaining in my face (thanks, salty movie theater popcorn). Between the herbal-scented products, slow jams playing softly in the background and my aesthetician’s cool, rhythmic hand movements, I never wanted my gua sha to end. But was it making me look better? Sonia did a fun experiment in which she massaged one half of my face first, then gave me a mirror to compare it to the untreated side. I looked way more “looked-after lady who lunches” on the treated side, and sort of “woke up, rolled out of bed and hit the dog park” on the other.

Next came the cupping, where little vacuum wands made of plastic (imagine teeny transparent toilet plungers) were slurped onto my face and then popped off, pulling in the same direction as the gua sha tool…that is, up and outward, to give the appearance of plumper skin and higher cheekbones. Again, a side-to-side comparison of treated and untreated sides showed that the cupping seemed to dissolve the bags under my eyes, which are a result of fluid buildup.

Finally, Sonia ended the session with a brief once-over stone roller (one of the products made by Skin Camp’s affiliated beauty product company, Skin Gym, which are for sale at the shop) and then a facial massage in which she gently pinched my skin and moved it up and over toward the outside of my face. The effect was as relaxing as a long, slow exhale.

Overall, I need not have worried that 30 minutes wouldn’t be enough time. Sonia’s fast strokes and swift deployment of tools ended up making the half hour feel much longer than the quickie sesh actually was.

Best of all, my skin looked super perky and rosy when I left (after Sonia applied a layer of protective sunscreen). She told me the lifting and smoothing effects would last for a couple days, but that long-term effects (like collagen stimulation) would be cumulative if I popped by on the regular. I was a bit skeptical, but the next night when I sat next to a friend who asked me why my skin looked like I was in my twenties (um, not even close, reader), I was hooked.

TL;DR: Fast, value-priced ($60 for a half hour) and relaxing, Skin Camp is the facial workout you don’t know you need, but you so do.

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