Saving Face With Inge Theron
Believing that exercises for the face are as important as those for the body, Inge Theron’s FaceGym is changing the beauty landscape
Illustration By Jamie Beard
Born and raised in South Africa, Inge Theron moved to London in 1994 where her entrepreneurial spirit fully took root. She studied journalism, worked on radio stations and even started her own branding agency. She eventually turned to writing a column for the Financial Times titled Chronicles of a Spa Junkie; her passionate interest in beauty took her round the world where she was able to learn about different cultures and their approach to treatments and skincare. In 2015, Inge created her own brand which she called FaceGym, bringing a fresh and revolutionary new approach. We talk to Inge about her life, her entrepreneurial spirit, and how FaceGym is having an effect in changing the beauty landscape for the better.
Glorious: When did your interest in beauty and wellness begin and what was your inspiration behind FaceGym?
Inge Theron: I’ve always been passionate about skincare, beauty and wellness which is what brought me to start my career as an editor. I landed a job at the Financial Times and became known as ‘The Spa Junkie’, where I spent over ten years exploring the latest high-end aesthetics, fitness, and nutrition treatments, putting them to the test and reviewing them for my column. As time went on the treatments were becoming more invasive and the real turning point was after a particular thread lift facial which left me housebound – I thought there must be a better way to age confidently and gracefully. It was my Eureka moment. I knew I wanted to change the beauty industry and I wanted to change how it works; we as women shouldn’t be faced with this constant pressure to have to have invasive treatments and procedures just to feel good about ageing, we need to stop vilifying age. FaceGym is not in the beauty industry, we’re in the confidence-boosting industry. We start at a place that says, you are already GREAT! And we take that great version of you and just amplify it, making you the absolute best version of yourself. We give you that kick-ass, empowered feeling when you leave the gym – but for your face and your skin.
Glorious: FaceGym is revolutionary, but how long was the process before bringing it to fruition and what challenges did you face?
Inge Theron: Before I launched FaceGym I had never done anything operational before, I just had this great idea. Then all of a sudden when the chairs were full, I realised this is actually happening – I had no idea how to run a business. I remember the first 12 months were really tough – one vivid memory I have is being seven months pregnant and stopping the traffic in Selfridges to try and get people to come to the pop-up and try a workout. During the first year of the brand, I essentially had three babies, my two young daughters and FaceGym. It was a ride but I don’t have any regrets and I wouldn’t change anything. I found my way and we got through it. I’m so proud of where we are as a business today and that all came from building it up from nothing. If you have passion, you can achieve anything.
Glorious: Facial exercises are not new, but FaceGym is still relatively young in a competitive beauty industry, so were you surprised that nobody had developed and popularised the concept before?
Inge Theron: There’s always been so much discussion around hybrid fitness and workouts for the body but no one has thought about this for the face too, no one had connected the dots. If you’ve ever gone to a bootcamp or exercised your body you know the great benefits you get from regular workouts, your muscles strengthen and the skin becomes tighter and healthier; it’s exactly the same for your face, too. If you train your facial muscles, they will retain memory, become stronger and help prevent sagging. That’s why FaceGym is so innovative, we are educating our customers with an understanding of this. I wanted people to realise the face muscles are the same as the muscles in your body, you need to adopt a facial fitness routine just like you do in the gym for your body to see fantastic results. Our methods are all about toning, tightening, lifting, sculpting and brightening to deliver instantly visible results you can see and feel.
Glorious: There are now 12 FaceGym studios across the UK and US. Were you hands-on with a team in sourcing a location and following through to inception?
