If there’s one positive thing to come out of working from home, it’s having more time for fancy self-care rituals. I’ve always dreamed of making these part of my regular routine—especially in the morning before I start my day—and now that I have some extra time on my hands, I’m using it to test out all of the beauty tools I might not have been able to use regularly before.
I finally got my hands on Jillian Dempsey’s Gold Sculpting Bar, the makeup artist and entrepreneur’s first foray into beauty tech as part of her eponymous clean cosmetics brand. This facial massager promises to lift and sculpt, reduce puffiness, and provide an overall revitalized complexion, so I took it for a spin over the course of 18 days, giving myself an almost-daily 15-minute facial massage. I was hoping to combat my morning skin woes and maybe make myself look more awake than I actually was.
Did I suddenly have perfectly sculpted cheekbones and a killer jawline without a hint of puffiness? Find out below.
BEST FOR: All skin types
USES: Stimulates blood flow, aids in lymphatic drainage, and relaxes facial muscles for more sculpted-looking cheekbones, jawline, and chin and a reduced appearance of tech lines on the neck; lifts, de-puffs, and contours the complexion for a more awake and refined appearance
BEST FEATURES: Vibrates with 6,000 rotational pulses which help stimulate blood flow.
ABOUT THE BRAND: In 2015, renowned celebrity makeup artist Jillian Dempsey launched her own eponymous line of clean cosmetics, including an array of glossy lid tints, cheek tints, and kohl eyeliner. In 2018, she added her first beauty tool to the roster: the Gold Sculpting Bar.
About My Skin: Perpetually puffy
Let’s just say I’m not a morning person—and it’s a trait of mine that noticeably shows through my skin. I believe in the power of beauty sleep, but I usually struggle to get a full night’s rest that allows me to wake up feeling restored and revived. (I blame my dear old friend anxiety for that.) Most mornings, I wake up groggy and look as tired as I feel, dark circles and puffy under-eyes being my most defining feature.
I’ve managed to keep my dark circles under control with vitamin C serums (such as BeautyStat’s Universal C Eye Perfector), but for puffiness? I still haven’t found my hero product, though I’ve had some pretty positive results with crystal facial rollers and gua sha tools. I’ve been using a jade roller under my eyes on extra puffy days for years, and while the results aren’t profound, it definitely helps me look more alert and awake and ever so slightly de-puffed. I also love gua sha for lymphatic drainage around my cheeks and jawline—especially if I’ve had one too many drinks the night before. While I don’t think it transforms my face in a way that fakes flawless bone structure, it does help combat puffiness and is, of course, super soothing and relaxing to use.
I was excited to try out this fancy, vibrating T-shaped massage bar and see if it provided better results than my crystal tools. The brand recommends using this tool every day (or every other day) to a clean face after applying a facial moisturizer. Since my skin usually needs some help in the morning, I used mine early in the day. I tried it in combination with my new favorite facial oil, Augustinus Bader’s The Face Oil, as the last step of my skin-care routine. The full facial massage takes about 15 minutes—I tried to use it almost every day over the course of my two-and-a-half-week testing period, but some mornings I just didn’t have the time.
Design: Sleek and minimal
Design-wise, this product is as beautiful as it is functional. It’s small, light, and comfortable to hold while I glide it across my cheekbones, jawline, and neck. The T-bar massage head and rounded opposite end are coated in 24-karat gold, giving this tool a super luxe look and feel.
The twistable, on-off function makes it very easy to use and its small size and portability make it the perfect travel companion (an ideal pick-me-up after a long flight or drive). The directions state that its single AA battery should last approximately three months when used three minutes per day, so keep in mind that if you’re using every day (or even every other day) for the full 15 minutes, you can expect it to need a new battery much more frequently.
Overall, the tool is sleek and pretty, so it earned itself a front and center display on my vanity.
How To Use: Use the T-shaped head to massage in the desired direction
Starting with clean, dry, and makeup-free skin, apply your favorite moisturizer all over your face and neck. Twist on the device and begin the massage, working on one section of the face at a time.
For the cheekbones, gently push the bar upwards from jawline to cheek, towards the temples, repeating this motion for five minutes before moving on to the other side. To sculpt the jawline and chin, push the bar in from the jawline towards the neck and down under the chin, repeating for five minutes. For tech lines (the pesky necklines we’ve developed thanks to constantly looking down at our phones), you can use two fingers to gently stretch the skin on either side of the line, gliding the bar up and down over the ones to reduce the appearance and prevent future visibility. You can watch tutorials on how to use this tool for each part of the face here.
