Like a gym membership, but for your face. With the launch of a popular ‘skin membership’ clinic in the UK from New Zealand, we look at whether membership to a skin clinic, and the perks it entails, is worth it

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You don’t expect to grow a rock hard ab from a single HIIT session, thus it follows that in applying the same logic to your face, a few sporadic blow-out facials might not garner the glowy results you’re hoping for. That’s the view of the Jackie Smith, co-founder and director of New Zealand based skin clinic Skinsmiths , which has just launched in the UK after almost 25 years of storming success down under. It's one of the raft of skincare subscription services hoping to transform the way we care for our skin, because being a creature of habit in the facial department can only be a good thing according to Jackie:

“A treat here and there is a great way to relax, but in our heart of hearts we know that great results take time.

“The truth is, no matter what your skin concerns are, regular treatments are better than one-offs. Consistency gets results. We work with clients to plan out a regular schedule of treatments, so they know what to expect, and how much it will cost. It makes it simple.”

Founded in 1994, Skinsmiths spotted a gap in the market for regular, tailored skincare plans including treatments, skincare and consistent ‘check-ups’ and launched a membership programme in New Zealand in 2009 “to make healthy skin more accessible to everyday women.” The Skinsmiths membership model recently launched in the UK, with nine clinics and counting. The idea is to make assessing skin, looking after it and maintaining results an attainable, habitual ritual, much like joining a gym. Membership options involve monthly rolling plans or yearly subscriptions and all include prerequisite perks as you’d normally be privy to with any leisure club enrollment, but instead of PT sessions and café discounts you’ll be benefitting from preferential prices on skincare and treatments and take-home product kits.

Various Skinsmiths memberships are available depending on your long-term skin goals, but an aesthetic medicine ‘Amerase’ membership starts from £35 a month and a skin health ‘Reformaskin’ membership kicks off at £65. Amerase entails regular consultations with an aesthetic specialist and offers non-invasive treatments such as injectables and microdermabrasion, while Reformaskin offers a schedule of facials to suit your skin alongside more high intensity treatments such as microneedling , fractional CO2 laser and IPL treatments to address everything from rosacea  to hyperpigmentation .

You can tailor pricing plans to suit your needs and finances (within reason) and all memberships include discounts on skincare and additional treatments, regular skincare reviews, four express detox facials to use yourself or gift to others and a skincare starter kit containing a sunscreen, cleanser and cleansing cloths. The clinic has also recently launched a series of skin confidence focused supper clubs to add a social element to joining up, while the clinic spaces themselves look more like chic members clubs than medispas - think millennial pink sofas, sheepskin rugs and succulents galore.

Given that a single facial can tot up to a triple figure price tag depending on the tech, expertise and time involved, a monthly treatment in the bag that isn’t extortionate but helps you to sustain results seems like a worthwhile investment if you can afford it and the additional benefits could help you to shave cash off of your skincare budget too. Granted, it doesn’t exactly deliver the all round health benefits that a gym membership can, but if you’ve got a special occasion or skin objective in mind, the bespoke approach and consistency element certainly make sense, especially seeing as regularity really does get results according to expert facialist Lisa Franklin :

“Although most facials deliver instantly visible results, if you want to see a real improvement in skin condition, you need to have one regularly. I recommend having a professional facial every three to four weeks, as it takes our skin 21 days to move its full life cycle of skin cell growth and exfoliation - I’d advise having a facial towards the end of every cycle to help that process along.”

As a facial skeptic, I for one might take some convincing to sign up to a skin schedule. Then again I’ve never gone ‘all in’ on skin treatments in a disciplined enough manner to observe whether they actually make a long-term difference, so a membership option, as long as a particular treatment or skincare plan suited me, would seem like a more organised and economically viable way to go about it. With an upcoming wedding I’m probably a prime candidate for a ‘skin membership’ and having a familiar skin consultant on hand plus a carefully planned treatment roster would likely avoid spur of the moment unsuitable facial disasters pre-big day - no one wants a peel burn in their wedding photos. A large part of me is resistant to the bridal prep pressure (there’s a spendy package for everything, from teeth to toes to the classic bride-to-be PT bundle), yet the year or so long window available and step-by-step journey to more even toned, clearer skin is undeniably appealing. Which is why I'm bookmarking the following and considering New Year's skin resolutions...

The aptly named Face Gym  will launch skin memberships from early 2019, offering its signature non-invasive “lifting and sculpting” face workouts alongside other extras on a regular retainer basis, with the soon to open St John’s Wood studio expanding the brand’s presence - you can now have your face regularly trained at multiple locations in London, Manchester and New York. We’re yet to discover the full details, but each membership will be needs based and feature a set amount and combination of treatments, with discounts and free facials likely thrown into the mix. The current package deals suggest that this could be a higher price point membership - the Wedding Workout includes a variety of five workouts, including cryotherapy, radiofrequency and Face Gym’s signature facial at £410 for the lot, while Clean It, Hydrate It and Lift it packages range from £300 to £525 for four facials, depending on tech involved and what you’d like to focus on. While not cheap, with the Signature facial starting at £50 and every seventh facial free, it’s not an exorbitant regular facial destination by industry standards.

Face Gym

Like making the most of gym induction sessions and complimentary first timer classes, it’s essential to give any treatment a try before you commit to becoming a “member” - Skinsmiths offers free consultations and express detox treatments to try before you buy, while the likes of the 15 minute light and laser treatment  specialists Skin Laundry  in London and Leeds offer free first time facials before you commit to one-offs or a ‘Laundry Club’ style membership.

Skin Laundry

If you’re getting results, saving money and receiving apt recompense for your loyalty, a skincare membership could be right up your street, but always read the fine print - like a gym membership gathering dust, it’s a hefty expense if you don’t fancy what’s on offer, if you’re not seeing a difference and if it all seems a bit gimmicky. Also bear in mind that if you have acne, melasma , eczema or any other skin condition, a dermatologist should be your first port of call. Sniff out the package and membership options with a skin treatment cynics’ hat on (just give me a call) before signing on any dotted lines, devour reviews and don’t succumb to the hard sell - it’s normally an indication that all is not what it seems. As for my bridal skin treatment plan (TBC, currently involves slapping on the skincare that arrives on my desk), I’ll keep you in that loop…

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