More woo from the NYT? A $285 “non-invasive facelift” (i.e., a massage)

February 27, 2020 • 8:30 am

The New York Times continues to tout various species of woo (remember their astrology penchant we discussed here and here?) Now they’re (implicitly) promoting a form of facial massage which is supposed to be a non-invasive “face lift”. While there’s one reservation buried at the end of the article, in general the tenor of the piece is pro-woo-face-lift (they used the same buried caveats with astrology). The thing is, based on how the massage is done, I do not believe its effects can be anything more than temporary. And indeed, that’s what you see at the end.

As you see, it costs $285 for a bit more than an hour, and that’s exclusive of tip, which would be about another $50.

Here’s how they describe the “instant face lift” (author Caity Weaver had one):

It is alarming to understand oneself as a heavy, precarious pile of discrete muscles adhering to bones and skin, performing rote motions with little to no supervision — rather than as a person with ideas.

But what if, in exchange for subjecting yourself to that existential reckoning, for 285 American dollars plus tip, you could have zhuzhed cheeks and a temporary glow? Would you dare?

For an increasing number of Brooklyn residents for whom any price is a small price to pay for any good or service, the answer is a radiant yes.

Damn capitalists! It goes on:

. . .The result is what the aesthetician Carrie Lindsey describes as a “nonsurgical face-lift.” In her small, bright Fort Greene salon, Ms. Lindsey methodically rearranges the clay of her clients’ features until they resemble their own almost imperceptibly more attractive evil twins. She achieves this effect by smushing and smooshing and spreading and stretching their faces, for upward of an hour, and then (having donned gloves) rooting around inside their mouths for several minutes.

If you go to the site linked in the article, Sculptural Face Lifting, there’s not the slightest indication that this procedure might, at best, make you look good for about an hour or so. Indeed, it implies that there are permanent or semi-permanent effects on various aspects of your physiology:

Sculptural Face Lifting propels the internal resources of the body for the natural rejuvenation and recovery. It improves blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, increases the microcirculation in the subcutaneous adipose tissue,  normalizes cellular respiration, activates metabolism and tissue nourishment. The secret of the success of the technique lies in the deep study of the basic facial and masticatory muscles of the face simultaneously – from the outside through the skin and through the oral cavity from the inside.

And that SFL site implicitly promises more than a day’s improvement:

Sculptural Face Lifting triggers metabolic processes not only in the skin and tissues of the face, but in the whole body. Excessive fluids are drained. Harmful foreign substances and toxins begin to be excreted more quickly and efficiently from the body – that’s why it’s very important that you drink plenty of fresh clean water to help your body clean itself. As a result, new tissues regenerate, and the appearance and elasticity of the skin improves. Your immune system becomes stronger, too! Your beauty is inseparable from your health – we want you to have both!

New tissues regenerate, and your circulatory and lymphatic systems change. Toxins are excreted! (That’s a sure sign that you’re dealing with woo.)

Author Weaver recounts her experience:

. . . Before and after photos revealed that my skin no longer sagged in places I hadn’t known it sagged, until I saw photos in which it no longer did. It was as if my regular skin had received the unhelpful note “do better” and acted on it, but not in any specific way I could identify. I was my own mirage.

. . . After an initial assessment, during which Ms. Lindsey scrutinizes what she calls “the knit” of her supine client’s skin, she begins the treatment by pressing gently around the clavicle, underarms and jawline — locations of lymph nodes. She works her way more forcefully up the neck to the face, where the pressure becomes muscle deep. The movements, she said, are intended to encourage activity in the lymphatic and circulatory systems, to “feed” the skin.

“I’m not feeding it just topically with, like, a mask or a serum,” she said. “Your body’s feeding your new skin cells. And I think that that’s great.”

If you get new skin cells, wouldn’t that suggest a more-than-temporary improvement? But of course if that was the case, people would be doing this instead of having more conventional face lifts.  The article continues:

. . .at $285 for a 75-minute session, the sculpting massage service is, per minute, the salon’s most expensive treatment.

“I struggle with this,” said Ms. Lindsey. The price, she said, is intended to reflect “the energy of the massage and the time and the results.” Initially, it was $305.

This part is hilarious (my emphasis):

Ms. Lindsey said she lowered it to make the service “accessible” to more people, then added, “I’m trying to stay competitive but, also, I don’t want to price gouge. I’m not using a ton of products and I want it to be fair.” She said: “It’s a lot of money still.”

