I Tried Meghan Markle’s Facial Massage and My Face Will Never Be the Same Again

The buccal massage sounds weird and invasive, but after getting one all I could think was, Where has this facial treatment been all my life?!

Getting ready for the royal wedding is no easy feat. There’s a lot of training to be done—in terms of etiquette and fitness—so a day of pampering was much needed. Since my Real Simple colleague and Road to the Royal Wedding costar, Liz Steelman, and I are committed to going to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding (somehow) and doing all the official preparations we keep reading about, we decided to look into royal-approved beauty treatments. It’s a tough task, but hey, somebody’s got to do it!

Liz got the $1,500 haircut that Kate Middleton is a fan of, so I decided to look into Meghan Markle’s favorite beauty routines. I was expecting to find the usual treatments, like a Swedish massage or a spa pedicure, but I should have known that a royal-to-be doesn’t book the same mundane treatments that regular people do. From my official research, I discovered that Meghan is a fan of something called a buccal massage (also called a buccal facial). The treatment involves a deep massage of your face—in fact, the esthetician will even massage the inside of your mouth (umm, that part made me think of scary visits to the dentist!).

While Meghan goes to London-based facialist Nichola Joss for her treatments, I went to Danna Omari, the founder of Noy Skincare in New York City, for my pampering session. “The buccal facial is a deep tissue massage where we lift and sculpt the face and improve its posture,” Omari told me. “It’s fitness for the facial muscles, which are very hard to train in any other way. ‪We are restoring the clear edges of the face as well as diminishing pouches under the eyes and sagging skin. We are essentially causing a micro trauma to the skin by the repetition of the movements, enhancing the blood flow to the surface of the skin, and nourishing the cells in order to jumpstart the production of collagen and elastin.” Sort of like a facelift without the plastic surgery—just an esthetician’s very strong hands. Granted, her mention of “micro trauma” was slightly alarming, but I thought, if Meghan does it, so shall I. For the sake of journalism.

Before my facial, I confessed two things to Omari: one, that I had never gotten a facial before; and two, I was terrified of her putting her hands inside my mouth. Omari was so kind and patient, and reassured me that it wouldn’t be as weird as I thought. “Not only will you look great, but clients feel great as well,” she told me. “It is a big stress reliever. We hold a lot of tension in our jaw. The buccal portion is so unique because we are able to access the inner muscles of the mouth, stretching, massaging, relaxing, and therefore strengthening the muscles.”

Before my facial, Omari thoroughly cleaned and exfoliated my face. My appearance was probably akin to what a snake looks like when it sheds its skin, but boy did I feel relaxed already. Then she started “cupping” my face, which involves a suction device that gently pulls your skin to “facilitate lymphatic drainage.” It sounds uncomfortable, but it was actually pretty soothing and my face felt warm (in a good way), which Omari attributed to improved circulation. Next, she massaged my face all over, which is a bit like getting a deep tissue massage on your back—there was a lot of pressure, but I didn’t feel too much pain. At this point I was so relaxed, I wanted to sleep forever. Finally, it was time for the big event: the buccal massage. Omari gently put her fingers inside my mouth and massaged my cheeks, lips, and jawline. To my surprise, it wasn’t as scary or uncomfortable as going to the dentist. In fact, if a dentist appointment was like this, I would go more than twice a year. To finish, she put a soothing oatmeal mask all over my face and wrapped it in gauze. I looked like a mummy, but a completely relaxed and blissed-out mummy.

Afterwards, it did feel like the muscles on my face had been through a workout. They weren’t exactly sore, but I was more aware that they existed. When I (reluctantly) returned to the office, my coworkers said my skin was glowing and my cheeks looked lifted. I kept touching my face (with the back of my hand, don’t worry, Danna!) because it felt so smooth and soft.

I can see why Meghan’s a fan—the buccal massage is a natural way to lift and sculpt your face, plus it’s a totally relaxing and luxurious experience. Of course, just like working out, you have to keep at it to see big changes. “Results are cumulative so it’s important to continue regular weekly sessions until you achieve your desired goal and than continue with maintenance treatments,” Omari says. I would definitely do it again, but at $250 a treatment, I don’t quite have the royal budget to book a facial on the regular.

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