The Zone Facelift: Better Than Botox?

“A facelift?” said my friend. “Are you serious?” I texted back that I was then mischievously left her hanging. It was obvious what she was thinking – scalpels, white coats, bandages – but the reality was far from it. I mean, a really long way from it.

Despite its name, the Zone Facelift is an all-natural, non-invasive form of facial massage. Developed by London ‘facial reflexologist to the stars’ Ziggie Bergman, the technique is based on the principals of reflexology and the idea that each area of the face corresponds to a part of the body. In lifting, tightening and sculpting facial muscles it also claims to address deep-rooted stresses and strains, so balancing the body in a holistic way.

The reviews I’d come across were promising – ‘better than Botox’ according to one national newspaper, while Ziggie promises ‘ten years off in 12 sessions.’ In the midst of a particularly draining period in my life, I was in dire need of that level of rejuvenation.

I didn’t even attempt to get an appointment with Ziggie, however. I didn’t need to. Reflexologist Kate Gowar works with Ziggie at leading London health centre Grace Belgravia and offered me the chance to try out the procedure for myself at her Brighton clinic.

A former dancer, Kate’s calm and poise immediately made me feel I was in safe hands. After a brief run-through of my medical history and current concerns I was invited up onto the heated treatment bed and swiftly cocooned in a blanket, pillows beneath my knees and neck. Palo Santo incense drifted on the air and sunlight streamed through the window. I already felt at least five times more relaxed than I had when I stomped in.

While previous facials have left me somewhat underwhelmed (is it that hard to cleanse someone’s face and apply a face mask?) it was obvious from the start that something more intensive goes on during a Zone Facelift. As Kate rolled, pinched and smoothed my face, I could feel the effects throughout my body. Ripples of pleasure brought my shoulders down from my ears. The anxious fluttering in my stomach stilled.

Although I only saw the tools she was using after the treatment, a gentle suction cup was used to stimulate blood flow and cool jade balls were rolled across my tightly-knitted brow. Most of the massage was manual, however; quick, repeated tapping across my jawline or gentle pressure beneath my cheekbones.

By the time we were finished I’d almost forgotten that it was vanity that brought me to Kate’s door. I felt wholly Zen. But obviously, I did still want to see what my face looked like. As I sipped lemon water and tried to get down off my cloud, Kate passed me a mirror. Okay, it wasn’t the miraculous return of my 24-year-old self (probably for the best) but the results were impressive. The hollows around my eyes seemed plumped up and my cheekbones more contoured. “You look like you’ve been on holiday,” commented my mum when I sent her a selfie.

While a course of 12 sessions is the ideal – the repetition apparently helps retrain fixed facial muscles – the effects were noticeable from one treatment alone. It definitely seemed more effective than a typical facial and it would be a great alternative for those toying with the idea of a little Botox. I can’t help thinking it could become just as addictive though.


Nione Meakin

Nione Meakin

Nione is a Brighton-based freelancer who loves a quirky story and an interviewee with an edge. Having written on such diverse subjects as travelling shop mannequins, fashion for female priests, and Glastonbury with guns, she’s keen to keep news interesting, and loves exploring unknown territories and trying out unusual new treatments.

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