As you must know by now, butts are all the rage when it comes to skin-care products and specialty services—Bum Bum Cream was just the beginning. And so, of course, the oxymoronic butt facial has become increasingly popular as our beauty aisle shelves started filling up with butt sheet masks.
You might be wondering why anyone needs a butt facial. The answer is: Nobody needs anything, but who wouldn't want a relaxing spa experience that involves a nice gluteal exfoliation? Well, if you're looking for a chill service, you're probably best off forgoing the spa, and doing an at-home butt mask, after setting a soothing playlist, lighting a couple of candles in your room, and sticking on one of those masks. Because, as I learned, a spa's butt facial is far more intense than just a quick scrub of dead skin cells and an expertly applied butt mask.
Actually, a butt facial can and often does involve exfoliation and masking, but the main task for the aesthetician is not so much smoothing the skin but, instead, working what's underneath it. Butt facials are less about serums and more about toning and lifting the muscles—at least that was my experience at Smooth Synergy, a Manhattan location that offers a "Fanny Facial." What I found out on my visit there was that this means stimulating your muscles with a micro-current machine that contracts and releases your muscles to achieve post-workout results without the increased heart rate.
Because I love going into things completely blind, I didn't know what I was in for, so I was definitely surprised when an aesthetician named Michelle put sticky pads all over my butt, in line with my muscles, and then, using a terrifying amount of wires, hooked those pads up to a machine. Michelle explained that different sizes of pads are used depending on the size of the butt; she told me she'd used the small ones on me, and I tried not to take it too personally.
Once I was hooked to the machine, Michelle turned a few levers, and the muscles in my butt were contracted, then released, by the pads. Though it hurt at first, the uncomfortable feeling subsides after a minute, and you just feel like you're doing squats, without the inevitable leg cramps. I was actually really enjoying it by the time that the machine was turned off, and I was treated to a relaxing mask and sent on my way.
This contract-and-release movement gives you pretty much the same results as a killer squat workout will, but didn't make me exhausted. And, though the priority is on the muscles, the benefits of the micro-current machine's powers also include encouraging lymphatic drainage. Not only will it help flush waste and toxins from the body, but this also makes the skin brighter, clearer, and less puffy.
If you're looking for something even more relaxing or skin-focused, dermatologist Rita Linkner—who will be performing butt facials at this year's Butt-Con, which I'm so happy exists—says that pretty much anything is possible. "You can do microdermabrasion on the body and the butt, you can do chemical peels, you can do a lot of things to make the tone, the complexion, the texture, all of that more even and uniform," she tells me.
Plus, she says, a lot of the work that goes into making your butt look smoother is all to do with the skin-care regimen you have going on at home. If you don't think about skin care as going below the neck, maybe start by paying better attention to your skin back there before looking into a treatment. You may see results from the comfort of your own shower. "I make sure my patients [know] that 50 percent of [the process] is skin care and the other 50 percent is what we do at the office," she says.
That said, Linkner also performs butt facials that work to reduce the look of stretch marks, and uses injectables to "lift" the butt (aka a Brazillian butt lift), which are more permanent and feature-altering than a sheet mask is, or even than being hooked up to a micro-current machine. Since so much is possible for this particular body part, it's important that you go into a butt facial, or any kind of service that promises to "improve" your body in some way, with the right intentions. Linkner points out that (duh) a lot of body insecurity comes from Instagram, which means that, inevitably, people are seeking services like this "younger and younger." "It's really going beyond the face now," she adds.
Could I see a difference upon leaving Smooth Synergy? Not a huge one, though I will say that my muscles were slightly sore, like I had done a particularly good workout. The scrub and mask had made my skin feel smooth to the touch, and I felt like my butt looked brighter. Michelle told me that, in order to see the results that the service promised, clients had to come back seven to 10 times for the 40 minutes of squat-adjacent pulsations. I feel like I could get the same results if I actually got my butt (ha ha) in gear and got to the gym.
As for other services, personally, I don't have a problem with my stretch marks, seeing as they're basically just a side effect of having a human body. I don't care to have them lightened, nor do I want them to disappear altogether. But, I do have to admit that I've been skimping out on the gym recently, so I loved being able to get a little bit of tone while scrolling absentmindedly through Instagram.