When I heard about new Korean beauty centre Hanbang Skin Solutions, opened by the folks behind Yakson House, I twitched involuntarily. You see, I had once tried the Korean golki therapy at Yakson, which is a bone-setting massage that literally, er, rearranges your bone structure by sheer (expertly-applied) force. Okay, there were fantastic results. But man, you won’t forget the pain of someone squeezing you a new face shape in a hurry.
And now, Hanbang is offering geunmak therapy, which also involves a hearty facial massage. “Using Korean traditional massage techniques, this facial therapy helps relieve tension in the muscles, boost blood circulation and activate lymph nodes on the face,” its press release explains. How it works: the fascia (which is the layer of collagen-rich connective tissues right behind our skin that stabilises facial muscles) is stimulated to improve your complexion beyond what’s skin-deep. ‘Geunmak’ is also the Korean word for fascia.
“Pain or not?” I asked my friendly therapist anxiously. “No, it’s not as painful as golki therapy,” she replied reassuringly. Bonus: the therapy also has a face-slimming effect. Yes! After a skin analysis scan, the therapist determined that what I need was a Discolouration Defense Care treatment, which targets an uneven complexion caused by pigmentation. Thanks, pimples. The 70-minute treatment costs $458 per session a la carte (what, you think K-pop stars got their mochi skin for free?).
The salon uses two brands of skincare: the Japanese label Esthe Twin for anti-ageing concerns and the American skincare range SkinCeuticals, which also treats pigmentation. Which was what I got. “But I must warn you, after this facial, you will experience a slight breakout. That’s because the toxins in your muscles are being pushed to the surface after the massage,” my therapist tells me. So standby acne cream and patches, okay.
After double-cleansing my face and applying a few layers of skincare serums, the main show starts. Using the geunmak massage technique, the therapist, who had trained at Yakson House, starts kneading my face with slow, firm strokes. There was more tactile pressure than the average facial, where it feels like the therapist’s fingers are delicate butterflies flitting all over your face. But thank god, it wasn’t painful. In fact, I feel my face being skillfully pressed, pushed and thoroughly massaged to jolt my sluggish skin cells to start doing their job.
Post massage, my face felt a tad slimmer. A second skin analysis showed that my skin was slightly less red. But I still don’t look like Song Hye Kyo. A few days later, my skin really did start breaking out. I reckon one would need more than a single session for the maximum effect, since this treatment targets not just your skin surface, but what lies under it.
Hanbang Skin Solutions, #04-30 Nex, 23 Serangoon Central, S556083. Tel: 6909-5383/ 9066-8449. www.hanbangskin.com.