Often the best way to find out about a treatment is via word of mouth. A lot of the time, beauty editors are the ones shouting about a new product or treatment first, but recently I was chatting with Danielle Peazer who was telling me about a facial she had tried and loved. She was so positive about it that I had to book it. The treatment in question was the HydraFacial, a six-step treatment designed to clean out pores and calm inflammation making it ideal for anyone struggling with blocked pores, blackheads or acne. Now, I don't know about you but when it comes to my spots I'm a bit of a squeezer, so when Danielle told me that you could see all the grime that's sucked out of your pores at the end of the session I was desperate to book in.
But first, why are these clogged pores happening in the first place? It could be a number of factors, like excess oil production, hormonal shifts which can increase sebum production, bacterial buildup, and improper shedding of dead cells, among others. Whatever the cause, though, a Hydrafacial, or a treatment wherein the skin is exfoliated, extracted, replenished with hydration, then coated with antioxidants might be a lasting remedy for these, so I had to try my own luck at the re-surfacing treatment. I headed to Nuriss on Wimpole Street in London to put the HydraFacial to the test and upheld my beauty duty by asking the therapist several questions about what exactly was happening on my complexion. Keep scrolling to learn more.
HydraFacial's Six Steps
The HydraFacial starts like any other with the therapist removing makeup and giving the skin a thorough cleanse. A special machine with a spiral tip utilizing "vortex technology," or an extracting and delivery motion, does everything from sucking out dirt and blackheads to infusing the skin with brightening ingredients. The facial itself is a little under an hour total.
1. Drain Fluid Buildup With Lymphatic Massage
As an added enhancement to a regular HydraFacial, you can opt to get mechanical lymphatic drainage. To start, the machine is used for some gentle yet stimulating massage meant to drain fluid buildup in the lymph nodes. The claim is that this boosts the flow of oxygen to the cells and helps to rev up the skin's natural process of eliminating toxins, which in turn produces a clearer complexion and improved skin tone and color. It feels gentle and pretty relaxing.
2. Cleanse and Exfoliate Away Debris
The next stage involves simultaneous cleansing and exfoliating. Dead skin cells are buffed away, while a combination of lactic acid and glucosamine are pushed into pores to aid the exfoliation and boost hydration deep down.
What Is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound that is mostly known for developing and maintaining cartilage. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and helps to counteract the effect of free radicals on the skin.
3. Apply Acid Peel
The third step in the process uses a powerful mix of glycolic and salicylic acids to help loosen and dissolve any leftover debris and brighten the complexion. If this step gives you pause, know that it's so moderate, you won't experience further peeling after the facial.
4. Extract Clogged Pores
Now comes the key part of the process: the extraction. This is where the spiral tip spins and draws out blackheads and other impurities from the pores. It feels more gentle than manual exfoliation, so I was skeptical as to whether it would be as effective. However, a cup is attached to the end of the suction mechanism so you can physically see what's being extracted, which I found to be supremely validating.
5. Plump & Hydrate
After this, a cocktail of customized hyaluronic acid, peptides, and antioxidants are funneled into the pores to plump, hydrate, and repair the skin, even temporarily filling out fine lines. The moisturizing effects of a HydraFacial promise to last up to one week at a time.
6. Treat With LED Light
The last (optional) part of the facial involves targeted LED light—blue meant to kill acne bacteria and/or red meant to reduce any residual redness and help boost collagen. Your specialist will determine what's necessary post-treatment.
Tailor It to You
While the facial follows a set six-step process, this cocktail of ingredients that is applied to the skin post-extraction can be tailored to your complexion's needs.
If you're a city-dweller dealing with pollution-induced dullness, then you can opt for the Life treatment with antioxidants, peptides and hyaluronic acid (which is the treatment I chose).
If your skin is particularly dull and lackluster, there is an aptly-named Brightening treatment that contains Vitamin C meant to target brown spots and sun damage, as well as hyperpigmentation.
Lastly, if acne or acne scarring is your concern then the 'Acne and Acne Scarring' treatment targets the excess oil in the skin and tackles the scarring with a deeper exfoliation using varying strengths of the peel.
Considering the HydraFacial is less hands-on and more machine-based, I was surprisingly relaxing. I could feel myself drifting off as the machine whirred away and the therapist ran the nozzle over my face during each phase. Once the facial had finished I hopped off the bed and the therapist presented me with a flask of murky water. The facial uses pressurized water throughout to flush out the pores, and the H2O that had been used during my treatment now sat in the flask filled with all the debris, dirt, and blackheads that had been in my pores. So gross, yet so addictive to look at. My skepticism that this wouldn't be as effective as manual extraction was instantly dispelled as I peered into the flask on the table.
My skepticism that this wouldn't be as effective as manual extraction was instantly dispelled as I peered into the flask on the table.
While the facial wasn't painful and while I did find it quite relaxing, this definitely isn't something you would book in for if you're after an indulgent treat. This is essentially a deep clean for your skin, something to book in for come January, post-party season when your complexion can look a little worse for wear or after a beach holiday when your skin is parched and perhaps a little blocked from all the sunscreen and sweat.
Hydrafacials will run you around $150-$300 and can be performed at a medispa or your dermatologist's office.
Jamialahmadi K, Arasteh O, Matbou Riahi M, Mehri S, Riahi-Zanjani B, Karimi G. Protective effects of glucosamine hydrochloride against free radical-induced erythrocytes damage. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2014;38(1):212-219. doi:10.1016/j.etap.2014.05.018