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TOP FLIGHT:

how to take
years off
your face

Want to look younger sans chemicals or surgery? Watch Koh Gen Do’s master esthetican demo her signature facial massage.

Written By JAYME CYK

When one learns that Megumi Setoguchi is 45 years old, the only appropriate response is disbelief. Because the Brand Director of Koh Gen Do has the skin of someone 20 years her junior; it’s not an illusion, the esthetician is a walking filter. And yes, she was blessed with Japanese genes, but Setoguchi credits the art of facial massage—which she practices for one minute and 30 seconds daily—for keeping her skin taut and making it the envy of everyone who meets the soft-spoken expert.  

Earlier this year, Koh Gen Do brought me to its hometown of Tokyo to learn more about the brand’s rich history. It was founded in 1986 by Ai Saotome, a Japanese actress whose skin was suffering from heavy makeup and hours underneath heavy set lighting. So when she couldn’t find a solution to soothe and protect her complexion, she created her own botanical-based collection with the goal of delivering a healthy, radiant glow.

Fast forward to 1993, when Setoguchi, Saotome’s younger sister, took the reigns at Koh Gen Do and designed a massage method to lift and relax your facial muscles. “Everyday I massage and soften the forehead muscles first,” says Setoguchi. “By doing that, the wrinkles around your eyes start to lift.” The technique is centered around applying pressure with the fattest part of your palm. “Skin can handle generalized pressure,” she explains, “but it can’t handle drag.”

So what’s it like getting a facial from the master? Surprisingly low-tech. When you walk into her studio at Koh Gen Do’s flagship in Azabujuban, there is only a bed and a steamer. There is no microcurrent device, no dermaroller, nor an LED light. The entire facial is based on Setoguchi’s ritualistic skin care regimen and massage technique. To put it lightly, her hands were magic. Not only did it feel incredible, but I left the facial poreless—and with higher cheekbones.

See below for step-by-step instructions on how to replicate Setoguchi’s work on your own face for a sculpted, glowing complexion.


treat yourself
to a facial

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Using a gentle, circular motion, apply a cream cleanser. You have 20,000 pores on your face so make sure to work in the product in all directions. “This really softens the skins,” say Setoguchi. “All of the deep embedded grime in the pores starts coming out.”

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While massaging this lightweight gommage into skin, small rubbery pieces will start to form—they’re removing and dissolving dead skin to reveal a brighter complexion.

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Pat an essence into skin to draw moisture into the complexion. “An essence creates a pathway so your other products penetrate deeper,” notes Setoguchi. Think of it like a drink of water for the face.

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This hydrating liquid is infused with a potent blend of 36 plant extracts to improve elasticity, tone, and texture. Use with the Utowa Unbleached Cotton and saturate each square to create a DIY face mask.

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Use this milky moisturizer all over the face for a soft, satiny finish. It restores moisture levels and revitalizes your complexion.

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Once you’ve applied your moisturizer, pat approximately three drops of the T3 Oil into the face. Then begin Setoguchi’s massage technique—start on the forehead, then move to the temples, under the cheekbones, aroundthe jawline, over the nasolabial folds and down the neck.