Inge Theron: Absolutely, FaceGym is my baby and I’m always highly involved in every decision when it comes to the brand. From finding the perfect spot to open our latest location to helping source pre-used and recycled materials for the studio fixtures and pulling out all the stops to make sure the experience exceeds every client’s expectation. It’s always ‘all hands on deck’ with a new studio and I just love being a part of it and seeing my vision come to life all over again in new countries and cities. FaceGym began with a little studio pop-up in Selfridges so we could truly bring to life our unique facial workout concept, and now to see where we are is incredible. I’m so proud of our standalone studios, we currently have four in London, two in New York and one in Los Angeles alongside studios situated in the stores of our brilliant retail partners Selfridges, Nordstrom and Saks. Watch this space for more.
Glorious: FaceGym has shaken up the beauty industry with its non-invasive approach, but given your experiences, does it frustrate or upset you that invasive surgery is so popular?
Inge Theron: It definitely frustrates me that for years now women have been subjected to feeling that invasive surgery or treatments are the only option. I found when I was working as a journalist and testing out all of these treatments that over time, they were getting more and more invasive, it was ramping up and there seemed to be this real pressure that we as women had to get on board with it. Every treatment I’d have I would end up feeling worse than when I arrived. I’d be given a huge, extensive ‘shopping list’ of thousands of pounds worth of more treatments, more products – it was taking all of my confidence. That’s why I knew with FaceGym I had to turn things around and show everyone there was a better way.
Glorious: Do you think there will ever be a time when women will be happy to age gracefully?
Inge Theron: I think we’re already starting to see that time coming now, women are embracing it more and more and that fills me with such joy. We as women, as a collective, need to stop the demonising of the ageing process and instead turn it into a positive – learn to love the skin we’re in. We’ve already started to see a shift in the approach to Botox and injectables, many women are dissolving fillers in favour of a more natural look. That’s the message we’ve been sending out since we launched FaceGym, there is another way, we can give you ultimate skin confidence no matter your age.
Glorious: FaceGym has its own skincare range, how do these products complement a face workout and what sets them apart from others on the market?
Inge Theron: We’ve just celebrated one year since we launched our debut collection of skincare and I couldn’t be prouder of the successes we’ve already achieved. We always receive so much praise for our workouts and we started to get questions from our community asking when we were going to bring out our own skincare collection too. It was always part of the plan but, knowing our community wanted it pushed the plan forward. They are at the heart of everything we do. The workouts and the tools combined were delivering exceptional results you could see instantly but I wanted to take these results to the next level and create high-performance, results-driven skincare products that would bolster these exceptional results even further. FaceGym Skincare is the fuel you need to train your skin for stronger, healthier, youthful-looking skin that radiates confidence. Every product we create is conceptualised and developed with skin metabolism in mind, that’s what sets us apart. Similarly to your body, your skin has its own metabolism and our skincare works to revolutionise your skin health at a structural level and provide the building blocks for cellular structure. Like a personal trainer in a bottle that you can take home and use anytime, anywhere, to help you hit your skin goals.
Glorious: For someone new to FaceGym, what products do you recommend?
Inge Theron: Firstly, it has to be Active Blast. It’s a complete game-changer, a world first. You’ve never seen anything like this or results like this before. 14 years in the making, our vegan collagen innovation is clinically proven to deliver smoother, more radiant and more youthful-looking skin. It renews skin in seven days and transforms skin in 28-days. Once you try it, I guarantee you’ll be hooked. Every single day I use Hydro-Bound serum, morning and night. It’s completely changed my skin. With multi-molecular Ha4, Polyglutamic Acid, Niacinamide, Bio-Lifting Complex and Marine Bioferments, the power-packed formula delivers serious hydration and empowers the skin to rebuild and improve its own structure. It has made my skin firmer, taken away my redness and it’s helping me with my fine lines and wrinkles. I can’t say enough about this product, I love it. Another favourite serum is our Youth Reformer which I use as part of my evening rituals. The formula is so powerful for de-stressing the skin and the mind, the active ingredients including Vitamin C, Patchouli Extract and Microalgae help to calm the skin, reduce redness and inhibit Cortisol expression in the skin for a more radiant, smoother and plumper appearance. You wake up in the morning and look like you’ve had a facial.
