If you've stumbled across the Holy Grail of skincare then it's kind of your duty to share, says Imogen Edwards-Jones. What is Profhilo? You've come to the right place...
This never happens to me. No, really, hand on heart, not actually… ever.
Mainly because I have a face like Bagpuss after a night out on the Rothmans and Mescal, but I can swear, honestly, I have never been pulled aside by a breathless friend and asked what my ‘secret’ was.
However, 46 minutes ago precisely, today, that’s exactly what took place.
I was dropping off my son for the final ‘playdate’ of the hideous, endless, thankless Christmas season, counting the hours before I could go back to bed and forget that I was not drinking alcohol, eating sugar or even letting a teeny tiny bit of carb past my miserable lips, when my friend, Belinda (not her real name) said something totally out of the blue.
"What’s happened to your skin?” she asked her head cocked to one side, as I stood on the threshold, the one shaft of January sunshine highlighting my moustache.
“My skin?” I was playing dumb.
“It looks all shiny and smooth and plump,” she added, managing to frown as she craned forward for a closer look (she clearly hadn’t updated her Botox over the Season).
I was tempted to lie, of course, and say it was the lack of booze (although I am not sure one night off really constitutes ‘dry January’) but I like Belinda (not her real name) she’s a good friend and I’m a Sister and if you’ve stumbled across the Holy Grail of skincare then it is kind of your duty, to the movement, to share.
“Oh this,” I said, patting my plump little cheek. “This is Profhilo.”
“Oh my God!” replied Belinda (not her real name). “I’m booked in to do that next week! Is it any good?”
Well, the long and short of it all is that Profhilo is not just good, it’s marvellous! And it is taking the beauty world by storm. Simply everyone is doing it, darling – even Belinda (not her real name) – next week. Frankly, it’s kicked bitchy old botulinum toxin into touch and it’s rapidly taking the fillers’ crown. It’s the ultimate pick-me-up-and-make-me-look-a-helluva-lot-better treatment for anyone over 30 who’s ever thought they need to go on holiday for a rest.
Except it’s better than looking well-rested. The result is a dewy, healthy, slightly plumper-looking glow that takes a good five years off your face.
Essentially a moisturiser that is administered subcutaneously in two different sessions a month apart, Profhilo is 100 per cent synthetic hyaluronic acid or HA (the stuff that is in any expensive skincare product), injected by a tiny needle into the face. It rehydrates and retextures crepey skin in a way that no topical lotion could ever do. It sits under the skin where over the next few days it spreads out to about a five-centimetre radius under each of the injection sites (five on each side of the face) nicely plumping everything out.
Launched by IBSA Pharma, one of the largest privately-owned pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland, Profhilo is so new that it has yet to cross the Pond, meaning that any US beauty junkie worth her silk sleep-mask has been hot-footing over here just to get her hands, neck, face or indeed apparently ‘mummy tummy’ injected with some.
And it’s not a weepingly painful process.
I had my first set of ten jabs at the beginning of November, with Dr Vicky Dondos at Medicetics in Connaught St, London W1 and my second set just before Christmas. You need two sessions, with a four-week gap so you don’t overload ( wo mls at a time is the most you can do) or irritate the skin but you get more of the effect with two. Some patients even opt for three sessions (as a loading dose) and then top twice or three times a year.
My skin felt plumper, tighter and developed a sheen as if I was wearing one of those slightly reflective foundations or a highlighter. Except I wasn’t
Profhilo is not the easiest of products to administer. Inject too deeply and the HA can’t get to the surface of the skin to do its job of smoothing and elasticating and inject too lightly and you end up with a face of acid-filled pimples that eventually fade into nothing.
So, as with all injectables , you should always go somewhere where they know what they are doing. Vicky Dondos, for example, is a trained medical doctor. She’s done her stint in A&E and knows where the muscles are and how they join the skull. She is not a beautician waving a needle, grabbing at your cheeks and pumping them with product. I also think you should look at the face of the person who is working on you. If they have lips like a sofa and forehead so frozen by years of wrinkle relaxing injections, and shiny and smooth like an ice-rink, then that’s what they’ll do to you.
I was a little nervous, as I lay back down in the white padded chair with Dondos approaching, needle in hand. Ten jabs in the face are quite something. But having been Botoxed, filled, rolled, lasared, peeled and pricked a few times before, the five injections in the upper cheekbone, the jawline, either side of the nose on both sides of the face were not that painful at all. The needle itself is fine; there is a slight stinging sensation as the liquid is pushed under the skin. You can have anaesthetic cream for those pinpricks (which I didn’t do) but there is not much to curb the stinging, save popping a valium. But honestly (and I’m a wimp) they were not too bad at all.
The Profhilo downtime? You are left with a load of small mosquito-like bumps where you have been injected for three to four hours after the procedure, as the acid has yet to disperse. It’s not really something that anyone else would notice. Unless they were one of those observant types – like your mother. On the other hand, it is not a treatment to do a few hours before getting married or walking a red carpet. Depending on what sort of skin you have you can still have a few bumps hanging around the following day.
And then… you have to wait. The first treatment can make a slight difference. You look a little perkier and I imagine if you were to do your hands, or your crêpey neck these might react a little sooner as they get so little TLC. But with my face, it was only after the second treatment that I really began to notice. My skin felt plumper, tighter and it looked fresh and young and it developed a sheen as if I was wearing one of those slightly reflective foundations or a highlighter. Except I wasn’t.
Profhilo before and after treatment
Where it really shone was my cheekbones. The skin around the eyes looked much better and zingier. However, Profhilo doesn’t fill heavy lines, although it’s good for the accordion lines and great for firming up the marionette area, especially if you’ve had acne in the past. It is also brilliant for the old crepey turtle neck for those of us who have no wish look as if we reside in the Galapagos.
It took about a week before the difference started and this, apparently, is only the beginning. The HA is supposed to keep simulating the collagen or creating neocollagenesis, a process that stimulates the collagen receptors in the skin, for another six to eight months and then the advice is to top up once or twice a year to keep the shine and the plumpness and the general youthful glow going.
Not that it is total 'tox (botulinum toxin) and filler replacement, talking to Vicky, she said: “It is a skin quality treatment, for smoother texture, bounce, plumpness, elasticity. It remodels skin but will not make any difference to contours. For lift, you need fillers and for addressing formed lines like the forehead or crow’s feet, Botox is still best. But really everybody who is having Botox and filler treatments should be considering Profhilo too, to work in the background. Other injectable results will look better and last longer. And the better your skin, the longer I will be able to use injectables to give a natural looking boost!”
So I took my new face away for Christmas and despite the barrels of red wine and industrial-strength cigarette smoking, it withstood all that the festive season could throw at it. It even managed an afternoon snooze in full sunshine without an iota of SPF (don’t tell Vicky) and came out the other side still shiny and new.
But the acid test? (Please forgive the pun). The Mother. With an eye like a gimlet, despite being 78 years old and unable to read her texts without extending her arm to Mr Tickle length, she looked me swiftly over on arrival in France. “Nice boots,” she pronounced. “The eyebrows are a little dark. But you look very well indeed.”
Bearing in mind I’d just driven for seven hours through northern France, run the gauntlet of the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ and spent the night on a Brittany Ferry from Portsmouth. I’d call that some sort of massive result!
Profhilo costs £850 for 2 sessions one month apart at Medicetics, London