Facial fitness guru Eva Fraser is a legend to her many followers the world over. Now 71, her wonderful moulded cheekbones and taut chin line look decades younger due, she swears, to ten minutes every other day wiggling the facial muscles.
It all started, she chuckles, when she was a tapestry conservationist, worried about being and looking 50. ‘I was at a reception in Germany and met this extraordinary woman called Eva Hoffman. She was 76, forthright and rather frightening, but she looked incredible. She told me she had been a ballet dancer and had noticed how all dancers had gorgeous bodies but terrible faces. Her then gentleman-friend was a doctor and he said there must be a way to keep the muscles of the face a fit as those of the body. So they worked on it and came up with this programme.’
But it wasn’t as simple as that. Eva Hoffman had retired at 70 and refused to give another lesson. ‘She had toured the world giving one-to-one lessons and made a fortune, particularly from the Arabs. At one place she had taught 30 wives over six months. They had paid her in gold – enough to keep her comfortable for the rest of her life.’
But Eva Fraser was determined ‘I went on and on at her. “I’m 50,” I said, “and I’m desperate.” It was so odd – we were both Evas and both born on Christmas Eve. Finally she said she would give me just one lesson. At the end of that, she said, “You will make a very good teacher, I will come to London and train you.” In fact she stayed a year because she enjoyed it so much.”
There remained the small question of getting her methods known to the public. Magazines and newspapers laughed in her face until one journalist, Amanda Cochrane, the beauty editor of Harpers & Queen, took an interest. ‘She was so excited she rang the magazine and said they had to pull another feature – this was important.’
Amanda had understood that, although we spend billions on miracle creams, it’s not your skin which keeps your face from sagging and bagging. ‘You must build the muscles,’ explains Eva. ‘They’re the foundation. Everyone knows about muscles from the neck down but when it comes to your face, they just think a pot of cream will do it.
‘Well, I love make-up and I think it does help to keep you looking younger. And cleansing is very important, particularly using water. But I don’t like night creams very much – women don’t really need as much as they use. You need to get the foundations right, then you can paint the house.’
Four sessions, plus daily practice, with a break of two or more weeks in between each session is all it takes. Eva and her staff are totally discreet but I know women who say the effect is better than a facelift.
Eva, who doesn’t eat any meat apart from fish, is also adamant about fun, weekly walks and daily stretches, fresh food and taking nutritional supplements, particularly iron. ‘If you’re feeling low, it’s nearly always being short of iron – it’s the mineral of courage.’
Talking health with Sarah Stacey, January 2000