Despite the fact that I’ve been a beauty journalist for years, I can count on both hands the number of facials I’ve had in that time. Give me a thorough rubdown or hoof-shaving pedi any day, but thus far I’ve found facials either far too ‘blah’, too uncomfortable (just the thought of extractions makes me shudder) or full-on disastrous (like that time I got signed off of work for two weeks with dermatitis from forehead to nips - true story).
However, when my eczema-prone sister recommended a facial that really sorted out her skin, I sat up and took notice. I dipped in my toes (well, my face) in and it’s proved to be a game-changer. Dear readers, if you've yet to be acquainted, meet the Hydrafacial. So popular is it that it has just acquired has its very own dedicated salon in London, in addition to being widely available in 900 UK venues. And what's more, the store is giving hundreds of people the chance to have a Hydrafacial for free. To celebrate the opening of its HydraFacial LDN Flagship salon (below) just north of Oxford Street, each month 750 appointments for a free 45-minute Deluxe treatment (worth £130) will be released.
The catch? There is none. Simply register your interest, wait for the bi-monthly appointment release, and book your one treatment. Slots will be available during weekdays between 10am and 5pm and on weekends between 12 noon and 3pm. If that doesn't prove the faith the company has that you'll become a regular in one of their 900 or more UK sites after just one try, we don't know what will. But if you still need convincing, read on to find out what to expect.
What is a Hydrafacial?
Sought after for being Beyoncé’s no-downtime pre-show facial of choice, it's also loved by Jenner/Kardashian clan: “it sucks up all the dirt and leaves skin very luminous and soft, and of course, it’s very hydrating,” they bleat. If that essentially sounds like a giant face Hoover to you, you wouldn’t be wrong. Despite that, a Hydrafacial is also a weirdly enjoyable experience, as I can testify.
It's 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 a glycolic or salicylic acid solution (or whatever exfoliating acid suits you best ), extractions 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. Here's what my customised Hydrafacial involved:
1. Cleansing and exfoliation. As I’ve got a problematic relationship with glycolic acid (see my dermatitis hell, above), my aesthetic specialist opted to use a gentler salicylic acid peel to clarify pores and generally loosen crud.
2. Extractions. If you’re used to a facialist 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-irritating 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.
4. 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 for me, it was midway through an hour-long treatment.
5. 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.
What are the results?
This depends on your goal and how your Hydrafacial was customised, but expect a smoother skin texture, a noticeable increase in hydration, fewer apparent fine lines and a reduction in sebum levels and breakouts if you’re oil-prone (that’d be me). Founder of The Esho Clinic Dr Tijion Esho loves the fact that it tackles congestion AND signs of ageing:
“For those with congested skin, the HydraFacial really comes into its own. There are no other treatments out there for congested skin that are this gentle (a lot of people find that peels are too harsh for them) but still give results. HydraFacial is also really effective for patients looking to smooth out fine lines.”
If you’re looking for a special occasion glow-giver, this facial has got legs as far as instant gratification goes, says Esho:
“It’s perfect for my patients who are always on the go, or before a big event as there’s no downtime. My celebrity patients like to use it before filming; I’ll have a Hydrafacial myself before any tv appearances as it does make you look camera-ready.”
A Hydrafacial can be seen as a halfway house between a regular facial and an invasive procedure - if you want to see a marked improvement in your skin but aren’t ready for the likes of injectables, it could be just the thing. And it turns out you can apply the formula to other parts of your body too...
“I don’t just treat the face," says Esho. "I’ve developed a treatment for the buttocks-area that uses ultrasound and radiofrequency to tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of any cellulite. I then employ HydraFacial to remove any dead skin, cleanse and make your bum look and feel silky-smooth.”
A bum facial may be a step too far for some (my bum for one doesn’t get many outings in drizzly Britain, but you do you). But it’s not really a surprise to me that the option’s there in this-here Insta era.
It’s a facial for (almost) all - especially now
Thanks to the versatility of the treatment, a Hydrafacial serves to benefit nigh on everyone - it can help to rid pores of bacteria and sebum if you’re breakout-prone, diminish the appearance of wrinkles if preventing premature ageing is your main aim, and even decrease the likelihood of pigmentation over time with the addition of the vitamin C booster.
Adverse reactions are extremely rare, unlike other facials or non-invasive treatments, and the fact that the Hydrafacial is performed using a machine and to a specified routine means that results are generally very consistent. That said, it’s not an all-round miracle worker. If you’ve got active acne, rosacea , dermatitis or any other inflammatory skin condition, you’ll have to give it a miss until any flare-ups have subsided, and it’s also not yet been approved for use in pregnancy. Otherwise, it’s a goer for most of us, with experts recommending a monthly treatment in order to optimise results. Priced at roughly £130 in London, it’s certainly no bargain but with the significant payoff you’re likely to see, it could be a wise investment.
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