Two words, ladies - listen in: cellulite relief. Readers, I know where of I speak. I used to be a beauty editor at this very magazine, and I spent a good deal of time searching out how to improve the appearance of cellulite. The treatments I tried were free, I was badgered to try them by well-meaning public-relations people, and there was always a summer or a resort issue around the corner that needed body stories. Plus, there was my own cellulite, so eagerly awaiting the discovery of a magical formula to liberate it from its unstinting vigil. Even failing that, a few handy little tips on shaping, toning, and firming would have relieved both it and me. But unless I was to write about actual exercise (and that, I reasoned, was surely the health editor's beat), there was no secret solution to be found. Instead, I ended up writing about fake tanning a lot, and learned that if you want a toned body you have to tone your body. It's called getting to the gym. Last week I revised my opinion. I went to see Tracie Martyn, and instead of giving me a facial, which is what she is famous for, she showed me a new trick. She gave me what she calls a Resculpting Body Treatment, and what I call no mean feat.
There are several women in the beauty business who have become cult figures, experts who are relied on and trusted: It is their highlights, bath oil, lip gloss, and bikini waxes that have become the new templates for how we should like these things to be. Tracie Martyn, like Marcia Kilgore and Sharon Dorram, Sally Hershberger and Jeanine Lobell, has become a beauty guru, which is presumably how Estee Lauder and Helena Rubinstein began. Only, if anything, Martyn's clientele is more obsessive than most. Her face and body treatments are unique and take an hour at a time. Her beautifully decorated space in Greenwich Village has only two treatment rooms. If one of the pleasures of visiting Martyn is feeling that you are here only customer in the world, it's because at that moment, you are. Having an appointment with Martyn - just as it must have been with Kilgore, Jo Malone, and Eve Lom when they first began fiving facials - is akin to being part of an unofficial but very exclusive club. You smile when you pass one of Martyn's clients on your way in or out, and your smile is knowing: Ah, it says, you are privy to this, too; how clever, how inside it all we are (her clients, I rather fear, will not thank me for this article). When I went to see Martyn for my body treatment, I smiled at Meg Ryan, who was just leaving. When I emerged from Martyn's private room, Blaine Trump was waiting to take my place.
Martyn is the beauty expert's expert. How did Meg Ryan become a client? Sally Hershberger sent her. Who told Renee Zellweger? Her hair colorist, Sharon Dorram. "My clients are always asking for referrals," says Dorram. "And the one that I love to share most is Tracie Martyn. She is the easiest person to recommend because I know that people will come out transformed. I'm a total devotee, as are the clients I've sent her." So who are among the devoted? Susan Sarandon ("Tracie's treatment is one of the few things I know that make you beautiful both inside and out") Eva Herzigova is a longtime Martyn supporter - "the body treatments are amazing for tightening everything up before a show." Uma Thurman, Carey Lowell, Kevin Klein, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Lena Olin. Liv Tyler loves Martyn's treatments so much she's taken her dad there for a facial. Diane von Furstenberg, one of Martyn's earliest clients ("I really swear by Tracie"), wards off the idea of a face-lift, using regular Martyn facials instead.
Naomi Campbell is a fan, as are fellow models Natane Adcock, Anouck Lepere, Magali Amaei, and Waris Dirie. The modeling agency IMG makes bookings for its girls before the season's runway shows and swimwear shoots. Bridget Hall, who has been seeing Martyn for years, prefers to schedule a visit before a swimwear shoot. "The reason the models keep coming to have their faces and bodies done," Martyn explains, "is because they know they can rely on the treatment. It's a quick fix, and it works." Martyn shows me before and after Polaroids of a noticeably toned-up behind. "Look. That happened in just one treatment," she says as I marvel at the difference. "The woman in the pictures took one look at herself and said, 'Oh, my God, you've taken ten years off my behind,' That," says Martyn, "is when I knew that it really worked. Because that was when I was developing my technique and the way I could use the machine most effectively. I was still finding out what it was capable of."
