Walk into any department store or pharmacy and you can’t fail to be mind-boggled by the sheer number of skin care products on offer. Bother to read the labels, and you’ll be similarly bamboozled by the lofty, vague claims made by the some of them. Don’t you wish they’d just get to the point?
If points – sharp, slender, silvery ones to be specific – yes, we’re talking about needles – make your blood run cold, then we’ll leave you where you are, making your way through the gorgeously packaged offerings of the beauty department. Otherwise, here are a few tried and tested treatments which will get, quite literally, under your skin.
The ‘Vampire’ Facial – Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy
What does it involve? A small amount of blood is extracted from your arm and placed in a centrifuge, causing ‘yellow blood’ – plasma – to rise to the top. This platelet-rich substance is then injected at various and multiple points all over your face; extra special attention can be paid to your personal problem areas as well.
Why does it work? Everything that your body needs for regeneration – stem cells and growth factors– are stored in these plasma-rich-platelets: platelet rich plasma contains five to ten times more growth factors than normal blood. By directly delivering these subcutaneously in a concentrated form, your skin can rejuvenate, firm and plump itself.
How does it feel? Deeply unpleasant, rather than painful. A numbing cream is applied before the treatment, which minimises the discomfort, but there were definitely a few moments where my primary thought was something unprintable, but that roughly translated to “I’d rather look like a hag.”
Downtime? Expect a slightly red, swollen face immediately after the treatment, followed by a few days of tiny visible pinpricks, which are easily covered with makeup (although you mustn’t apply this immediately afterwards)Extra delicate areas, such as under the eyes, may be prone to bruising – I was sporting a bit of a shiner for a week or so.
Results? Really impressive – and definitely worth the discomfort.Within a few days, my skin appeared firmer and younger, with lines – particular the deeper and more troublesome ones, such as the ones running from nose to mouth, much diminished. Best results are typically seen after 3 months and last for about a year.
What does it involve? If you’re squeamish about the idea of being injected with your own blood, this is a great, minimally invasive, alternative to PRP Therapy. Microdermabrasion sloughs off dead skin cells, following which a dermapen is applied all over the face. Next, a vitamin rich concoction, containing antioxidants and stem cells, is applied directly to the skin which, having just been ‘microneedled’,more readily absorbs the formula. Finally, after one hour, a skin brightening solution containing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and stem cells is applied to the skin. The molecular structure of this medical-grade formula ensures that it is small enough to penetrate into the skin’s outer layer.
Why does it work? Slight harm to the skin kicks it into healing overdrive: so by traumatising it slightly, you stimulate the production of collagen, with firmer, younger-looking skin the result. The dermapen also slightly breaks the epidermis allowing the formula to more deeply penetrate beneath the surface.
How does it feel? A local anaesthetic cream is applied before the treatment, so it’s not at all painful – in fact, the constant needling sensation on the face is strangely relaxing, like a slightly ouchy massage!
Downtime? Red pinpricks were visible on my face for the next few days but easily covered with primer.
Results? Fantastic – I looked like I’d slept for a week, with the hollows under my eyes plumped up and a youthful, glowy appearance to my skin. Discolouration and pigmentation also seemed to be minimised, and pores tighter.
What does it involve? Profhilo is a new patented product from Italy, containing super-high levels of hyaluronic acid, which are injected into the face over the course of two treatments, leaving around 4 weeks between sessions. Unlike PRP, where special attention can be given to your personal trouble zones, Profhilo can only be administered to the five specific points (10 if we’re talking about the whole face) determined by protocol.
Why does it work? Hyaluronic acid (HA) is naturally present in our skin, but levels decrease as we age. In this formula, high molecular weight HA works on the surface of the skin, improving its laxity, while low molecular weight HA (the unique ‘high’ and ‘low’ weights are mirrored in the ‘hilo’ of the product name) goes deep to stimulate increased HA production.
How does it feel? Not awful. A slight sting with each injection – 10 injections per session, in all – although some areas of the face may be slightly more sensitive than others. For me, the nasolabial (nose to mouth) line produced a bit of a wince. Afterwards, the odd numbness in my face made me feel a bit like a chipmunk – I was quite surprised to see in the mirror that I didn’t look like one!
Downtime? Virtually none. For a short time after the treatment, I had bumps resembling large insect bites on my face, but these went down within a few hours. After that, I could still feel them with my fingertips but they weren’t visible to the eye. You could very much get this done in your lunch break and be back at your desk for the afternoon.
Results? Best results are seen around 2 weeks after the second treatment, so when I was already looking smooth and glowing within a few days – despite it being that rubbish time of year when sunshine is non-existent and healthy eating is a concept rather than reality – I was immodestly excited to see the ultimate results. They didn’t disappoint. Expect a LOT of compliments.
Superfacialist Antonia Burrell’s “Facial in a Box” is what you need. The ‘cupping’ that she uses in her practice to lift, sculpt, define and contour the skin is made accessible by way of little suction cups, as well as micro-doses of the dreamy concoctions she uses on her clients.
Cupping may sound like hocus-pocus, but it’s actually a millennia-old technique, prized in ancient Egyptian and Eastern cultures – and the slight pressure it exerts on the skin gives a radiant, rosy glow that you might otherwise experience only after … well, whatever happens to give you that kind of glow.
The slender suction cups look a touch odd but are completely non-invasive – music to the ears of age-defying needle-refusniks – you just place them over your skin, squeeze them to create the necessary suction and then sweeeeep them upwards and outwards, releasing as you reach the outer limits of your face. I have a few false starts every time – the action takes a little while to get used to – but it’s definitely worth persisting to get the results. Even once you’ve used the contents of the box, the suction cups are there to save the day next time your face is puffed up from alcohol, PMT, or lack of sleep: these babies, with a lubricating oil or serum, will sculpt your cheeks back into recognition.