Lady Gaga’s facialist can tell that my sinuses are clogged. I don’t have allergies or a cold, but Joomee Song knows that if I wanted to belt out the “Haaa-ah-ah-ah” in “Shallow,” my blocked nasal passages would hold me back from delivering the perfect note. Closed-off airflow is a bigger deal for Lady Gaga than for the rest of us, which is why Song travels with her on tour. She’s been with Gaga the past five years, starting with the Oscars in 2014.
Facials aren’t the necessities for singers that Throat Coat tea and Grether’s Pastilles are, but maybe they would be if they were more like Song’s. Unlike most facials, which focus on lymphatically draining your cheekbones, hers mostly concentrate on your sinuses and mouth (although your cheekbones do appear sculpted as a side benefit). Model Leila Rahimi told Into the Gloss that Song “basically just massages my mouth.”
Song’s focus on the mouth and nasal passages makes sense. She tells me that the strongest muscle in your body is, surprisingly, your masseter muscle — the one you use to chew. “That’s why it locks down if you pass out,” she explains. “It’s called the survival muscle.” Our masseter muscles are constantly active throughout the course of a day, chatting and eating. We grind them at night if we have bruxism, or teeth-grinding issues. A tense jaw can cause inflammation and poor circulation. According to Song, that manifests as facial puffiness and lymph blockages.
For almost an hour, Song massages my face like she’s giving me a Swedish massage on my back. If you’re of the “I don’t like facials because I don’t see why I need to pay someone to rub cream on my face” school, try to be less of a hater, because this is not that. After washing, toning, and moisturizing using May Lindstrom products, Song uses her fingertips to root around my face to find knots. After all, if you can get knots in your back from hunching over a computer screen, why can’t you get them in your face?
She gently and firmly dislodges them, working the tension out until my face feels lighter and more relaxed. It’s not just my face; she also works on the temples and cranial bones. The heaviness and subtle ache that build up in my head from stress and humid weather feel like they’ve been released. After she concludes the session with a mysterious Japanese microcurrent machine, my whole head feels light as a feather. Looking into the mirror, I see that my face looks clearer, more vibrant, and tighter (without feeling like it). My cheekbones are more defined. My jaw feels like I’ve never ever slept with my mouth open before. My face actually looks smaller, I think?
“You’ll blow your nose a little more tomorrow,” Song predicts, since she cleared and opened my nasal passages and sinuses. The next day, I go on a hike, and it might be my imagination, but I feel like I can breathe in the fresh air more fully. I can picture my alveoli filling up with air like balloons. It would be a great time for me to belt out a ballad, but I just enjoy how good my skin looks as I huff and puff up a small mountain.
Fortunately for all of us, Song has some free time before she returns to help Lady Gaga become an EGOT. She’s doing a limited residency at Tenoverten Fulton — you can learn more from her Instagram.