. . . Ms. Lindsey said that the biggest “drawback” to the treatment is that “it is done best in a series.” She estimated that clients augmenting their sessions with “at home care,” may be able to maintain their results for “a good week or two.” My results, without home care, seemed to fade after a day or so.

They lowered the price by $20 to $285 to make it “more accessible”! Only in New York City! But don’t forget that $50 tip, which raises the price to $335 all told (and that’s less than a 20% tip).

There you have it ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters (and those with other pronouns): it lasted the author exactly one day, which only makes sense given what they do to you. The temporary effects of this “non-invasive face lift”, which are not mentioned on the procedure’s website, are said by the massager to last “a good week or two”, but even that’s not credible; and the author’s own results lasted at most one full day. That’s not what should happen if your lymphatic and circulatory systems get re-jiggered and new skin cells grow.

I suppose the way to look at this, if you’re a woman, is like paying a lot of money to get a fancy haircut and hairdo before a big event, or if you’re a man, just to get a one-off face “improvement” before such an event. (I can’t imagine doing this in any other circumstances).

What irks me is that the paper didn’t consult any experts in massage or facelifts or any other medical experts before writing a long article on this woo! They would have instantly sussed out that this is a pretty much a sham procedure whose promises exceed its results

17 thoughts on “More woo from the NYT? A $285 “non-invasive facelift” (i.e., a massage)

  1. Too bad the ‘lifting out’ of the old (ugly?) face does not include the ‘lowering in’ of a brand new (working properly this time?) brain.

  2. Oh, this is STILL all so allopathic!

    A Truly Evolved Higher Being would do it right: a non-invasive Reiki or maybe Therapeutic [non]-Touch massage where the “practitioner” doesn’t even have to touch the victim (uh…I mean “patient”).

    I’m sure that that could be arranged for no more than $750 or so. Even in New York.

  3. Brilliant – massage is a face lift. Well played.

    My recent lived experience on YouTube turned up an ad for brain-derived neurotrophic factor in a bottle. Not exactly the same, but apparently you can put BDNF in a bottle to drink and scam people with it, while citing scientific and medical literature, even though it has nothing to do with the fantasy of the advertisement.

  4. So there’s a A $285 non-invasive “face-lift” (known medically as a “rhytidectomy”)?

    Do they also offer a similarly priced homologous procedure for a labiaplasty?

    Asking for a lady friend, obvs.

  5. Any measurable effect is only because the vigorous kneading led to swelling, which pressed out a few wrinkles and sags.
    So the paragraph that was inspired from a junior level anatomy textbook that refers to “lymphatic drainage” and “subcutaneous tissue” left that little detail out.

  6. What are the chances that someone on the NYT editorial board is related to or friends with the “noninvasive face lift” practitioner?

  7. I think any massage will increase circulation and brighten up your skin for a bit, which is probably what people are noticing.

  8. That’s absolutely outrageous. You pay the woman $285 and then you have to pay her again another $50. If she is really demanding a tip of $50, why not, instead, charge $335?

    Oh yeah, the woo is bad too.

  9. It would be nice to do blind before/after comparisons by disinterested third parties of the reporter’s photos to see if there really is any difference, though only if they’re scrupulously taken with the same lighting and the same facial expression (more or less).

    As for the other stuff: We’re ALWAYS getting new skin cells. Do they have ANY data on lymphatic and circulatory changes? Could they be held liable if someone’s local skin carcinoma metastasizes, since they claim that they’ve improved the circulation?

    I’m sure a nice facial massage feels good and is relaxing if done well–Ceiling Cat knows that my face hurts OTHER people in addition to me, so a massage couldn’t make it worse. But to call it a non-surgical face lift sounds like they’re making medical claims…

  10. Oh thank you (or do you say “Merci” now?) for showing up my hometown newspaper’s horrible drift woo-wards with that stupid facial article. I was horrified when I read it. What’s got into them there?

    Keep up the Paris posts – I was so inspired I ordered French food for dinner (at a price,but worth it). 🙂 D.A., J.D., NYC

  11. If I were interested I would wait for a few years, in case it is the usual blind manipulation that sometimes makes serious damage…

    Meanwhile, what’s wrong with cat kneading!? That will rearrange your whole emotional package – and no tip.

Leave a Reply