Six Non-Surgical Facial Treatments For Better Skin
Illustration by Mr Luke Brookes
Sticking needles in your face in an effort to look your best might seem drastic, but facial treatments have come a long way in recent years. Pain and downtime are minimal and results are often near instantaneous. We’re not talking Botox here, but medical-grade facials that can transform your skin. Below, we’ve put together a short guide to treatments, from the so-called vampire facial, which reduces signs of ageing and pigmentation, to LEDs that treat specific concerns such as acne.
The retexturising treatment
DermaFrac, which is available at Cloud Twelve in Notting Hill, west London, is a retexturising and rejuvenating treatment that targets various skin concerns, such as textured skin, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and dullness. “The facial works as a three-in-one aesthetic treatment that includes microdermabrasion, microneedling and simultaneous infusion of tailored active serums,” says Ms Lindsay Gray, managing director at DermaFrac distributor Eden Aesthetics.
Microdermabrasion exfoliates while increasing circulation and unclogging pores and primes the skin for the microneedling (tiny needles that penetrate the skin). DermaFrac uses smaller-than-usual microneedles, so it causes less irritation, which go deep into the skin to infuse it with serum. Finally, red light is used to calm inflammation and stimulate collagen production. Microneedling may sound drastic, but Gray says it’s “a gentle and non-irritating treatment that has minimal downtime and the results are natural and gradual”. Skin should be plump, refined and glowing. Be prepared to expect a bit of redness at first, but it should reduce a few hours after the treatment. Also, using SPF is key as the skin becomes photosensitive due to the treatment.
Best for: renewing and smoothing out skin tone and texture, boosting collagen production and calming inflammation and acne. From £185 per session or £535 for a course of three treatments.
The acupuncture option
An acupuncture facial is a great option for fans of holistic treatments, especially if you’re looking for a more sculpted result on your face. Aculectrics at Gotham Wellness in New York is described as ancient medicine meets modern technology. “The treatment starts with body acupuncture,” says Gotham Wellness founder Ms Stefanie DiLibero to target any health or body issues. Then, after prepping the skin, “a detailed facial microcurrent treatment follows, lifting and sculpting the muscles of the face, while providing qi [energy] in the form of electricity, which stimulates the cells”. The treatment then proceeds with facial acupuncture, which can help in treating health imbalances from muscle pain and headaches to hormonal imbalances, soften fine lines and wrinkles, reduce inflammation and puffiness, increase lymphatic drainage and stimulate collagen production and cell renewal, all while sitting under LED lights.
Best for: softening fine lines and wrinkles, reducing puffiness and inflammation and stimulating collagen production.From $490 for the first session and $390 for follow-up treatments.
The facial cupping
Another way to sculpt the face using lymphatic drainage techniques is facial cupping. Cupping, a centuries-old practice that uses cups to create suction on your skin, has many benefits including soothing muscle pain, headaches and colds by increasing blood circulation. The New York-based facialist Ms Ildi Pekar offers a Magnetic-Cupping Facial, which uses this technique on the face to depuff, detox and increase blood circulation. After prepping the skin, Pekar uses small cups and stimulating vibrations and glides them on the face, increasing lymphatic drainage and the release of toxins, a vacuuming of toxins if you will. The treatment has a ticklish sensation, but reduces fine lines, under-eye bags, dark circles and puffiness as well as any muscle tension in the jaw or forehead. This gives a glowy and sculpted result and, unlike body cupping, will not leave you bruised.
Best for: sculpting and detoxing the skin. From $330 (£297) per session.
The light treatment
Light emitting diode (LED) therapy can be effective at targeting various skin issues, from acne to hyperpigmentation and dullness, by emitting infrared lights in different wavelengths that penetrate deep into the skin to stimulate cell turnover and boost rejuvenation and repair. There are four colours, which you can combine. Red light promotes circulation, white light reduces inflammation, yellow is used to brighten the skin and blue helps treat acne by killing bacteria. The treatment is highly beneficial, doesn’t hurt or irritate the skin and is a good option if you don’t want to spend more than half an hour at the spa. The Cowshed spas at Soho House offer LED facial treatments by The Light Salon.
You can also visit one of Ms Joanna Vargas’s spas in Los Angeles or New York for a full-body LED light bed, which will boost circulation and heal skin cells from head to toe. Several sessions are usually recommended, but one treatment can make a noticeable difference. You might also consider getting your own LED device, such as the Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro, to get similar (but not quite clinic-grade) results at home.
Best for: most skin concerns, giving a natural glow, smooth texture and tone while reducing inflammation or irritation. From about £50 per treatment.
The vampire facial
The “vampire facial” made headlines in 2013 when Ms Kim Kardashian posted a bloody selfie while having the treatment. PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections were first used on patients with orthopaedic injuries to accelerate healing. “A small sample of blood is taken at the beginning of the procedure and numbing cream is applied to the area being treated,” says Harley Street clinical aesthetician Dr David Jack. “These platelets are then reinjected into the skin or scalp, the injection itself causing the platelets to activate and release growth factors. This in turn causes a reaction in the tissues being treated, which increases blood flow and stimulates cells in the area.”
The result is a reduction in fine lines and dark circles, plus improved skin texture. Dr Jack says it can take three to 12 months to see results and a series of treatments (three or four) is recommended. “These treatments tend to be popular with people who are keen to avoid Botox or fillers and are looking for a more ‘natural’ alternative,” he says. You may experience redness and swelling post-treatment, which is normal, but it will go down fairly quickly, leaving you with good and long-lasting results.
Best for: plumping and retexturising skin and promoting hair growth. From £550 per session.
The radiofrequency remodel
The rather theatrically named Secret RF is a relatively new radiofrequency treatment designed to improve skin texture and tone by “remodelling” it from the inside out. By utilising microneedling (similar to the vampire facial and DermaFrac), the skin is hit with levels of radiofrequency to jumpstart its healing process, thereby improving the appearance of fine lines and acne scars and improving the general quality of the skin. “The controlled damage of the skin with the needles [combined with] radio frequency stimulates collagen production and gives skin a tighter appearance,” says Dr Marco Nicoloso, a cosmetic doctor who performs Secret RF at Ouronyx in central London. An anaesthetic cream is applied before the treatment. “Patients generally see a couple of hours of redness, but downtime is usually less than 24 hours,” says Dr Nicoloso.
Following the treatment, he recommends using SPF and avoiding exercise for the first day as the skin can be quite sensitive. “You should also avoid skin irritants such as retinol, salicylic and glycolic acid, for at least a week,” he says. After that, the skin should gradually improve over the next few weeks. “The best option is a course of three treatments, four to six weeks apart, but the results are gradual, so some patients will start to see improvements after the first one,” says Dr Nicoloso.
Best for: general rejuvenation and improvement in skin texture and quality. From £950 per session or £2,500 for a course of three treatments.