I tried the Game of Thrones facial | It’s weird but it works
Yes, it really does make your veins glow red under your skin.
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I got the chance to try the infamous Game of Thrones facial and I can tell you it was a highly unusual experience. Hinging on a concrete-like mask that makes your veins pop out, it's a treatment no one will forget once they've tried it.
What is it and why is it called the Game of Thrones facial?
The Game of Thrones facial is an enzyme therapy facial developed and created by skincare company DMK. Founded by Danné Montague-King, he created the brand off the back of his pursuit to cure his own acne. Today DMK is a company offering facials and skincare products all designed to treat and perfect your skin. A DMK facial is a different experience to any other facial. It's not designed to be relaxing or calming (although it definitely is in some parts): the facials are created to treat common skin concerns. This is where you come to fix your skin, not for a weekend pamper session.
So, why is DMK's signature treatment , the famous DMK Enzyme Therapy facial, called the Game of Thrones facial? This is one of the first questions I asked my therapist Leanne. Apparently the mask applied at the end of the facial dries, hardens and cracks – and it makes you look a bit like a fearsome White Walker from beyond the Wall. This is the key part of the treatment and is responsible for all the amazing skincare claims.
What is it supposed to do?
The DMK Enzyme Therapy facial claims to restore "skin to its peak condition". My therapist told me that this facial can be used to treat a number of different conditions from oily teenage skin, to ageing skin, to hyper-pigmentation and congestion and texture issues too. And it does this by exercising muscles in the face and strengthening the structure of your skin in order to create a healthy environment for your cells. Because healthy cells equals healthy skin.
The way the enzyme treatment works is best explained by the description provided on the website:
"Enzymes are living substances that regulate health and work with certain minerals in the body to form a natural system of antioxidants that fight corrosive free radicals. Properly formulated, they can remove dead protein, toxins and other effluvia from the epidermis using a process called 'reverse osmosis'."
What's it like?
I'm a bit of a facial junkie. I love them. I've tried just about every well-known spa in the Sydney CBD including Chi at the Shagri-La, Varda Spa and The Day Spa by Chuan at The Langham. But this treatment was quite unlike anything I'd previously tried.
For me there are two categories of facial: the relaxing and calming kind that you might have on a holiday and the corrective kind that you might see a dermatologist for. This treatment seemed to straddle both categories. It was certainly relaxing in parts but uncomfortably perfunctory in others.
Just like many other treatments, it began in the usual way. You fill out a form, then lie on the treatment table and receive a skin assessment. But the skin assessment went deeper than I was used to. Instead of the shallow assessment of "good" that I'm used to, Leanne told me that I have oily skin that I've managed to balance well. But due to the lack of water around my forehead, I was suffering some minor congestion issues. I was immediately struck by how insightful the feedback was.
Leanne then began to explain the treatment I was about to have; how it all hinges on a specialised mask that tightens and makes your skin pulse. This causes something DMK has called a "plasmatic response" – where your veins become visible beneath your skin. Apparently the intensity of the plasmastic response is an indication of how healthy your skin is, although we should note that the darker your skin, the less visible the plasmatic reaction will be.
Prior to the mask, there were the standard cleanse and nourish steps that come with most facials. But then came the mask. It has to be mixed on the spot so the active ingredients stay active. I thought it smelt a bit like uncooked meringue and I was told shortly after by Leanne that it does indeed contain egg white. The thick, smooth mixture is applied all over your face and then little sensors that emit small amounts of electricity are placed on your chest, arms and legs. Don't worry, you can't feel anything even close to an electric shock. The sensors just felt a bit cold.
And then we have to play the waiting game: that is, waiting for the mask to harden, crust and crack. The first few minutes are pleasant – in fact I fell asleep. But after about 15 or so minutes, you start to feel the mask tighten and pull at your skin. I wouldn't call the feeling unpleasant, but it's certainly not relaxing. This tightening continued until I felt the pulsing – as promised. It was deep and intense. You can see a time-lapse of my mask experience above.
Finally as the mask began to crack, it was time to take it off. Even though it had hardened to the consistency of concrete, it was broken down and easily wiped away with water. The facial ended with Leanne applying some targeted serums to suit my skin – melanin inhibitors she called them. Apparently they're designed to prevent more hyper-pigmentation from occurring.
What's the verdict?
Even after one facial, I saw immediate results. Like many people with darker skin, I'm prone to hyper-pigmentation. My forehead, chin and nose are darker than my cheeks. While the facial didn't fix my pigmentation issues in one go, what it did do is make the difference less pronounced. My cheeks looked warmer and a lot less dull and darker parts of my face seemed to blend into the rest, rather than stand out. And instead of my skin looking patchy, it just looked sun-kissed. The darker bits were still darker, but in a way that looked a lot more subtle.
You can see the difference in the pictures. Although my skin initially looked a little more blemished (because the treatment pulls all trapped dirt to the surface of your skin so it can clear easily), it was less yellow and a lot more "alive". My skin looked a lot more healthy. It was that kind of healthy look you see on people who get great sleep, go to the gym every morning and drink tons of water. Which is not me, unfortunately.
The other key result that was immediately noticeable was the tighter pores. The pores across my cheeks, while not huge, aren't as small as I'd like. This facial truly tightened them up and gave my skin a lovely glassy appearance. I noticed that the effect lasted about a week – but after that, the size of my pores became noticeable again.
And yes, I did see a plasmatic response. Mine lasted about 20 minutes and was reasonably pronounced for someone with my medium-dark skin.
I can sincerely say the the facial does indeed work, and I am prepared to bend the knee to its rejuvenating powers . If you have a skin condition that you're looking to have managed and treated, this could be a great solution for you. Or if you're just looking to get your skin fresh, healthy and glowing, it would certainly be worth a try. It's definitely one of the oddest facials I've ever tried but it's worth the experience.
The Game of Thrones facial costs $180-$200 per treatment. The price varies because (outside of the actual enzyme mask) the products used are customised to your skin condition. Treatments are available at DMK clinics.
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