We tried Emface, the buzzy new muscle-toning treatment for your face (no needles required)

Is a non-invasive treatment that promises results to rival a face lift too good to be true? A beauty editor investigates...

A close up of a woman wearing a towelled headband touching her nose and cheeks with her hands/ in a pink watercolour paint-style template
(Image credit: Getty Images/Catherine Falls Commercial)

Tempted to invest in Emface, the so-called "alternative" to wrinkle-smoothing injectables? After putting this non-invasive, in-salon treatment to the test, I've written this detailed Emface review to help you decide if it's right for you – complete with before and after pictures.

First things first, as a beauty journalist I think it’s important to be transparent about what I have had "done" to help retain a youthful appearance. Before I turned 40, I had never had any kind of aesthetic treatment; instead, I stuck to using the best hyaluronic acid serums and best face moisturisers. However, my skin has changed dramatically in the last few years thanks to inevitable ageing, genetics, hormones, environmental aggressors and life in general. And so I started on a little tweakment journey. 

I have had Botox for niggling wrinkles forming on my forehead and Profhilo, the hyaluronic acid skin booster, to restore my tired-looking skin. The caveat for any treatment I have done is that I don’t ever want to look like I have had too much help – I want to look like me, but better. There have been whisperings on the beauty circuit of a brilliant new non-invasive treatment called Emface, which promises to tighten and lift features without the need for injectables. So when the swanky new Galen Clinic in London invited me to try it, I was there in a shot.

What is Emface?

"Emface is a non-invasive treatment that stands as a viable alternative to Botox," Dr. Andreas Androulakakis M.D., Consultant Plastic Surgeon and co-founder of the Galen Clinic, tells me. "It’s ideal for patients who may not be ready for or prefer to avoid anti-wrinkle injections."

With fewer wrinkles, more lift and no needles in sight, the Emface device works both superficially on the surface of the skin and within the facial muscles themselves. Created by BTL Aesthetics, already known for its clever muscle stimulator Emsculpt, practitioner-led Emface aims to tighten and tone your face using synchronised radiofrequency and HIFESTM (high-intensity facial electrical stimulation). 

How does Emface work?

There are two key elements to the Emface treatment. Radiofrequency (RF) generates heat, which stimulates the production of collagen, elastin and new skin cells. Meanwhile, high intensity facial electromagnetic stimulation (HIFES™) delivers electromagnetic pulses to contract specific facial muscles to tone, restore and elevate support of your features. 

"It’s like giving your face a workout routine to stay toned," says Dr. Androulakakis. "It leaves your face sculpted from the inside out." A bit like pilates for the face, it’s ideal for tackling that mid-face droop that affects the majority of us post–45.

Who would benefit from Emface?

Talking of "the droop" (slack skin that doesn’t snap back anymore), this is one of the key things that Emface can address. "As we age, the production of collagen and elastin decreases, leading to wrinkles, sagging and loss of elasticity," notes Dr. Androulakakis. 

Emface helps to promote elastin (for bounce) and collagen (for firmness and strength) without the need for any downtime. By emitting both synchronised RF and HIFES™ energies, Emface can effectively target both the skin and muscles. This "results in a reduction of wrinkles and fine lines while contouring, tightening the skin and enhancing the facial structure," explains Dr. Tapen Patel, Medical Director at the PHI Clinic.

A picture of Charley Williams-Howitt laying down with her eyes closed getting the Emface treatment.

Charley during the Emface treatment

(Image credit: Future)

What happens during an Emface treatment?

The pre-treatment process is pretty simple, unlike lasers, which may need numbing and downtime. Before your treatment, your cheeks and forehead are cleaned with an alcohol wipe and a grounding pad is taped to your back. Wires come from the pad and are attached to the Emface machine to ground the energy and conduct it to the pads on your face. 

While reclining on a treatment bed, a practitioner will then attach three electrodes with single-use adhesive pads to specific points of your face, one on your forehead and one on each cheek. The HIFES™ energy contracts your facial muscles, causing your face to crinkle and lift – and, as the radiofrequency is emitted, you’ll feel slight heat.

"Unlike extensive facial surgery or dermal fillers, there is no downtime required, nor the need for at-home recovery, stitches, compression masks, or dressings," says Dr Patel.

What does Emface feel like?

Once switched on, the first thing that happens is a slight vibration around the application points and a warm sensation on my skin. The radiofrequency temperature rises to around 40-42°C. As the energy impulses ramp up, so does my facial twitching, which feels slightly strange to start with but isn't uncomfortable. My face, especially the lower half, involuntary scrunches as the buzz hits; my top lip jerks upwards, like a horse baring its teeth. (Yes, you’ll be pleased to know there is video evidence!)

Disclaimer: there is never any feeling of pain, just a slight metallic taste in my mouth. The treatment lasts about 20 minutes and there is no downtime or discomfort afterwards, just a flushed "post-workout" face.

A side-by-side picture of Charley Williams-Howitt showing the before and after results of her Emface treatment.

Charley showing the before and after results of the treatment

(Image credit: Future)

The results

Ideally, a series of four sessions spaced one week apart is recommended, with the most positive changes evident a month or so after the final treatment. I am not naive enough to think that one session will work miracles on my less-than-slick profile, but I am secretly hopeful. 

Apart from my slightly red face, the other thing I immediately notice is the gradient of my jawline, which previously looked somewhat slack and "lazy" but now appeared more defined and, dare I say it? Snatched. Can you imagine the results I’ll get after another three sessions? (P.S. I’ve booked them already.)

The cost of Emface varies from clinic to clinic, but the total cost for four sessions is around the £3,500–£4,000 mark

Charley Williams-Howitt

Charley Williams-Howitt has over 20 years of experience working in the beauty industry. As well as previously writing for lifestyle titles, such as woman&home, Woman and Woman's Weekly, Charley has worked for British institutions like Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, and Superdrug creating visual and editorial content cross-platform. Starting her career in the fashion cupboard at Cosmopolitan magazine, she eventually escaped the piles of clothes to discover a world of makeup, moisturizers, and models.