Tools of the trade: how holistic facials are the ultimate in self-care

Tools of the trade: how holistic facials are the ultimate in self-care

Frederika Van Hagen, skin therapist and cosmetic acupuncturist, talks us through the techniques and tools she uses to revitalize her clients’ skin.

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With 42 individual muscles in the face, it’s surprising that using massage to boost circulation isn’t as immediately obvious as it is in its use to unwind tension in the body. With so many skincare products on the market touting transformative effects, it can be easy to overlook our basic physiology and how we can help to depuff, tone and create glowing skin simply by using our hands and acupressure tools.

We spoke to skin saviour Frederika Van Hagen, founder of Saintly Skin, whose background lies in natural skincare and holistic beauty. Frederika uses a combination of treatments including facial massage, facial and body acupuncture, gua sha, LED light therapy and electrical muscle stimulation alongside skincare created from natural formulations to deliver effective facials which lift and contour the face.

How does lymphatic drainage improve skin? Do we all need it?

Unlike the vascular system which is powered by the heart, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, so relies on muscle contraction through movement or exercise to get the lymph moving. Lymphatic drainage is a gentle massage technique which encourages the lymph to move within the lymphatic system reducing puffiness and encouraging toxins to be carried away which will benefit your skin’s health. Effective lymphatic drainage results in a tighter jaw, reduced puffiness, and firmer, glowing skin. 

Some of us, due to age or lifestyle choices can have more of a sluggish lymph than others, however all can benefit from this technique. The key is to massage very slowly and lightly along the jaw from your chin towards your lymph nodes located in front of the ears.  

Can lymphatic drainage push toxins to other areas of the body?

The lymphatic system is a network that helps rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials and move lymph back into the bloodstream. It acts as a one-way system so toxins which are picked up with the lymph are filtered out by nodes, ducts or organs where the body excretes these out in urine, sweat or tears. If your lymphatic system is sluggish, these toxins can build up and this is where you get puffiness and swelling. 

Which causes puffy skin in the first place?

When the lymphatic system is sluggish, toxins can build up and you see puffiness and swelling. Lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet, alcohol consumption, pollution, smoking, lack of good quality sleep… all these put a strain on the lymphatic system and can result in swelling caused by too much lymph fluid. Other signs of a sluggish lymphatic system can be fatigue, cold hands, weight gain and brain fog.

Other than facial massage, I have seen a huge improvement in reducing the effects of a sluggish lymph by using cosmetic acupuncture. I needle the Spleen meridian which helps boost transformation and movement, resolves dampness and reduces swelling. 

What should be avoided when trying out lymphatic drainage?

Avoid fast, hard movements as this will work on the muscle and help to sculpt and lift the face rather than activating the lymphatic vessels which will help to depuff and detoxify. Slow, gentle, light movements are key! 

Which techniques do you use during your facials?

I am a very hands-on therapist and use a number of massage techniques throughout my treatments. One of my favorite methods however is using a Gua Sha massage tool at the end of the facial, which not only grounds and relaxes the client but also helps to depuff and detoxify the facial tissue. After I’ve finished one side of the client's face I can really see the difference. Even now it amazes me to see how such slow gentle movements can make such a huge change. 

What skin concerns have your clients been coming to you with recently? 

I have been offering skin consultations during lockdown and have connected with so many people on the subject of their skin. On one level, many people are enjoying healthier skin due to reduced exposure to pollution and applying less makeup now they are working from home. On another level, I connected in the early stages of lockdown with a number of people experiencing alcohol-related inflammation. One of the most common themes I encounter are women experiencing hormonal breakouts along the jawline which is always exacerbated by stress. Every person’s skin reacts differently to treatments and products, so there is no “one size fits all” approach to skincare, which is why I believe it is so important to work with one specialist and explore what works for you. It takes time, so be patient and I promise you’ll get there. 

Why do you think having facial treatments matters to your clients? 

Skin health is so important but with so much information out there it can sometimes be confusing. For a lot of clients, it’s a relief to be able to discuss their skincare routine and skin issues with me, and for us to create a treatment plan together. And of course, it's an hour in their month for some ritualistic time to relax, unwind and practice self-care.

Why do you think it’s important to take a holistic approach to skincare?

The best things in life are free, but they’re often the hardest to achieve: a good night's sleep, time for yourself, exercise and a healthy diet. 

I think we are conditioned to believe that there is a magic cream out there that will answer all of our problems but this is just not the case. Yes, a good tailored skincare routine is going to help your skin function optimally but if you don’t look at the body as a whole then you won’t be able to gain the results you are looking for. Dehydration, lack of sleep, high levels of stress, vitamin deficiencies and environmental factors are all going to contribute. Our emotional and energetic state shows on our skin so first and foremost this is what we must all take care of. 

What’s your top tip to keeping your skin looking and feeling healthy?

Listen to your skin, be patient, work with it, know that your beauty comes from within and listen to the messages your body is sending you.