I've never really liked massages. Because of my scoliosis, my neck and back pain run deep — deeper, I think, than any pair of hands can reach — and, as far as beauty treatments go, I'd rather have blackheads forced out of my nose while my eyes well up with tears during a hardcore facial than a slippery, supposedly "relaxing" full-body rubdown.
But just because 99.9% of massages don't satisfy my needs doesn't mean I'm closed off to accepting new treatments with the potential to change my mind. That's how I found that rare .1%, a massage I don't just tolerate, but enjoy. Best of all, it just so happens to be French.
Meet Caudalie's Vinoslim Firming Treatment... and try not to immediately judge it by its name. Anything advertised as "slimming" is an instant red flag, as it should be. But this isn't about a trendy L.A. juice cleanse or a new non-invasive procedure that promises to melt belly fat in just six 30-minute sessions, because those things are mostly bullshit. What I'm talking about is a massage — and an uncomfortable one, at that, favored by chic French women who get this sort of thing done on a regular basis.
Esthetician Daphne Coulmance, who works out of the Caudalia spa here in New York, tells me that, in France, everyone gets treatments like the Vinoslim. The experience itself is simple, and not nearly as relaxing as what you'd expect from a typical massage, nor does it purport to be. The "massage" is actually a palpating rolling technique that treats your skin like raw pizza dough, and it forces you to breathe faster than a brand-new member of Bhagwan.
In theory, the rapid squeezing of the skin makes sense. This is a body-contouring technique that's been around for years — the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery even recommends treatments similar to the Vinoslim as a non-surgical alternative to reducing stress marks and cellulite (if that's what you're into). The deep pressure is temporary, but the effects are longer-lasting the more often you get the treatment. Not only does it help boost circulation, break down cellulite, relieve stress, and contour the body, it also promotes lymphatic drainage, which just so happens to be the trendiest term in skin care at the moment.
Take it all with a grain of salt, but if you're familiar with gua sha (the skin-scraping trend all over Instagram), you may have heard of the idea that you can drain the "toxins" out of your body — specifically, your lymph nodes. Like small nets that filter through all the fluid that runs through your lymphatic system, nodes trap bacteria and viruses. Take Care founder and L.A.-based esthetician Sadie Adams tells me that when those nodes are blocked or clogged — kind of like your pores — shit can hit the fan in the form of breakouts, rashes, cellulite, and, in extreme cases, lymphedema. In other words, good circulation throughout your lymphatic system (a.k.a. fluid drainage) promotes healthy and glowing skin.
That same school of thought can be applied to the entire body — hence why I've been convinced that uncomfortable massaging like the Vinoslim is the only treatment I'm willing to get. It may not heal my back spasms, but it certainly makes me feel better than a 45-minute Pilates reformer class. In fact, Coulmance says that's what brings French women back over and over again: You just feel healthier once it's over. Like the relieved, decompressed sensation you get after a long car ride when you've finally pulled over to the rest stop to pee, but way more chic, Vinoslim will make you want to stare at yourself naked for a few moments while you sip your mandatory cup of organic herbal tea (replacing those drained fluids is key post-massage). At least, that's what I did.