I Tested the Weird, Wild Tools Celebs Use for Chiseled Cheekbones Before the Red Carpet

The difference in my face was startling.

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FaceGym Tools
Photo: FaceGym

So much of 2020 was spent participating in self-facing-camera video calls and inspecting myself in the mirror (for lack of anything else to do) that, truth be told, I see my face differently now. Getting to intimately know my visage was on the one hand a remarkable experience, but it brought with it the eerie sensation of knowing too much — like a seasoned chef eating out at a new restaurant or a film gaffer stuck in work mode while watching the latest Marvel release.

This phenomenon is well documented, dubbed the "Zoom boom" by plastic surgeons who recorded a sharp uptick in patients seeking updates to their reflections once clinics reopened, arriving in numbers that towered over the "before times." I think what many of us came to realize was the need for solutions that went beyond skin deep. A powerful anti-aging retinol is one thing, but being able to enhance the actual architecture of our faces… well, that's a whole other pursuit.

Thankfully, not every means to that end requires being on the receiving side of a needle or knife. As numerous celebrities will attest to, the solution can be as simple as entrusting the massage-like tools of facial ″workout″ brand FaceGym. Much more than just a skincare brand (though it does offer a line of proprietary formulas), FaceGym centers its practice on activating the muscles and improving blood circulation in the face — firming here, lifting there — to create positive, age-defying effects that are both instantly appreciable and beneficial over time.

FaceGym Mini Sculpt

FaceGym Tools

Shop now: $60; facegym.com

Since 2019, stars have been turning to FaceGym's revolutionary products to get their cheekbones lifted and jawlines razor-sharp before big events. Per the brand, its suite of devices has been entrusted with getting Karlie Kloss and Carey Mulligan ready for the Met Gala; Sophie Turner, Selena Gomez, and Penelope Cruz defined for the Oscars; Elizabeth Olsen and Ellen Pompeo positively sculpted for the Emmys; Helen Mirren, Naomi Watts, and Sandra Oh lifted and radiant for the SAG Awards; and most recently, Kirsten Dunst, Margaret Qualley, and Venus Williams chiseled for the Critics Choice Awards.

My own social calendar leans a little more pedestrian (invites got lost in the mail again, I guess!), but after an exhausting sprint through New York Fashion Week this past February, I was grateful to have an appointment for a Signature Sculpt at FaceGym's NoHo studio to whip me back into shape.

FaceGym can be enjoyed at the hands of one of the company's expert practitioners or individually at home, using the brand's tools — they're the exact ones used on location, so you're able to achieve the same high-performing results from anywhere in the world. At my 45-minute appointment, my "Trainer" (as the brand calls its technicians), got to work on my face with a series of bizarre-looking objects that promised me a lifted, well-rested appearance.

FaceGym Face Ball

FaceGym Tools

Shop now: $30; facegym.com

The Mini Yoga Ball, true to FaceGym's exercise theme, reminded me of something you'd spot at a ClassPass reservation. Using the gentle grip of the ball's rubber, my trainer released a fortnight's worth of facial tension by nestling it under my cheekbone and tugging it upwards in a hook motion. The white noise of stress I was holding in my temples and jaw melted away instantaneously. I was more familiar with the appearance of the next tool my trainer reached for, but FaceGym's Mini Sculpt (pulled straight from the fridge) proved to be more versatile than the gua sha I used at home; its classic lymphatic drainage capabilities were augmented with a ridged edge that could help promote circulation in troubled areas, like my nasolabial lines.

The most impressive tool and the brand's piece de resistance is its Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS) device, the Pure Lift Face. The two-headed wand looks at first flush like any other microcurrent device, but the technology behind it is seriously impressive. The handheld, cordless tool emits electrical currents that work at muscular depth, as well as on the dermis, to strengthen and "train" facial muscles to lie in a flattering position, according to FaceGym. If you're familiar with the promise of EmSculpt technology that can emulate the effects of "20,000 crunches," Pure Lift Face is comparable, on a scaled-down level appropriate for the treatment area.

After my trainer completed working one side of my face with the device, I had a chance to peek in the mirror and compare it to the untreated side. The difference was startling. Not only did I notice the crests of my cheeks and jaw looked more defined, but my outer brow and the corner of my mouth were unquestionably more lifted and upturned for a weightless appearance.

FaceGym Pure Lift Face

FaceGym Tools

Shop now: $520; facegym.com

While they were not a part of my Signature Sculpt, FaceGym offers a few additional tools for in-studio and at-home use. The Hyaluronic Roller is equipped with 3,000 dissolving microneedles that infuse the skin with hyaluronic acid and peptides, while Faceshot more closely resembles the microneedling pens found in esthetician offices, with refillable cartridges delivering exfoliating glycolic acid. All of the brand's devices, save for the Medi Lift Mask, are available for purchase via the FaceGym website (and select items on the Sephora site), starting at $30.

The Pure Lift Face, it needs to be addressed, costs a sticker shock-inducing $520, which might make it a wholly unjustifiable purchase for some. Still, there are many reasons it's actually a sound investment: Despite having access to unlimited cosmetic procedures (which can be much more costly by comparison), major celebrities turn to this device ahead of red-carpet appearances for its undeniable and instantly visible benefits. The Pure Lift Face can also help work towards face-contouring goals over time, gradually training your muscles into place with each session — if you were to opt for weekly FaceGym studio visits instead, you'd end up spending more in just over a month, whereas a Pure Face Lift device should last you years. And finally, FaceGym's Lift is the only commercially available EMS device on the market, meaning you can rest assured you're buying the real thing, not a knock-off or unproven system.

Shop the weird, wild, and wonderful face-sculpting devices celebrities (and I) use to get event-ready at FaceGym or Sephora.

FaceGym Hyaluronic Roller

FaceGym Tools

Shop now: $95; facegym.com

FaceGym Face Shot

FaceGym Tools

Shop now: $250; facegym.com

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