A facelift may not be the obvious choice of cosmetic treatment for a 31-year-old. You would surely have to be neurotic to want one this early in life (or, some would argue, ever). But Barbara Harvey, a kinesiologist, claims that her very own "Harvey method top health face lift" will benefit anybody, regardless of age. As she puts it: "We could all do with a bit of a lift." The good news is that her technique does not involve scalpels, sutures or swabs, it does not take place in an operating theatre, and there is no recovery time. However, the results are - perhaps inevitably - subtle.
Harvey's technique grew out of her training in "rejuvenescence" - a light facial massage technique. Her method is, she claims, wholly original: a combination of deep tissue massage, acupressure, kinesiology and reiki that will release the tension in my face and "allow it to lift naturally". It can have "amazing" results on specific skin problems, such as acne, but, she adds, "it's particularly good if you just want to look fantastic for a hot date".
Since my only hot dates these days seem to take place at 3am with a sleepless baby, my face could certainly do with a boost. She begins, unexpectedly, by wiggling my arm around while muttering to herself in low tones. This is kinesiology, she explains: she is asking my face which creams it would like to be rubbed with. I am delighted to find that my face has chosen Neal's Yard frankincense cream.
She then starts to rub this firmly into my jaw - "the strongest muscle in the body". The pummelling sensation is mildly alarming. For what seems like hours, she sweeps knuckles over and around my cheekbones and massages my forehead, nose and even my ear lobes. "You have a lot of tension in your chin," she comments, wobbling it rapidly round and round. Finally she lifts my eyebrows towards my hairline and holds them there in an exaggerated expression of surprise.
Apparently, while she's rubbing deep into my facial ligaments, Harvey is also doing things with "chakras", "auras" and "devas". What's more, she believes that different parts of the face correspond to bodily organs, just as reflexology links each part of the body back to a point on the foot. So when my hungry stomach gurgles she makes an affirmative noise and remarks that my guts are releasing tension - not a relaxing notion.
It doesn't matter, though, if you're a sceptic about kinesiology or reiki or other such therapies. While she is busy stroking auras and channelling chakras, Harvey works in silent concentration. When it's over, I approach the mirror, fearing a blotchy and streaked result. My face feels tingly. My crow's-feet stare defiantly back at me - no surprises there - but my cheeks glow and my eyes shine. I look like I've just come in from a bracing seaside walk.
Harvey claims that this result can last a few weeks if you eat properly, exercise and drink lots of water. But I expect I'd look considerably better if I did this anyway, facelift or no facelift. Ominously, she warns that a row with my husband, a couple of pints of beer or a stressful journey home could entirely undo her good work.
By the time I've inhaled rush-hour fumes on Hyde Park Corner, avoided brawling men on a crowded tube and endured a two-hour delay to my train, I assume that my youthful bloom will have vanished. "Red" is the word my husband chooses to describe the new me. Miraculously, I avoid a row, but I end the day with a pizza and a beer. The next morning, my skin still looks mildly glowing, though I wouldn't use the word rejuvenated. Another day, though, and Harvey's warning proves right: it's all over.
Compared to the surgical full monty, "facelift" is perhaps a misnomer for this treatment. And at £55 it's a fairly pricey facial - but certainly an excellent one. Harvey recommends a course of eight sessions if you want to see lasting results. Who knows, all those chakras and devas may just work wonders.
Phone Barbara Harvey on 0181 785 6278. She will be running courses with Neal's Yard remedies in the New Year