The £35 jade stone that gives your face a new lease of life, by Lisa Armstrong
Just before Christmas, I found myself sitting at a stranger’s dining table with a jade implement in my hand which I couldn’t stop massaging into my face. There must be something instinctive that makes humans want to press jade against their skin – perhaps it’s the smoothness. Or the cooling properties, which reduce swelling so effectively. Or how it becomes warm, which feels good too – not least because that warmth is heat that it’s drawing out of your body.Katie Brindle (the stranger in question, although she wasn’t by the end of our two-hour session) spent years – and tears, she says – researching the right jade for her purpose: not so thin it would shatter easily, but it also had to be affordable (it’s £35).Then she spent more time experimenting with shape, finally coming up with her oversized-plectrum-meets-miniature-artist’s-palette, with its flat sides that are so effective at de-puffing eyes when you hold it firmly against them first thing in the morning, and its curved edges, ideal for massaging and firming the jaw line.
You can find dozens of similar jade face massagers on the Alibaba and Amazon websites. The Chinese have sworn by the beauty and health properties of jade for centuries, believing it to be the perfect balance of yin and yang. Brindle thinks none of the others on the market quite touches hers. And since hers is the only one I’ve tried, contradiction seems pointless.
A word or six about Brindle. She trained as an opera singer. Then she studied Chinese medicine but she isn’t one of those Chinese medicine practitioners who rejects all things western. Her speciality is inflammation – the low level variety that becomes (she believes) high level disease if it isn’t nipped in the bud. A thimble of prevention is worth a bucketful of cure is one of her favourite mottos.
Inflammation, as we know, is at the root of many serious ills and caused by a myriad of triggers – stress, poor diet, over-fatigue, pollution etc. Her mission is to keep it at bay on a daily basis and she has all sorts of simple or cheap, sometimes free, strategies for doing so (such as a bathing ritual that I’ll go into another time as there’s too much to discuss here already).
Many of her anti-inflammatory techniques cross over to what might be termed beauty treatments – not that that makes them any less potent. As she says, “beauty is the outward manifestation of good health”. She doesn’t mean the airbrushed beauty you see in fashion magazines (which is often a manifestation of something quite different) but glowing skin, toned muscles, luxuriant looking hair, clear eyes…
So now a word about her Face Restorer, because that’s the jade plectrum thingy I picked up in her flat and started playing with. I didn’t know what I was doing initially, but it’s all pretty intuitive: you press it against the planes of your face, massage it along your jaw and dig the points into your lines and wrinkles. After 50 seconds I looked in the mirror and was astonished to see how my cheekbones, eyebrows and jaw line had tightened and lifted.
“Hmm,” I said, “obviously the results will disappear in 20 minutes.”
“Do it twice a day religiously for one minute each time for a month,’’ Brindle told me, and “your face and skin will never look back”. Her own eyebrows were so droopy a year ago she considered a brow-lift.
Not any more. She hasn’t returned for her once regular Botox injections either. It’s not that she rules them out, but for now she doesn’t need them. Seems a balanced approach to me. Or as she says, “I may be a Chinese medicine practitioner, but I’m a vain Chinese medicine practitioner.
Eight weeks on from that meeting, I’m constantly complimented on my skin. A make-up artist (ergo someone who saw it close up in brutal light) said it was like porcelain. Good going for someone well into their 50s.
I love this piece of kit because it’s small, light (I keep it in my make-up bag), affordable, requires no batteries, doesn’t beep – and has just been endorsed by victoriahealth.com.
You can use it first thing in the morning when you look your worst to revive your eye area, sitting behind your computer during the day, or last thing in bed. This is when Brindle recommends you go in hard, massaging until you turn red and blotchy, “because when you really get going you can increase circulation by 400 per cent, flush out toxins and flood the face tissues with oxygen. You’ll stimulate collagen, elastin and the enzyme H01, which clears inflammation, and feel the gristly nodules along your jaw reduce.” Traditionally, Brindle says, the Chinese use a facial roller afterwards, but she doesn’t see the need.
The one-minute massage technique (her video demonstration is on her website and on telegraph.co.uk) is called Gua Sha, which means press and stroke, and Brindle thinks anyone can benefit. “Even in our 20s we hold so much stress and tension in our faces which makes them look pinched.”
The jade must be used on lubricated skin. Water will do, although I like oils because they feel more nourishing. Brindle recommends doing a 20-minute facial massage (excellent during those box-set lulls) twice a week.
There’s a metal version for the body, which gets results on cellulite and feels amazing on the soles of the feet, especially bunions and, says Brindle, can help you sleep. She’s bringing out a serrated jade version soon to work on scalps to stimulate hair growth and alleviate headaches… “I could have just brought out some nice smelly oils (she did that too), but I wanted to give people simple tools that would really have an effect on their well-being. It’s about small steps to better health.”