Some beauticians argue that the best way to keep time at bay is to use one’s facial muscles as sparingly as possible; Eva Fraser would be horrified by the idea. She makes a distinction between the deep lines that result from habitual over-use and the slackness, which is equally ageing, that comes from the combined forces of gravity, time and inertia – ie muscle that isn’t worked enough. The facial muscles are the same as any other on the body, she asserts, and are therefore just as much in need of building, toning and firming if they are not to slacken and waste away. Since her exercises centre on isometrically building the muscles at critical points with tiny, precise movements, mastering the technique requires close one-to-one instruction. Of all the anti-ageing approaches this was easily the most onerous. But Joan Rolls, Vogue‘s fashion advertising director, loved the idea of exercising her face firm again. “It seemed a more positive reaction to ageing than resorting to scalpels and syringes.” A natural fitness enthusiast, she found the lessons “exactly like having a personal trainer” and embarked on them with gusto just weeks before her fortieth birthday. Eight months later, she says her whole face feels different, especially when she’s upside down in the gym and gravity is doing its damnedest. “The flesh definitely doesn’t feel as floppy. My cheeks are higher, plumper and rounder and my jawline firmer.” At the “after” session, make-up artist Jefferson noticed her unusually “springy” cheeks. When compared with those of an assistant on set who was barely half her age, the difference in tone and definition was, he said, “extraordinary”.
I followed Eva Fraser’s Facial Workout video and friends who saw me immediately afterwards said I looked extremely well. My face felt alive and zingy, just as your body does after a good workout. What’s more, I have talked to clients who rave about the techniques, swearing that they are the equivalent of a gentle face-lift. The difference is that surgery will only repair damage in the short term by cutting out droopy skin and pulling up what’s left. The underlying problem does not change and surgeons admit that even a good face-lift will not last more than three to five years. How does it work? The small, precise exercises concentrate on toning and expanding specific muscle groups. You need to work intensively at first to effect change, then maintenance is just a few minutes several times weekly. My facial muscles are twitching in anticipation. I feel relief that my sagging muscles can be improved by means other than surgery. – Sarah Stacey
Already popular with many women, the Facial Workout is now increasingly used by men. Designed to firm up and the facial muscles that, with age, gradually acquiesce to gravity, the Facial Workout is divided into four sessions. The first and second, involving a lot of comical facial contortions in front of a mirror with an instructor, are designed to galvanise unused muscles into action. Sessions three and four work the muscles against resistance to lift the face and create bulk. Most people notice a visible difference within eight weeks, although our volunteer found a tightening up of the face almost immediately. The Facial Workout is taught by Eva Fraser.
Heredity plays a large part in determining how individuals age, says Dr David Fenton of the St John’s Institute of Dermatology at St Thomas’s Hospital. “Much is down to luck. But from what I’ve seen of Eva Fraser’s work, there is no doubt it appears to have some effect. I’ve had patients who have been to her, and there is no doubt that there is a visible change. There is no scientific evidence, but you can see a difference.
