A bad-ass daily skincare regimen is awesome - not to mention a necessity if you’re trying to attain (and maintain) that angelic, Instagram-filtered-in-real-life glow. But sometimes, day-to-day products alone just don't cut it, and you need a little extra oomph to really turn back the clock.
That's where advanced skin treatments come into play.
The good news? There are tons of options out there - and their purported benefits can be pretty wild (vampire facials that shave off 10 years - whoa!). The problem is knowing which “hot new finds” are really worth your time, and which ones are (expensive) snake oil.
If you’ve been on Instagram, you’ve probably seen your fair share of light-emitting diode (LED) light therapy masks and wands ads. They’re those very iRobot-meets-Jabawokee masks that are supposed to treat and perfect your skin with various colors of light.
The claim? That the LED infrared light energy can “awaken” your skin and cause it to react in beneficial ways. Supposedly, the light can help:
Different colors - aka different light wavelengths - are supposed to have specific benefits. Blue light, for example, fights acne-causing bacteria without causing irritation. Red light shrinks pores, reduces redness, and improves circulation and inflammation. Near-infrared light accelerates skin recovery. And amber light is said to build new collagen and elastin.
The idea is to use the LED mask anytime you feel like it. There are in-spa versions (claimed to be more potent) that you can try as a full treatment or as an add-on to your existing facials. And there are at-home tools that you can buy and use on your own. Results are supposed to be immediate, though most fully visible after three days.
It works, and it’s been shown to be an effective, safe, low-cost, and portable solution.
One study found that light therapy “demonstrated significant results for the treatment of medical conditions, including mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris, wound healing, psoriasis, squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Bowen’s disease), basal cell carcinoma, actinic keratosis, and cosmetic applications.” What’s more, these results came free of adverse effects.
So how do you use it? This therapy can be used anytime for maintenance and overall skin health. It’s particularly helpful after a facial, strong treatment, or peel.
For example, you can use blue light after facial extractions to eliminate lingering bacteria and reduce risk of reinfection. Red light therapy after an intense peel can calm inflammation and prevent an adverse reaction.
Micro-needling is a treatment that uses several tiny needles to puncture the outermost layer of skin (using either a roller or a pen).
The claim? Puncturing tiny holes and causing “micro-injuries” boosts your body's natural collagen production and:
Believe the hype. The treatment is more effective for acne scars and deep wrinkles than surface exfoliation or peels.
The results are long term too. Some results - like treatment of acne scars - are permanent, while photo-aging or melasma may require repeated treatments.
But what about pain and downtime?
The biggest question here may not be “Does it work?” but rather, “How much does it hurt?”
Not too much. Many clinics that offer micro-needling start the procedure by applying a numbing cream for about 30 minutes. This reduces the level of discomfort during the treatment. You may expect:
Because of these effects, this treatment may not be tolerable to everyone. Consider your personal pain tolerance and take it from there.
These possibly soothing, maybe claustrophobia-inducing masks have recently been popping up all over Instagram.
The claim? They hydrate, smooth, cleanse, exfoliate, and condition skin.
What’s in them and how does the process work?
These powdery masks (you mix the powder with water to create the jelly) are formulated with:
Lots of variations of these masks are meant to treat specific concerns. Some of the most popular ones offered at spas include:
Sounds fairly soothing, sure. But what makes it different?
The idea here is that the thick masks create a vacuum-seal over the skin, locking in all the beneficial ingredients that the masks contain and helping them penetrate deeply into the skin.
They don’t hurt. While these masks may not transformyour skin, they can hydrate and soothe compromised skin.
If you’re dealing with any flaking, redness, or irritation - or if you simply want to give your skin a little TLC - these are a good way to go.
Kim Kardashian and other celebrities put this facial (officially called the platelet-rich plasma - or PRP - facial) on the map when they started posting about it all over their social media accounts. But, slathering blood on your face? Sounds a little too death metal for most - unless it brings major results.
Here’s how it’s supposed to work: A vial of your blood is drawn about 30 minutes before you get a micro-needling facial. Then, that blood is made into a platelet-rich serum and slathered it on your face at the end of the facial as a healing treatment.
The claim? It can resurface the skin, even out complexion, and give you a bright, youthful glow.
Why blood? The focus here is on your platelets.Platelets are a part of the blood that work to heal, clot, and regenerate tissue. The idea is that if you apply them topically, you can get those benefits on the outside and help restore the skin to a healthier state.
It could work -but you have to make sure to go to a reputable clinic.
Generally speaking, blood is not as effective as a topical treatment because platelets and plasma will die quickly, and it’s tough to get them past the skin’s barrier. That said, if you’re combining it with micro-needling - and if the blood is applied right after it’s drawn - it may actually sink into the dermis and deliver results.
It's similar to micro-needling, but the needles are hollow and made with 24-karat-gold. Plus, they’re infused with a blend of good-for-you ingredients like vitamin C, glutathione, small-molecule hyaluronic acid, and Botox.
Most places will customize the elixir to suit your specific needs. But the basic idea remains the same: you get injected with beneficial vitamins and actives.
Worth a try if you're interested.
Since these needles don’t pierce deep into the skin, there’s virtually no downtime or discomfort (and you won't bleed). Plus, the treatment can be a good introduction into the world of Botox and skin fillers if you're curious but not quite convinced enough to go all out.
This is the only true chemical peel on the list, and it’s the strongest of the three chemical peel options on the market (the other two being glycolic and salicylic acid peels).
The claim? It's meant to uneven skin tone, damaged skin, fine lines, melasma, and facial scarring.
What makes it attractive as a peel? This stuff goes deep into the dermis of the skin without causing the micro-tears that you can experience with more intense physical exfoliants. The results are meant to be immediate, and regular use of TCA peels should improve overall appearance and texture.
Chemical work, but can be unnecessarily tough your skin. This peel is particularly worth it if you have significant acne scarring or pigmentation issues.
Keep in mind that you may experience redness after use - andyou have to stay out of the sun to due to heightened UV sensitivity post-application.
Have other treatments that you want to hear about? Let us know below!