Despite the fact that I’ve been a beauty journalist for a going on a good seven years now, I can count on both hands the number of facials I’ve had in that time. Give me a thorough rub down or hoove shaving pedi any day, but thus far I’ve either found facials far too ‘blah’, significantly uncomfortable (just the thought of extractions make me shudder) or a full-on facial disaster zone (like that time I got signed off of work for two weeks with dermatitis from forehead to nips – true story).
As such, when facial invites come along as they often do in my particularly privileged line of work, I generally pass them up for fear of ending up nonplussed or alternatively at the GP. This year, however, something changed. I’m getting married, as I keep honking on about, and apparently setting some kind of face maintenance in motion is the done thing. “If there’s a time to invest, it’s now” etc etc. As such, I faced the music with a treatment that my eczema prone sister recommended, and it’s proved to be a game/ face changer. Dear readers, if you’re yet to be acquainted, meet the Hydrafacial.
The Hydrafacial system is more well known in the US than the UK, but is becoming more widely available in clinics on this side of the pond, no doubt sought after due to the fact that it’s Beyoncé’s no-downtime pre-show facial of choice.
WHAT IS A HYDRAFACIAL?
In short, whatever you want it to be thanks to the fact that it’s customisable, but the basic formula involves lymphatic drainage massage, exfoliation by way of glycolic or salicylic acid solution (or whatever exfoliating acid suits you best), extraction via a very satisfying sucky device (technical term), more often than not a blast of LED light to nix bacteria and boost collagen production and finally a serum ‘infusion’ to leave skin soft and smooth. To clarify, here’s what a Hydrafacial generally involves in four steps:
1. Cleanse and exfoliation. As I’ve got a problematic relationship with glycolic acid (see dermatitis above), my aesthetic specialist opted to use salicylic acid peel to clarify pores and generally loosen crud.
2. Extraction. If you’re used to a facialists really putting the boot in in an effort to rid your schnoz of blackheads, the Hydrafacial will be a sweet, if freaky, relief. This is where the sucky part comes in – a vortex extraction nozzle is moved lightly around your face (a process dubbed ‘hydradermabrasion’), with a particular focus on congested areas, and gets to work to painlessly lift away impurities. My aesthetician was very polite and discreet, but some will show you the vial of gunk that’s produced during this process if you ask. If you’re the type of person who loves pimple popping and general grime, this step will prove especially satisfying.
3. Hydration. The vortex fusion technology returns but this time to put stuff back into your skin, namely moisture-binding hyaluronic acid plus peptides and antioxidants via a potent but non-stimulating serum. Serums can be tailored to your skin type and individual requirements and ‘boosters’ can be added in if you’re in real need of TLC – think a blast of vitamin C to address dullness.
5. Lymphatic drainage massage. This boosts circulation and blood flow to the skin, bringing nutrients and oxygen to the skin’s surface while reducing puffiness and water retention. Where this sits in the Hydrafacial routine can vary – at Epilium & Skin it was midway through an hour long treatment.
4. Rejuvenation. Red and infrared LED comes to the fore to rev up collagen production while bringing down inflammation and even upping your natural vitamin D production. If you’re dealing with frequent breakouts, your therapist may opt for antibacterial blue light too to encourage the P.acnes bacteria to take a hike.