Aged 29, a friend of mine handed me a copy of Eva Fraser’s Facial Workout book after she’d appeared in the accompanying video and said, “Here, have a go at this.” I have done facial expressions ever since. It’s amazing. I’m not even conscious of doing the exercises now because I know them so well. I might be driving the car and I’ll subconsciously be doing them. We spend so much time doing stomach crunches and making sure our bodies look toned, so why not our faces? Anthea Turner
So, there I was in her dressing room, in a huge chintzy house in South Ken, watching her put on her make-up. She’s not bad-looking, if you like the distinguished headmistress look. I must admit her skin is really amazing. Very firm, very smooth, very few wrinkles – and she must be nearly 70. She looks 50. I’ve never seen a face-lift as good as that, as far as I know and, if I have, I definitely need to know. So I told her. She was really pretty when she smiled, though I think going grey is always a mistake. “It’s not a face-lift. It’s my facial exercises,” she said. “They’re simply marvellous.” Then, suddenly, she pulled on a pair of white cotton gloves, stuck her fingers inside both her cheeks and started pulling her face about, staring at me with a manic sort of grin and rolling her eyes. “You see?” she said, her voice muffled by her mouthful. And then she pulled out a gloved forefinger and wagged it at me. “Eva Fraser!” she said, triumphantly, “Eva Fraser!” It turns out that Eva Fraser is this beauty guru in Kensington who teaches amazing face exercises. If you spend about seven minutes a day exercising your facial muscles, you stay looking 20 years younger. Vanessa Wilde
Facial fitness guru Eva Fraser is a legend to her many followers the world over. Now 71, her wonderful moulded cheekbones and taut chin line look decades younger due, she swears, to ten minutes every other day wiggling the facial muscles. It all started, she chuckles, when she was a tapestry conservationist, worried about being and looking 50. ‘I was at a reception in Germany and met this extraordinary woman called Eva Hoffman. She was 76, forthright and rather frightening, but she looked incredible. She told me she had been a ballet dancer and had noticed how all dancers had gorgeous bodies but terrible faces. Her then gentleman-friend was a doctor and he said there must be a way to keep the muscles of the face a fit as those of the body. So they worked on it and came up with this programme.’ But it wasn’t as simple as that. Eva Hoffman had retired at 70 and refused to give another lesson. ‘She had toured the world giving one-to-one lessons and made a fortune, particularly from the Arabs. At one place she had taught 30 wives over six months. They had paid her in gold – enough to keep her comfortable for the rest of her life.’ But Eva Fraser was determined ‘I went on and on at her. “I’m 50,” I said, “and I’m desperate.” It was so odd – we were both Evas and both born on Christmas Eve. Finally she said she would give me just one lesson. At the end of that, she said, “You will make a very good teacher, I will come to London and train you.” In fact she stayed a year because she enjoyed it so much.” There remained the small question of getting her methods known to the public. Magazines and newspapers laughed in her face until one journalist, Amanda Cochrane, the beauty editor of Harpers & Queen, took an interest. ‘She was so excited she rang the magazine and said they had to pull another feature – this was important.’ Amanda had understood that, although we spend billions on miracle creams, it’s not your skin which keeps your face from sagging and bagging. ‘You must build the muscles,’ explains Eva. ‘They’re the foundation. Everyone knows about muscles from the neck down but when it comes to your face, they just think a pot of cream will do it. ‘Well, I love make-up and I think it does help to keep you looking younger. And cleansing is very important, particularly using water. But I don’t like night creams very much – women don’t really need as much as they use. You need to get the foundations right, then you can paint the house.’ Four sessions, plus daily practice, with a break of two or more weeks in between each session is all it takes. Eva and her staff are totally discreet but I know women who say the effect is better than a facelift. Eva, who doesn’t eat any meat apart from fish, is also adamant about fun, weekly walks and daily stretches, fresh food and taking nutritional supplements, particularly iron. ‘If you’re feeling low, it’s nearly always being short of iron – it’s the mineral of courage.’ Talking health with Sarah Stacey, January 2000
Devotees of facial exercise claim you can alter the way you look without resorting to the surgeon’s knife. Sarah Stacey looks at the evidence. Eva Fraser, facial-exercise empress, a magnificent advertisement with taut, glowing skin and moulded facial contours without a hint of sag, bag or dewlap. Fraser swears her superb cheekbones are due to exercise, not genes. Leading aesthetic plastic surgeon Basim Matti refers patients to Eva Fraser and says, ‘I admire her method. Although there is absolutely no science to back it up, it certainly seems to improve muscle tone. ‘Friends said I looked well… My face felt alive and zingy, just as your body does after a good workout’ Sarah Stacey
Another great way to lift the face is – like the rest of the body – with exercise. A name that’s cherished by beauty aficionados is Eva Fraser. One look at Fraser, who is in her 70’s, doesn’t look a day older than 55, we’ll have you running to her clinic.