Clémence von Mueffling, the Paris-born editor of Beauty and Well Being, remembers the first time she heard about Martine de Richeville. “I was told she had ‘magic’ hands and could help with cellulite and heavy legs,” von Mueffling says of the French therapist with a discreet fashion-crowd following. “At the time, her name was like a secret that only a very good friend would give you.” De Richeville specializes in rémodelage, a technique that involves pinching and kneading to break up fat deposits and flush toxins through lymphatic drainage. (“It definitely feels a little painful,” von Mueffling concedes). With regular sessions, devotees notice a slimmer, tighter silhouette. Or as von Mueffling explains, “it’s as if she puts your body in ‘restart’ mode.”
While this sounds like the stuff of French myth, the results are actually quite real. The New York-based dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur says that manual remodeling delivers “a major circulation boost,” adding that de Richeville’s combination of massage and acupressure can “improve oxygenation, reduce pain, relax muscles and possibly allow for better realignment and rejuvenation of the body.” In fact, Dr. Marmur describes the method as similar to one physical therapists use to help speed healing and increase tone. Patients, she says, “rave about it.”
With all the growing enthusiasm, it’s no surprise that the secret about de Richeville is out — the veteran practitioner now flies from Paris to New York City every few months to perform her signature treatment at a newly opened space within Saks Downtown. In between visits, clients can see Fatima Zegrani, her trained therapist. But for those who live outside the areas de Richeville services, there are a growing number of at-home body-contouring devices hitting the market.
The Fascia Blaster ($89), for example, is a self-treatment tool first developed for professional athletes that’s now being embraced by wellness enthusiasts. The baton-like stick is covered with nubs or claws that, when rolled over your body, help loosen the fascia — the connective tissue around muscles and organs — to ease stiffness and, as an added bonus, dimpling of the skin that can lead to cellulite. Or consider the NuBody ($399, out in January), a spinoff of the popular NuFace micro-current device with spheres that emit low-level, painless currents to lift and firm multiple zones — currently it’s cleared by the F.D.A. to treat the arms, abs, thighs and buttocks.
Could such futuristic innovations be reason enough to skip the gym? Dr. Marmur says both of the aforementioned tools can lead to an overall sleeker appearance — but the effects might be short term. If you want a more low-fi method, try dry brushing, which involves taking a long-handled brush and sweeping it over your (dry, not damp) body, working upward from your feet to your shoulders with large strokes. The Organic Pharmacy’s Skin Brush ($15) has natural bristles that are firm, but not too firm, for the job. Afterward, shower and apply a hydrating cream, like Aesop’s Geranium Leaf Body Balm ($35). With regular sessions, dry brushing can help stimulate blood flow, soften dry patches and superficially treat pesky trouble spots. “You’d be surprised how many patients complain about the saggy, crinkled skin of their thighs, knees and inner elbows,” remarks Dr. Marmur. “Dry brushing plus an incredibly good moisturizer will help.” Consider that a secret worth sharing — or not.