The machine Martyn is talking about is really the star of this piece. She calls it the Resculptor, and it looks like the kind of magic electricity box you see in movies like The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein. The machine releases a mild electrical current. By applying it to the area of the body she has prepared (the treatment also involves massage, acupressure, and her own potent Firming Serum), Martyn prompts the muscles she is targeting to shorten. "The good thing about it," says Martyn, "is that once the muscle has been reminded to tighten up, it keeps doing it. It's like going to the gym, only I get to those areas - the jaw line, the upper, upper thigh - that you can't reach through exercise. And because it is so specific, the results are immediate. Plus, the area of your body where cellulite collects is probably the part of your body you like least. It gets neglected. If you stimulate your lymphatic system, which is what I am doing, you are not only draining that area of toxins but sending energy there. Your body will no longer automatically deposit its waste there; it learns that it's no longer a safe haven, and so reroutes it." The effects, in other words, are relatively long-lasting, particularly if you've had more than one treatment.
"When I went to see Tracie Martyn for my body treatment, I smiled at Meg Ryan, who was just leaving. When I emerged from the session, Blaine Trump was waiting to take my place"
Martyn discovered her Resculptor on a quest for the perfect facial. She was a successful makeup artist and had always been fascinated by the way makeup could add contours to the face, but she felt sure that there had to be a more permanent way to create a sculpted appearance. She learned about acupressure and aromatherapy, studied Thai massage, and also sent herself back to beauty school to get her aesthetician's license. Then, in England, she discovered an early version of the Resculptor. It was the machine's electric current and its two nodules that gave Martyn the oomph her fingertips lacked. Ten years later, Martyn owns the machine's patent, and it now bears her lotus-flower logo as its trademark. She has worked with the machine's manufacturer to develop more than 100 different settings so that she can adjust the current to suit each of her clients' needs.
The body treatments, for example, demand that the machine be geared to promote lymphatic drainage. Likewise, other settings change the current's frequency. As you might imagine, Martyn needs a stronger electric current if she is working on my inner thighs than if she is refining Michelle Pfeiffer's cheekbones. But still, current setting aside, what you are getting on your body- be it your thighs, upper arms, or stomach - is an incredible luxury: an already specialized facial customized to work on, say, your behind. And yet it doesn't feel sinful or inappropriate (the way spreading Creme de la Mer on your bottom surely would), because it works. Martyn, a tiny, porcelain blonde, sets to work briskly: She is not in the business of pampering (though certainly she leaves you feeling pampered). Instead, her craft is the alchemist's art: transformation.
So, this I can tell you: I have tried body-firming creams. I've taken cellulite-decreasing pills. I have been to several Endermologie sessions and would happily pay not to climb into that humiliating white bodysuit ever again. I would rather run up and down a flight of stairs if I have to boost my circulation than have my flesh jiggled about by an aggressive machine. I know that Martyn's Resculpting Body Treatment works - not, actually, because of what she told me (it all makes perfect sense, but can you see the results in a swimsuit?) and not because she made me stand in profile in front of the mirror for a before and after examination. (Yes, excruciating as I found having to peer at l'area cellulite, my sensitive area did look noticeably better and lesser during the after session, but then it wouldn't be the first time my eyes have deceived me about my body.) No, the thing that really cheered me was this: The morning after I saw Martyn, I reached, not thinking, for a pair of rather too-snug pants I had worn two days before. They wafted on.
For an appointment, please call Tracie Martyn,
(212) 206-9333, starting at $325 per hour.
"The Body Treatments are amazing for tightening everything up before a show"
- Eva Herzigova
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Keywords: cellulite relief, facial, face treatment, body treatment, Resculpting facial, Firming Serum, beauty guru, Meg Ryan, Blaine Trump, Diane von Furstenberg, Liv Tyler, Eva Herzigova, Naomi Campbell, Natane Adcock, Anouck Lepere, Magali Amaei, Waris Dirie, Michelle Pfeiffer, Bridget Hall, Susan Sarandon