What Is a HydraFacial?
Hydrafacial is the brand name for a device from Edge Systems, LLC. It combines 2 aesthetic standard treatments: dermabrasion and a very, very light chemical peel. While it does add a new twist to dermabrasion, it is essentially just an exfoliating treatment with the option of adding a very light peel… and a LOT of expensive marketing.
The new twist is how the dermabrasion is done. Dermabrasion simply means exfoliation of the skin, or abrasion of the dermis. This process removes older, inactive, “dead” cells from the surface of the skin, frequently giving the skin a smoother feel and fresher, less “dull” appearance. It often allows for smoother application of cosmetics and better penetration of skin care products.
Dermabrasion has taken many forms through the years, both as professional and at-home treatments, and new versions have often gained serious momentum as the newest fad in anti-aging. We have seen everything from dermabrasion with a soft brush, a rough loofah-like sponge (the “Buff-Puff”), a grainy over-the-counter scrub with ground-up apricot pits (St. Ives Apricot Scrub – By the way, please, please don’t use this on your face! You might as well tear into your skin with industrial sand paper), expensive automatic rotating brushes (Mia, Clarisonic, etc) and more. Professional, in office treatments have taken the forms of microdermabrasion; using a rotating tip or tiny crystals and suction to remove dead cells.
How Does a HydraFacial Work Exactly?
The HydraFacial treatment is similar to another treatment called microdermabrasion which uses a “mildly abrasive instrument to gently sand your skin, removing the thicker, uneven outer layer,” according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
That said, it’s not exactly microdermabrasion, and some people say it’s far better. The [HydraFacial] device uses an exfoliating tip paired with suction to remove dead skin cells from the surface of your face. As skin is exfoliated, serums are infused into the skin, she says. That last step is the key reason proponents say it’s so effective.
There are three steps in the HydraFacial treatment, according to the company. There is no downtime — a common word for recovery time in dermatology — and the entire treatment lasts 30 minutes.
Here are the three steps involved in a HydraFacial:
Cleanse and Peel
This is the resurfacing step when the skin is exfoliated. “Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of the skin. It has long been known to have beneficial skin effects, including leaving the skin looking brighter, unclogging pores, and — with long-term use — increasing collagen production,” says Dr. Crawford. This is all done in the HydraFacial with the HydraFacial tip. This “generates a fluid vortex over the skin that gently dislodges impurities and dead skin cells,” says Crawford.
Extract and Hydrate
The tip gets the gunk out of pores and delivers topical moisturizers simultaneously.
Fuse and Protect
Your treatment will finish with “boosters,” or serums. These are geared toward your skin goal, which may include reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, dull skin, or enlarged pores. The treatment is entirely customizable through these “boost” serums, which is a major perk for patients.
As an alternative, there is the Geneo Super-Facial, another three-step facial that combines exfoliation and active topicals. Dermalinfusion is another such treatment that says it “exfoliates, extracts, and infuses for radiant and rejuvenated skin.” The premise behind all of these is similar — exfoliation and an infusion of serums — but the patented technology differs. The one that’s right for you may depend on what your dermatologist or esthetician offers.
The Potential Benefits of Getting a HydraFacial
The company says it delivers “the best skin of your life,” which is a big promise. While that’s certainly not a guarantee, there are some important complexion perks. Along with exfoliation, the device delivers active ingredients into the skin.Depending on the specific actives used in the HydraFacial, the treatment can improve hydration, radiance, and even skin texture and pore size.
The company uses their own serums but has also partnered with companies like Alastin Skincare, ZO Skin Health, and HydroPeptide to offer a wider range of choices. (What will be best for you is a conversation to have with your dermatologist or esthetician.)
There is some older research to suggest the premise is effective, though designated research on HydraFacial itself does not exist. A small past study on 20 female participants ages 34 to 65 looked at the benefits of hydradermabrasion. This is a treatment that combines microdermabrasion with antioxidant serums, and it is similar to the HydraFacial, but this study was not done on the HydraFacial treatment itself.
In the study, one group received six treatments, each about a week apart. Another group received the antioxidant serum only, which was smoothed on the skin by hand every week. Researchers measured the results via photos, skin biopsies, and antioxidant levels in skin. At the end of the study, only the hydradermabrasion group had increased thickness in the outer layer of skin and the papillary layer (which contains collagen), and increased antioxidant levels. In terms of appearance, that all equaled fewer fine lines, more cinched pores, and a more even skin tone.
Another past study published by the same author aimed to discover if microdermabrasion was indeed made better by combining it with an antioxidant serum. Each female participant received a microdermabrasion treatment, and an antioxidant-rich serum was applied to half of their face. After six weeks of weekly treatments, skin biopsies revealed that the microdermabrasion serum side had increased skin thickness and fibroblast density (fibroblasts make collagen, per the National Cancer Institute), and antioxidant levels increased by 32 percent.
Overall, the two studies found that a microdermabrasion treatment combined with topical antioxidants (similar to what you’d find in the HydraFacial) was more effective than each on their own. A HydraFacial essentially combines a microdermabrasion-like treatment with an infusion of serums. This is delivered through their patented technology and device.
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