While this wasn’t necessarily mentioned in the directions, I found that gently running the bar over my under-eye area (again, after applying a moisturizer or oil of some sort) from the inner corner outwards, helped slightly in reducing the puffiness of my eye area.
The Science: Boosts blood flow and lymphatic drainage
There are a number of different types of facial tools out there, but they all work towards the same goal: to decrease puffiness and create an instant lifting and sculpting effect—but how? “Some tools stimulate lymphatic drainage and blood flow to carve out your jawline and cheekbones with massage, vibration, suction, or cold, while others use electric current to tone muscles and stimulate collagen,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jessie Cheung of Cheung Aesthetics and Wellness in Chicago. Through these methods, she explains, these tools will de-puff by mobilizing blood flow and the lymphatic system, so you can “defy gravity, shift collections of fluid, and help with toxin release.”
Speaking specifically to The Gold Bar and its vibrating technology, is it more beneficial than a classic (and typically less pricey) massage tool, jade roller, or gua sha? As Cheung explains, it isn’t necessarily more effective but makes the entire process easier and quicker. “These tools take some of the guesswork away from you and may speed up your treatment,” she says, “but you still have to take the time to move the tech tools around your face. But, if the investment compels you to use your tool more regularly, then go for it.”
While these products serve as a temporary fix, giving the face a more defined appearance for up to a day, they do offer some long-term benefits. “The sculpting results are temporary, but since there is enhanced collagen production and skincare absorption, there are long-term benefits to your skin,” says Cheung. So, expect your favorite products to feel a bit more potent and to reap some subtle anti-aging benefits.
The Results: Instantly looked more awake and radiant
The first morning I tested the Gold Sculpting Bar out, I was especially tired—and I looked it. After using the tool on my cheekbones, jawline, chin, and neck, I used it to de-puff my under-eye zone, gently gliding the tool from the inner corner of my eye to the outer corner. While the improvements in my under-eye zone were subtle, my cheeks and the area under my chin were more taught, and any puffiness in my lower cheeks had been pushed upwards to make my cheekbones more prominent.
Even for a change so slight—it wasn’t a massive transformation by any means—I just looked better, much more lively and radiant. My skin also glowed a bit more, too, thanks to increased blood flow.
This tool is really only meant to deliver temporary results, which did last me for a full day, but as Dr. Cheung explains, the vibration and massage can aid in collagen production and product absorption, which have long-term benefits. I can’t say I noticed any change in my skin over the course of two and a half weeks, but it’s definitely great for an instant boost. The only area I didn’t notice much change in was my neck; I just couldn’t seem to fade tech lines no matter how long I used the tool.
Visible results aside, it’s a nice habit to start your day by taking 15 minutes to pamper yourself. The massage is super relaxing and simple enough, making it an easy way to add a little more self-care into my daily routine. Plus, it’s excellent for hangovers.
The Value: A great product, but overpriced
I like this tool—I really do—but at $195, I think it’s overpriced for what it is. After doing a bit of digging through customer reviews, I read quite a few that stated similar, cheaper products worked just as well—and I found practically identical products for sale for as little as $30 and under. Some reviews noted that Jillian Dempsey’s 24k gold-plated version didn’t rust while its much cheaper counterparts don’t hold up over time, but I still find it hard to justify spending almost $200 on this product.
Similar Products: Less expensive alternatives
Skin Gym Beauty Lifter Vibrating T-Bar ($58): For about a third of the price, the facial tool brand Skin Gym offers a practically identical product. Its Beauty Lifter Vibrating T-Bar is meant to have the exact same effects as the Gold Sculpting Bar, lifting and sculpting the face with its T-bar massager while using vibration technology to increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage. It even looks exactly the same. The only difference is that Skin Gym’s tool isn’t coated in 24-karat gold, though it’s hard to know if this would make much of a difference in terms of efficacy and if it’s worth the steep price increase. If you’re new to skin tech and are looking to try out daily face sculpting massages for yourself, I think Skin Gym’s version is a much better choice.
Herbivore Jade De-Puffing Face Roller ($30): You can’t go wrong with a classic jade roller, and the one I’ve been using for years is Herbivore’s Jade De-Puffing Facial Roller. Not only is facial rolling incredibly relaxing and de-stressing, but it supports lymphatic drainage to reduce the appearance of puffiness and wrinkles. Puffiness aside, it doesn’t offer much in terms of sculpting benefits, nor does it use vibration technology, but for $30, it’s a solid option for tired eyes.
I really liked Jillian Dempsey’s Gold Sculpting Bar for waking up my skin and making my face look more defined, and I’m planning to continue using it at least a few times a week. Not only did it help with puffiness, but gave me an overall firmer, more glowing appearance. However, I do think less expensive tools would work just as well.