If you’re new to FaceGym, I’d recommend trying our Signature Skin Mini Kit, it has four of our award-winning skincare heroes in mini size, Electro-Lite cleanser, Hydro-Bound Hyaluronic Acid + Niacinamide serum, Youth Reformer Vitamin C serum and Supreme Restructure moisturiser so you can get your glow on anytime, anywhere. It’s the perfect starter kit to introduce your skin to the FaceGym routine. Little bottle, huge results!
Glorious: Wellbeing is important to you, but aside from keeping your face in shape, what is your fitness routine and do you play any sports?
Inge Theron: I always start the day with some gentle stretching when I first wake up to release any tension from my night’s sleep and warm up my body and muscles for the day ahead. I do the school drop off every morning with my girls then I’ll usually walk home, a fast walk, to get my daily steps in. I do Pilates twice a week, I love reformer Pilates and once a week I do Ashtanga yoga. I’m also a big believer in meditation and manifesting. I do both every morning to make sure I start my day in the best possible mindset and to set myself up for a successful day ahead. Wellbeing is as much for your mindset and mental health as it is for your body. Taking time for yourself every day is so important, whether that’s in the morning or in the evening, just five minutes of ‘you’ time can make all the difference.
Glorious: FaceGym is one of your businesses, but you’re also the founder and creative director of a spa consultancy and management company. How do you split your time and juggle your career with a young family?
Inge Theron: Of course it is a juggling act. Alongside FaceGym I have my children, my writing, spa designing and programming plus a number of other personal projects. It’s all about balance and making sure you dedicate time to every aspect. When I’m working, I’m working but then when I’m with my family, my daughters, they have my full attention, I dedicate that time to them 100%. It’s absolutely possible to keep it all going but you have to be dedicated to make it work. You can’t be half in, you have to be fully committed. You just have to know you want it so badly that the passion is truly there. Always remember why you started, it’s that passion that drives you through.
Glorious: As a spa lover, where are your favourite spas and why?
Inge Theron: I’ve been lucky enough to visit so many beautiful, incredible spas all around the world it’s impossible to choose. Spas in Mexico and Thailand would be two of my favourite destinations, they have such a unique wellness culture, with spiritual elements too which I love. As part of my work designing and programming spas I’ve been involved in the concept and launch of many spas around the world including Tierra Santa at the Faena Hotel in Miami and The Bulgari in London which is something I’m incredibly passionate about – and there’s more coming this year too.
Glorious: What advice would you give to budding young entrepreneurial women?
Inge Theron: Being a female entrepreneur definitely comes with its challenges. We’ve come a long way with more and more incredibly brilliant, successful women heading up businesses and changing the game and it’s opened up doors for many other women. But there is still a long way to go. For me, whenever I have felt challenged or not taken seriously, I always go back to focusing on my self-belief. One of my favourite mantras is, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it – and what I mean by that is, you have to be able to close your eyes and see the big picture, see yourself as the boss, see yourself at the head of the table and running the show. Never lose sight of that. Don’t let anyone crush your dreams, your goals or your confidence. Believe in yourself, believe you can find the solutions, believe you can achieve everything you set out to do and you will.
Glorious: Can you tell us what you’re working on next?
Inge Theron: We are really just getting started. There is so much more to come this year and beyond. Global expansion is very much on our radar, continuing to spread the FaceGym message far and wide and opening doors throughout the world. We also have our first foray into hotel and spa residencies which I’m incredibly excited about – my two worlds coming together. Of course, we will continue to innovate in both skincare and tools for FaceGym; we have incredible, ground-breaking launches on the horizon – I can’t say too much right now but be prepared for total skin transformation. Our community is also a huge part of our plans, they really do drive us and keep us going so we’re continuing to build on those relationships. We keep them involved at every point. We’re certainly not slowing down or taking a back seat.