I t’s fair to say that Nichola Joss is one of the beauty industry’s best-known facialists and spray tanners, and rightly so. Not only does she have a black book of celebrity clients including A-list actresses Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank and Gwyneth Paltrow, but she’s known for having a really deep understanding of facial anatomy.
This is evident in her famous Sculpting Inner Facial – where Joss massages from inside the mouth to work the deeper facial muscles. Basically, this woman knows her stuff and has legions of fans because of it – she has 42,000 followers on Instagram alone.
However, even Joss has felt the financial strains of coronavirus and is now working harder than ever to try to get her business back to normal. “I went back to clinic in early September and it’s been a little bit slow, but I think that’s because a lot of my clients aren’t back in London yet and many are still working from home,” says Joss.
“I don’t think clients are fearful of coming back to the clinic environment, because they know it’s super clean; I just think people are slowly easing themselves back into some form of normality. Currently, I have bookings all the way through to December, so business is picking up and I’m so grateful for that.”
Despite it being a challenging time for the beauty industry, Joss is hopeful that the sector will bounce back because the people who work within it are so resilient and clients are really showing their support; for example, by booking back-to-back appointments.
Above: Joss when she was global ambassador for Sanctuary Spa; below: working as a global ambassador for tanning brand St.Tropez at the Julien Macdonald SS15 LFW show
“Coronavirus has been hugely damaging for our industry and I have a lot of friends who have had to close their salon doors. I mean, I don’t know if I’ll be able to maintain my current space [in London] and I haven’t been to my residency space in New York since December, and that’s really struggling, so we will just have to see how things go.
“However, I’m an optimist. We’re a service industry full of creative workers and our thought process is always about serving our customers, and that valiance will see us through. So, if we need to change our current offering or working hours or become more fluid about doing at-home appointments, the beauty industry is pretty good at shaking it up and forging forward.” It’s also important to unite as a body of professionals and support one another during this unprecedented time, as Joss explains: “I specialise in facial massage but I’m always sending clients to other specialists in the industry I know for waxing, nails and other treatments. Clients will trust our recommendations and it’s another way we can really help one another during this time.”
'' We’re an industry full of creative workers and our thought process is always about serving our customers, and that valiance will see us through ''
And it’s this openness to knowledge sharing that has Joss working towards the goal of launching a training school for beauty professionals in the future – hopefully next year.
Joss will teach therapists everything they need to know about delivering an effective facial massage, from how to be intuitive with their hands to fully understanding the facial muscle structure.
'' Massage is one of the least looked-at parts of training, and the movements taught in college haven’t changed much in the past 50 years ''
“Massage is one of the least looked-at parts of training, and the movements taught in college are a bit old-fashioned and haven’t changed much in the past 50 years. I have six therapists who work in my London space and each of them I’ve had to retrain on massage. It’s not a lack of education or understanding, it’s just down to not being given the right knowledge.”
Joss has studied biology and has used this knowledge to create a handbook for her team about the facial muscle structure, explaining how each muscle works together and how, when massaging the face, you’re dealing with the whole body. This handbook includes detailed diagrams and is followed with extensive hands-on training.
“Everybody’s face is different, and every client will have different tension points, so it’s about learning where your hands should be going rather than going into autopilot and using the kind of factory instructions of, ‘OK, six times this way and then four times round here’,” explains Joss. “It’s about looking at the structure of the client’s face, understanding their lifestyle, home and work environment, and going from there.
She adds: “For example, emotional stress sits in the chin area, deep within the muscle tissue, so if your client is experiencing anxiety or fear then the emotional vibration will be held there. Meanwhile, work tensions are held along the jawline and cheek area, as well as the forehead. “
To release this stress, it’s all about working the lymphatic system and really getting the lymphs opened up. “The main lymph terminals are in the neck and then you work your way up to the hair line.
“Also, always work from the centre of the face outwards and upwards, working deeply along the bone contours where those heavy muscles are. Never ever drag down,” she explains.
This leads us on to a discussion about education on a much larger scale and changes that Joss believes needs to be made to the beauty curriculum.
“There needs to be a far grander curriculum that includes a deep module on the biology of the body and the facial muscles so that up-and-coming therapists understand the importance of how we’re going deeper into the system of the body. Almost like doing an A-Level in biology and then shining a spotlight on the facial muscle structure after that,” she says.
The future of beauty
Joss gives me an example of how she feels a lack of in-depth knowledge taught at colleges at the moment is having a knock-on effect for the salon environment. “I find that some of the therapists that come out of college are a little bit fearful of using any pressure when performing a facial massage and this can upset or annoy the client who wants results,” she says.
“They’ll rush to get this part of the facial done when actually it’s one of the most important elements. They need to be taught how to command their authority and understand where to apply pressure, as well as when not to. Muscles like to have a decent amount of pressure applied because it releases tension, stress and congestion, as well as any underlying toxins in the muscle tissue.”
Above left: At the Shen London X Nichola Joss event; right: with Augustinus Bader for Victoria Beckham’s AW19 London Fashion Week show
This ties in with Joss’s belief that beauty will been seen as a core part of the wellness industry in the future in the way that people optimise their internal health – “so, it will be part of how people keep well as opposed to waiting until they’re not very well to seek help and advice,” she says.
“We’re going to become a core part of clients’ mission to maintain good health, but what’s lacking in our industry is therapists getting better knowledge on how to achieve that. For example, knowing the best high-alkaline diets to recommend or more beneficial vitamins. It’s important that we all upskill ourselves with this knowledge.”
The future has also got a lot in store for the popular facialist, including a residency at the W Hotel in Doha in March 2021, a partnership with the Mandarin Oriental in London and an introduction of a new laser treatment in clinic. It’s fair to say that Joss will keep delivering new and interesting things to the market. PB
1989 Gains Cidesco and Cibtac qualifications in beauty therapy
1990 Joss works as a freelance therapist, building up her reputation
1994 Establishes the Nichola Joss Clinics and develops her Bespoke Inner Sculpting Facial
1995 Joins Premier Hair and Make-up Agency, working on editorial and commercial advertising campaigns, film sets and red carpets, including the Golden Globes
2005 Joins tanning company St.Tropez as a global brand ambassador
2009 Becomes skincare specialist and global ambassador for Sanctuary Spa
2016 Opens global residencies at Lac beauty in Toronto, Serge Normant at John Frieda in New York and Lefay Resort in Italy
2019 Joss collaborates with Get Harley on its skincare concierge service and becomes a Lyma product consultant