Learning face exercises that give your skin an unprecedented boost – plus the €33 experience that will give you your best night’s sleep
Agnes Gajewska is probably Ireland’s best facialist. Her face yoga treatments are in huge demand – if you’ve ever tried to book one, you’ll know; you can sometimes get a cancellation, either at Essentials in Baggot Street or Brown Thomas Planet Beauty on Clarendon Street, where she is in residence once a month. Agnes is in demand for good reason. She offers a concrete alternative to injectables, invasive treatments or interventions – she snorts at the idea of “preventative Botox”, for example, and loves to see 20-year-olds who are on the brink of it, to show them another option. This is the person to go and see when you want to learn how to really and properly look after your face.
The thing is, face yoga is like any form of exercise. It takes a bit of effort, and needs building into your routine. It’s not a quick fix, and it will take a bit of time. But once you’re in the habit, you will absolutely notice the benefits. There is no magic pill to great skin, Agnes will remind us – but if you can commit to a few minutes each day, the results are real.
I spent a fascinating day at her workshop on Sunday. It was held in Offgrid in Bray, run by Dean Smith, a venue that offers everything from yoga and pilates to sound baths and heated classes (how good does Hot Mat Pilates sound?). It’s a calm space that’s well-equipped; there are also infrared saunas and ice baths.
The workshop incorporated tutorials with Agnes sharing her knowledge, from how to ease the “11” lines between your brows to facial massage exercises designed to help smooth your forehead, lift the brow area and focus on lymphatic drainage. “It’s a ten-week course in a day,” Agnes says. While it’s hard to get an appointment with her, she wants these techniques to be available to everyone, as she is passionate about their benefits. I’m now glued to her Instagram @agnesgajewska, for demos of many of the movements as a reminder.
Agnes uses Irish skincare products in her Offgrid workshop, including Nunaia.
We learned many of the techniques that Agnes uses in her facials, including gua sha (I admit to having several gua sha tools but never really knowing how to use them properly – for this reason alone the day was worth doing). We learn about breathwork, posture and body brushing, cupping, buccal massage (from inside the mouth) and kinetic tape. All of this helps to stimulate the skin and almost “iron” it out, so that you leave the session feeling almost as good as if you’d had a treatment. The exercises are particularly beneficial if you suffer with teeth grinding/bruxism, as they really help ease the muscles around your jaw and cheekbone area.
For the neck and jawline area, Agnes believes that “there is no need to have painful and expensive treatments such as ultherapy for the jawline – these are no use without correct posture and breathing techniques”. As well as focussing on areas like the “jowls” and neck, she shows us exercises for parts we’ve never even considered, such as your tongue position, and how to massage your ears. All the movements take time, but even if you choose just a few and do them each day, you will notice the difference, she tells us.
After a healthy and delicious lunch provided by Dean, we had the chance to enjoy the infrared sauna, followed by an (optional) ice bath, a la Wim Hof. This is as startling and invigorating as you can imagine, and I can see how people get addicted to the great calm energy you feel when you emerge. It’s the ultimate in mind over matter, and Dean enthuses about how calm we will be afterwards (though a driving session with my teenage learner later in the afternoon certainly challenges this). But what sleep! I have rarely slept so well and so deeply. And I will be returning – you can book an hour’s session and have the sauna and ice pool to yourself for €33 (€55 for two), and there are bundle offers too.
See www.faceyogabyagnes for more details, and the online shop. Agnes’ next face workshop is online in July (€120). It’s a refreshingly natural and achievable approach to your face and skin, and a fascinating learning curve.
Offgrid, 51a Main Street, Bray, Co Wicklow; www.offgridrecoveryandwellness.ie
Sculpting Session by Agnes (75 minutes, €180) at Planet Beauty, Clarendon Street, Dublin 2; www.brownthomas.com