Facial acupuncture – would you?
It has a big celeb following but can a face full of needles really perk up the Muddy visage? We visit Thame Therapy Clinic to try it out.
I’m a long-standing fan of this alternative therapy clinic in Thame, a buzzy little market town on the Oxfordshire/Bucks borders that’s a handy five minute whizz from Muddy HQ. I reviewed the cupping treatment here last year but this time round I despatched Sarah to try out facial acupuncture. Turns out getting stabbed in the face with a load of needles is a lot more fun than it sounds…
Thame Therapy Clinic is right in the centre of the town just off the main market square, with up to three hours free parking right outside. There’s all sorts on offer here from hands-on treatments such as physiotherapy, osteopathy and massage to talking therapies such as counselling, psychotherapy and speech and language therapy. It’s open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 6pm, except on Wednesdays when it closes at a working woman-friendly 9pm.
Beyond the big blue front door and the town centre bustle, there’s a network of basic treatment rooms. Nothing particularly posh or interior-designed but my view is ‘who cares’ if the treatments are amazing. My treatment took place in one at the back overlooking a peaceful, verdant little garden. Clinic owner Andy Roscoe was my designated needle-prodder on the day. He’s been practising acupuncture for 25 years and has run the clinic in Thame for 24 of those. This was reassuring – if you’re going to let someone stick needles in your mug, you want them to know what they’re doing.
I opted for the Facial Rejuvenation treatment which is also known as cosmetic acupuncture. It’s gained popularity in recent years among A-list actresses and women who want to their skin to look brighter, plumper and smoother but don’t want to go down the invasive route of Botox or similar. Basically, it’s a halfway house between a softly-softly standard facial and more hardcore intervention – so needles, yes, but not ones filled with worrisome chemicals. I went for the 60 minute treatment, although Andy does offer a 90 minute option with some zero balancing thrown in. Yep, me neither – turns out it involves pressure being placed on certain joints to rebalance your energy. I was curious but apparently you have to clear your diary for the rest of the day because it’s so intense all you can do afterwards is float home in a state of nirvana. Which sounds lovely but is possibly not an appropriate vibe for the school run or back in the office.
Obviously I went along because quite frankly I want my face to look better! But Andy has an holistic approach and emphasized how feeling happier and more relaxed on the inside really does show on the face. It’s an obvious point but sometimes in the whirlwind of every day like, we forget this. We carry a lot of stress and tension in the face, so a treatment that relaxes it should have a positive knock-on effect on the whole body, promoting a broader sense of wellbeing.
The treatment began with Andy taking my pulses, standard practice for acupuncturists, before, during and after the treatment. This is when you realise there’s no hiding place regarding any, ahem, less than healthy lifestyle choices. He spotted my liver was a bit in need of a boost – funnily enough I’d been celebrating a friend’s birthday the night before.
He popped some needles in points in my feet and hands to help detox the liver and rebalance my energy, then moved on to my face where he swiftly popped in around 10 more, far fewer than I was expecting. If you’ve never had acupuncture before, be assured they don’t hurt, they’re extremely fine and you feel just the mildest of pinpricks as they go in. With facial acupuncture, the theory is that as well as helping energy circulate around your body, the tiny traumas to the skin caused by the needles helps stimulate the production of collagen and elastin.
Wanna see a photo? Of course you do!
I also went for the optional electro-stimulation where the needles are hooked up to a super-gentle machine, creating a very mild fizzing sensation. It took me a few minutes to relax but it’s just a slightly odd sensation rather than anything painful. The benefit of the electro stimulation is that you don’t need to use as many needles because it somehow turbo-charges them (not a technical term, obvs).
Andy removed the needles after 15 minutes and next came the facial rollers. The first one was warm and filled some amazing-smelling aromatic potion that sent me into a reverie and helps relax the face. The second one was cooler and apparently stimulates the blood flow. Then came a Chinese Tui Na massage, following the pathways of trad acupuncture and using organic argan oil. This was my favourite part – I could’ve happily had a snooze, and it makes the whole thing feel more pampering than you’d expect of a needles-based treatment.
I glided out looking like I’d enjoyed the best night’s sleep ever; glowing, radiant and unusually serene. There are no needle marks so you don’t have to slink home and hide or slather your cheeks with foundation. In the coming days, my face looked more relaxed – I wasn’t holding so much tension in it and seemed to be squinting and frowning less. And when I ventured into the Muddy HQ a colleague quizzed me at length about how perky I looked. Suffice to say, I will be back. I’m not a fan of serious cosmetic procedures such as fillers or Botox but this treatment sits well with me as it’s not so invasive and feels more meaningful somehow. Yes, my face looked pretty darn amazing if I do say so myself, but I also felt a deep sense of wellbeing and relaxation too.
£60 for a 60 minute treatment – great value I say, plus you’d pay a lot more in London. If needles make you nervous, Andy charges from £45 for 45 minutes of facial massage. Or you can upgrade to the full VIP float-off-to-nirvana option, including acupuncture, massage and zero balancing for £90.
Thame Therapy Clinic, 23 Upper High St, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 3EX. Tel:01844 215 555. thametherapyclinic.co.uk
Words: Sarah O’Hanlon