A veteran magazine beauty editor/writer (and a member of the 40+ club), Genevieve Monsma created MediumBlonde to help Gen Xers and Baby Boomers age the way they want.


A Face Treatment Probably Worth Your Time and Money

A Face Treatment Probably Worth Your Time and Money

Women often ask me which noninvasive treatments are “worth it.” And I almost always respond...depends on what you want to tackle: Wrinkles? Botox. Sun spots? IPL—or a pigment-targeting laser. Slack skin? Strategically-placed filler. My point? In-office treatments are typically not one-service-fits-all. With one exception: the HydraFacial

A HydraFacial will not erase your wrinkles or magically tighten a saggy jawline. But, like an intense workout with a professional trainer (versus twenty self-directed minutes on a stationary bike while scrolling through Facebook), I do believe this in-office treatment can elevate anyone's skincare regimen and put you on the path to a healthier complexion. 

So what does it offer that you can’t replicate at home? Deep exfoliation, a thorough pore clear-out, an infusion of customized skincare actives, and the expert eye of an esthetician who can suggest what to add or subtract from your at-home regimen. Like a trainer-directed gym session, a skin treatment with a good esthetician can help you garner results faster—and provide the tools you need to maintain those results when she’s not around.

Unlike a trainer workout though, you needn’t undergo a HydraFacial multiple times per week (or even once a week). For the very best results, getting a HydraFacial every six to eight weeks is probably a good strategy. But even three to four times a year (think seasonally) would be beneficial.

So, what is a HydraFacial? Well, it’s not new. I’ve had a number of HydraFacials over the years, mostly when I was a magazine editor in New York. But in recent years I’ve noticed the treatment has become more widely available, which is one reason I think it's worth putting on your radar (assuming it's not there already).

The scoop: A HydraFacical is efficient (done in 30 minutes or less), effective, and customizable, as it can target issues ranging from acne to sun damage to dullness. There’s also no downtime, it won’t break the bank (average cost is $150—and usually less if you buy a series), and you’ll see results right away (Instant gratification? Yes, please.). Finally, it’s painless and even fairly relaxing—though don’t expect a scalp massage, lavender candles and Enya. This is a medical treatment, not a spa service. 

As I mentioned, I’ve had multiple HydraFacials, and have found the treatments dependably good. This consistency is due to the fact that “HydraFacial” refers to a proprietary device created by HydraFacial MD/Edge Systems. Anyone performing a HydraFacial uses the same branded device and thus results should be reliably consistent from provider to provider. 

Never had a HydraFacial? My most recent treatment—with esthetician Gina Thompson at the Center for Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery—went like this: cleansing/exfoliating, a superficial peel, pore extraction, and serum-infusing. 

The HydraFacial handheld device in action (image swiped from  HydraFacial's Instagram feed )

The HydraFacial handheld device in action (image swiped from HydraFacial's Instagram feed)

During the cleansing/exfoliating portion, grime and dead-skin-cell buildup is removed using the aforementioned HydraFacial device. It’s about the size of an electric toothbrush and employs what the company calls vortex technology. English, please? The head of the device is fitted with an exfoliating tip that whirls to dislodge grime and dead cells from the skin’s surface.  If you’ve ever used a cleansing brush such as a Clarisonic, this step feels a bit like that—with the volume turned up.

There are opportunities for customization throughout a HydraFacial, and I opted for one during the exfoliation step. Rather than a standard HydraFacial tip (three of which are shown in the photo at the top of this post), I upgraded to a Diamond tip, which is slightly more abrasive and increased the depth of sloughing. I decided mid-summer was a good time to be a bit more aggressive because I’ve dialed down my Retin A usage, and my skin is less sensitive.

After the cleansing and manual-exfoliation step, Gina used the HydraFacial device to frost my face with something called GlySal serum, a mix of glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Again, the strength of this peel solution can be tweaked according to your skin’s needs. Because I’d already opted for the Diamond tip, Gina went with a lower concentration of the acids to keep from over-exfoliating and potentially irritating my skin. The peel solution felt akin to a gentle, at-home peel—there was some slight tingling but no outright stinging. 

After that, it was time for extractions. Unlike the manual (often painful), squeeze-style extractions you’d endure in a traditional spa facial, HydraFacial extractions are performed using the HydraFacial device as a mini vacuum, hoovering gunk out of your pores. It took three minutes and, afterward, Gina showed me what she’d removed (the gunk collects inside a chamber in the device, and, yes, seeing it is as gross as it sounds.)

The final step in a HydraFacial service is serum-infusion. You can choose from a medley of serum upgrades (known as Boosts) that combat specific issues, such as deeper lines or dark spots or acne. I just opted for the standard HydraFacial serum, which is laced with skin-protecting anti-oxidants, collagen-boosting peptides, and skin-plumping hyaluronic acid. As Gina moved the device across my face, saturating my skin with serum, I relaxed...and nearly dozed off.

A makeup-free, post-HydraFacial selfie taken in the parking lot.

A makeup-free, post-HydraFacial selfie taken in the parking lot.

Before I sat up on the treatment table, Gina slathered my face with a layer of sunscreen and warned me that I was a bit red. This didn’t surprise me because my skin pinks up pretty easily. But, by the time I’d reached my car and peeked at my skin in the rearview mirror (see photo at left), the redness had dissipated somewhat.

So how did my skin look, aside from pink? Within an hour, I noted the redness had faded to something more like radiance. My pores also appeared smaller (thanks to the extractions), and my undereye puffiness was nearly deflated. When I washed my face later that evening, my skin felt very smooth (like legs do after a good, close shave), and the next morning, when I went to apply concealer, I needed very little. I just applied sunscreen, a bit of bronzer…and called my makeup done.

Have you had a HydraFacial? If so, what did you think? Would you do it again? Tell us all in the Comments, below.

Want to find a HydraFacial provider near you? Check this out.

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