Katy Perry’s retro swept-back pixie cut at the 61st Annual GRAMMYs® revealed one thing: absolutely radiant skin. We’re talking about a sunshine-beams-out-of-your-face kind of glow. (OK, fine — her monochromatic pink, “flaming ice cream” COVERGIRL® makeup by Michael Anthony also looked gorgeous.) But as facial fanatics, we typically have all things skincare on our minds. Thankfully, Perry gets us, so she shared a peek at her red-carpet facial prep on Instagram® Stories.
The 34-year-old pop star shared a close-up of her pre-show facial with her longtime esthetician Thuyen Nguyen (who also does Amal Clooney and Cindy Crawford). As he rubbed a facial cupping tool around Perry’s cheeks and jaw, she joked: “Thuyen, take me back to 2008 . . . fine, 2007 . . . make me look like it’s my first GRAMMYs — not my 75th.”
We called Nguyen up on the night of GRAMMYs to get the scoop on Perry’s exact facial, plus what you need to know to try it at home.
Perry received Nguyen’s signature Instant-Lift™ Ultimate Workout Facial (starts at $500), which is meant to be done right before a celebrity goes into hair and makeup. The Instant-Lift facial is part of Nguyen’s FaceXercise™ “studios” with locations in New York (Tribeca and the Hamptons). What’s unique about the treatment is that there are no trendy machines or invasive exfoliants used. Rather, it’s a mix of intense lymphatic drainage featuring Nguyen’s magic hands coupled with facial cupping. Both techniques are meant to sculpt, tone, and contour the face.
[Editor’s note: As always, talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any new treatment, especially if you take blood thinners.]
“It’s completely natural, which most of my celebrity clients like,” he shares. “It resets the face if someone is tired or puffy.”
The big deal with face massage and part of why it’s risen in popularity the past few years is because it improves the skin’s elasticity. This is what makes skin look tight and youthful. “Elasticity is the skin’s ability to bounce back,” Nguyen notes. “You can train the skin to have [better] elasticity, but it only works through manual cross friction. No skincare products out there can [improve] elasticity [on their own], because elasticity [can be trained through] an action. That’s like saying a product can build up muscle tone. You can only build muscle tone through exercise.” (Hence the brand name FaceXercise.)
To complement the massage and give his fingers some slip, Nguyen uses products from his own line Thuyen Skincare™. Specifically, he applied Multi-Vitamin Nourishing Serum, Hydrating & Tightening Instant Dew Travel Whip, and Smooth Out Wrinkle & Frown Line Cream. “I used three, in this case, because the winter has been so dry, and she’s a non-stop traveler,” he explains.
Thuyen developed the “backbar” organic line, perfecting the formulas on his own clients, before selling it to the public in March 2018. “I have a no-breakout record with my skincare, which is very unusual, so that’s why you can use it on sensitive skin,” he notes. “I use everything from organic coconut oil to meadowfoam oil and organic aloe. The way it’s formulated and the chemistry doesn’t react [negatively] on the skin. But it still works and has very powerful antioxidants.”
It makes sense, then, that Perry would trust Nguyen with her skin. She is known to to have acne, which she shared when she was the face of Proactiv Solution® skincare. That said, if you have oily or sensitive skin, you can always patch test a new product on your arm or talk to your dermatologist to see if it’s right for you.
But don’t bother dropping a Benjamin or two on the luxury products, if you’re not physically going to do the work to, well, make them work. “You have to work it in with the [right] technique, because skincare products can only do so much,” Nguyen explains. “The way I work the technique with my hands in the facial, it pushes [the formula] through over and over. It relaxes the skin to open up and drink in the elixirs. That’s why I am adamant that you can apply product, but unless you knead the skin and make it receive [the product], you won’t accomplish your skincare goals.”
He goes on: “I always say, I’d rather you not buy the product if you’re not going to take the time to massage it in, because the ingredients activate through the heat of your fingers while you rub it in,” Nguyen says. “My product averages at $200 per ounce. And you’re going to spend $200, but you tell me you don’t have one minute to rub it in? Then, don’t buy it [laughs].”
The beauty in Nguyen’s technique is that it’s fairly easy to do at home. “Take a minute in the shower to rub the skin in different directions,” he explains. “Don’t try to choreograph it. Just rub it and knead it vigorously. The skin is a reactive organ. The skin is meant for you to knead it and work it.”
He also mentions that you can get creative. “Squeeze your cheek and hold it a bit, use knuckles and mimic electronic massages — can’t go wrong,” he adds. “Challenge the skin by kneading it in different directions.” Who knew a red-carpet worthy glow was just a pinch and squeeze away?