April 26th 2021
Why a Hydrafacial is the facial you need to try if you hate facials
May 21st 2019 / 0 comment
It’s more pleasurable than painful, offers better results than high street facials and can be customised to give every skin type a glow. Here’s why this former facial hater is wondering where the Hydrafacial has been all of her life
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. Kylie Jenner’s makeup artist Ariel Tejada also recently told the MailOnline that she and the Jenner/Kardashian clan love it as “it sucks up all the dirt and leaves skin very luminous and soft, and of course it’s very hydrating.” If that essentially sounds like a giant face hoover to you, you wouldn’t be wrong, but a Hydrafacial is also a weirdly enjoyable experience, as I can testify after a visit to Epilium & Skin near London’s Baker Street.
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.
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 and award-winning cosmetic doctor Dr Tijion Esho underlines that it is especially effective for those seeking both rejuvenating and purifying benefits (i.e, you want to smooth out fine lines but also tackle blackheads):
“For those with congested skin the HydraFacial really comes into its own. There’s no other treatments out there for congested skin that’s as gentle (a lot of people find that peels are too harsh for them) but gives results. HydraFacial is also really effective for patients looking to smooth out fine lines, as the treatment rejuvenates skin.”
If you’re looking for a special occasion glow-giver, it’s got legs as far as instant gratification goes for most of us too:
“There’s no other treatment out there for that’s as mild but delivers as effective results. It’s perfect for my patients on the go or before a big event as there’s no downtime. My celebrity patients like to use it before filming, and I’ll have a Hydrafacial myself before I go on This Morning – it makes everyone look camera ready.”
A Hydrafacial is also 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 according to Dr Esho:
“It fills the missing gap in my clinic. I do a lot of highly invasive procedures such as laser, micro needling and peels and I introduced the Hydrafacial as what I wanted was a treatment with minimal downtime but that still had a significant benefit for my patients’ skin - this treatment fits the bill perfectly.”
It turns out that you can apply the Hydrafacial formula to other parts of your body too...
“I don’t just treat the face - I’ve developed a treatment for the buttocks area which also uses ultrasound and radiofrequency to tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of any cellulite before employing 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/ any outings in drizzly Britain but you do you) but (t) it’s not really a surprise that the option’s there in this here Insta era.
It’s a facial for all (almost)
As the versatility of the treatment would indicate, 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 a 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 and experts recommend a monthly treatment in order to optimise results - an Express Hydrafacial at Epilium & Skin comes in at £120, so it’s certainly no bargain but for the significant payoff you’re likely to see it could be a wise investment depending on your priorities (I think I’d keep my bum out of the picture). It’s special occasion stuff, and I’ll definitely be booking in a few more before my wedding in August alongside more regular mini-LED facials at The Light Salon. Overall, as usual, Beyoncé is most definitely onto something.