HydraFacial with Bare Faced Aesthetics
In early May I tried out a skin treatment called HydraFacial at a new skincare clinic that recently opened in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.
Bare Faced Aesthetics is run by Zoe Myers, who has been practicing as an aesthetician for over 7 years. Zoe contacted me via Instagram as she was looking for someone local to come in and review the treatment.
I'd never heard of HydraFacial before, but then again the only time I'm anywhere near a skincare clinic is usually at the Center Parcs spa - and let's be honest, that's usually more mud pack than medical grade treatment. The one thing I had to ask straight off the bat was, is HydraFacial suitable for people with rosacea? A machine-delivered facial involving something called vortex technology sounded a bit hardcore to me.
If you've read my previous skincare blog you'll know I've been trying to figure out the best way to manage my rosacea for a couple of years. I have a decent routine, but flare-ups are not uncommon and because my face reacts to all sorts, I'm very cautious about facial treatments and have avoided having any since my diagnosis.
Zoe reassured me that she had seen plenty of people with rosacea and that the treatment should be gentle enough. She sent me some more information and suggested I watch some of the reviews on Youtube to see exactly how it worked.
What's HydraFacial then?
HydraFacial is designed to stimulate the skin's natural self-renewing processes by exfoliating the skin, getting rid of dead skin cells, and extracting 'bad stuff' - the 'gunk to glow' challenge (totally up your street if you're the kind of person who likes watching pore extraction videos).
It then infuses the skin with antioxidant and moisturising serums which are meant to improve skin health and appearance.
It's non-ablative (i.e. no blades) and non-laser, so while it does class as a medical grade treatment, it's not invasive in the way that microdermabrasion is. The six-stage treatment is delivered via a machine and doesn't require any sitting and waiting for treatments to 'take'; it also claims to be effective for all skin types.
My face before treatment
Before the treatment - close-ups of the problem areas around my nose and chin. You can see the surface texture is uneven and there are quite a few blackheads.
The morning of the treatment I took some photos of my face to record how my skin was at that point in time. Apart from the obvious redness around the nose (I have some thread veins that become more visible during flareups) and an imminent breakout on the left of my chin, you can see where my rosacea patterns dry blotches across my forehead. Obviously I wasn't expecting the treatment to cure any of this but I was curious as to what it would do to my overall skin texture, and whether any of those pesky chin and nose blackheads would actually shift.
My HydraFacial experience
I found the clinic tucked away down a tiny side passage just off the main street, which I walked past at first because clearly I should have worn my glasses (hilariously, Specsavers is literally right next door). Zoe greeted me warmly and took me up to the treatment room, made me a very lovely cup of tea and talked me through each of the six stages of HydraFacial before we got started.
The cleansing, exfoliation, extraction and infusion are all done using a hand-held device attached to the machine that powers and delivers the treatments. It's a bit like having a small vacuum with lots of different attachments passed over your face; definitely not the full mask scenario I had originally pictured when I heard the phrase 'machine-delivered'.
The exfoliation stage is done chemically. This might sound a bit scary but it's achieved with a glycolic & salycylic peel that's balanced to penetrate to a certain level of the skin and no further. I already use glycolic pads at home about once a week to take care of the exfoliation that my skin can't handle being done by a physical exfoliant, so I was pretty comfortable with this. Minor tingling was about all I experienced and the familar heat surge that accompanies my rosacea flare-ups was noticeably absent.
Next was the fun bit - the extraction. Given that I was basically having blackheads sucked out of my face, it was surprisingly painless. I could definitely feel the suction, but it didn't hurt. Zoe made several passes as the usual 'problem' areas of nose and chin, before moving on to the infusion step, which pumps the skin with peptides and hyaluronic acid, which is a natural property in skin that reduces in quantity as we age.
The treatment rounds off with LED lights which are intended to reduce inflammation and encourage the skin's natural healing/rejuvenating processes. The standard treatment uses red LED lights but blue lights can also be used to treat acne and breakouts.
Afterwards Zoe asked me if I wanted to see what had been extracted from my face, and naturally even though I knew this would probably be gross I said yes because, well, who wouldn't? I'll admit I was sceptical as to how much this bit would have achieved and I was kind of grossly impressed to see all these little bits floating around in the liquid left from the treatment.
One hour after treatment - pink and slightly tingly still. I had fully expected at least a minor rosacea flare-up so this didn't bother me, plus my skin felt smooth and plumper.
Day two - the day after treatment, close-ups of the areas most heavily treated (extractions). Redness starting to fade and visibly smoother skin on the chin and nose. I couldn't get quite the same lighting as the first set of photos so I took some the next day as well just to make sure the comparison was accurate.
Day three - closer to the lighting of the pre-treatment photos and you can still see some redness on the right hand side of the nose but it's definitely less pronounced. The chin is smoother and more even-textured.
Day three - the dry patches on my forehead were much better, and my nose and chin as well as cheeks not so discoloured as before. Overall my skin felt happier and less congested and I was more comfortable with my bare face than usual.
The HydraFacial treatment clearly did some good things for my skin, and miraculously from my perspective, my rosacea reaction lasted less time than it usually takes my face to calm down after an energetic dog walk. The thing I was most impressed with was the difference in texture on my nose and chin; I couldn't stop touching them to check they were actually as smooth as I thought they were! Even writing this a week later I can see and feel the improvement, which is impressive for a treatment which promises results that last for 5-7 days.
Obviously no facial is a one-time fix and as you might expect, HydraFacial recommend regular treatments to maintain the results. At £120 a treatment, this could be an expensive routine but if you're already getting regular facials or considering standalone resurfacing, extraction or LED treatments, it is comparatively good value considering it delivers all of those in one. It's definitely a treatment I could see myself having again in the future.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience at Bare Faced Aesthetics. Zoe was friendly, engaging and clearly passionate not only about the treatment she provides but about helping people to feel comfortable in their own skin, something I am definitely on board with. She took the time to answer my questions, and because I actually understood what was going on throughout the treatment, I felt like I could ask her more than I would have probably felt comfortable to in a less relaxed environment.
If you're interested in the HydraFacial treatment and other treatments Bare Faced Aesthetics provide, I recommend giving them a follow on Instagram, @barefacedaestheticsclinic (and if you're really keen you can watch Zoe perform the treatment on herself in one of her highlights).
I received this treatment free of charge in exchange for a review of the treatment and my experience.