What It’s Really Like To Get A HydraFacial

Glowing skin and a clearer complexion in under an hour. There’s a reason why the HydraFacial® is a celebrity favorite, but does it live up to the hype? One beauty editor gives it a try.
Patient Perspective
Written by Vivien Moon
(17)Is this article helpful?4 min read
What It’s Really Like To Get A HydraFacialPuhhha/Shutterstock

In an age when time is of the essence, the idea of getting glowing skin in an hour or less sounds ideal. For anyone who knows anything about skincare, however, it may also sound too good to be true. Cleansing, hydrating, and rejuvenating, the HydraFacial® is said to address a plethora of skin concerns in a matter of minutes. But does it really?

As a beauty editor with a solid skincare routine that’s kept my complexion clear, I was intrigued to try the multi-step hydradermabrasion treatment that is beloved by dermatologists and celebrities alike. While I’ve tried facial massages, LED light therapy, and even ayurvedic cleansing, I’ve never experienced the popular procedure. So, you can imagine my delight when I was invited in for a HydraFacial® at Pearlman Aesthetic Surgery in New York City.

Going in, I knew I would enjoy an hour away from the hustle and bustle of life in Manhattan. But, with very few personal skincare concerns, would a HydraFacial® create a noticeable, long-lasting improvement? Spoiler alert: it did.

What Is a HydraFacial®?

A multi-step hydradermabrasion facial that combines detoxification (via a dirt- and grime-extracting hydra-vortex vacuum) and rejuvenation (hi, skincare!), HydraFacial® is designed to deeply cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize the skin.

Used to treat skin concerns ranging from fine lines and uneven skin tone to acne and clogged pores, the professional treatment gently yet effectively resurfaces the skin and clears debris. The thorough cleanse allows the complexion to better absorb active ingredients and nutrients that might not be able to penetrate during an at-home exfoliating session.

Who Is the Best Candidate for a HydraFacial®?

According to professionals like board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Steven Pearlman, MD, HydraFacial® has universal appeal, though it is particularly useful for patients prone to breakouts. “The mixture of glycolic and salicylic acids added with the suction extraction system works extremely well to fight acne,” he shares. “Additional maintenance treatments keep it under control.”

When Should You Get a HydraFacial®?

While regular facials (think: once a month) may be recommended for patients with acne or other skin conditions, you’ll see results after just one session — making the HydraFacial® an ideal pre-event treatment. “Many times, people experience a 'purging' breakout after a facial,” Dr. Pearlman says. With HydraFacial®, post-breakouts rarely happen.” And, in addition to cleansing the complexion, patients enjoy a post-procedure glow that can last upwards of a month.

What Happens During a HydraFacial®?

The entire HydraFacial® process takes less than an hour. Despite the fact that a deep exfoliation is involved, the treatment is nothing short of relaxing. In fact, the gentle, pore-by-pore suctioning is as calming as it is satisfying. But there is more to a HydraFacial® than the vacuum-like device. Here’s a breakdown of the entire process:

  1. Cleanse: The skin is cleansed and prepped for treatment.
  2. Peel: A peel composed of 30 percent glycolic acid and 1.5 percent salicylic acid is applied to the skin to lightly regenerate the top layer of skin a la the type of superficial chemical peel you would normally expect at a doctor’s office.
  3. Extract: Dead skin cells are removed and the pores are thoroughly cleansed during the extraction phase. So, does the vacuum hurt like a traditional extraction does? The short answer is no, though there is a subtle sensation that I found to be non-abrasive and, actually, quite enjoyable.
  4. Fuse with Antioxidants: Fusing is not as scary as it sounds. To take full advantage of the detoxed skin, targeted, proprietary skin solutions in the form of serums and boosters are applied to the complexion to enhance the post-facial glow.

Though not an official step, my visit concluded with a slightly disturbing though highly satisfying visual component: a look at all the debris my face had been stockpiling. After examining the murky water, I knew that no matter how fool-proof I considered my skincare routine to be, there was no substitute for a professional treatment.

Can You Customize a HydraFacial®?

Yes, you can. At Pearlman Aesthetic Surgery, several add-ons are offered to maximize the benefits and the appointment can be combined with otherminimally invasive cosmetic treatments like Botox®, non-ablative lasers, and light therapy. Consulting with a board certified provider will ensure you undergo the best course of action for your skin concern(s).

The Results

In the immediate aftermath of my HydraFacial®, I knew my blackheads were eradicated, my skin texture was enhanced, and my complexion was slightly tingly in a way that only comes from a professional treatment. But, apart from the serum-induced glow and lightness that comes from taking an hour to #treatyourself, I wasn’t sure if I saw a noticeable difference in my skin.

In the days following the treatment, however, I came to understand the hype. I may have washed away the serums, but I didn’t wash away the glow. As I resumed my normal skincare routine, my products absorbed faster – though they felt somewhat superfluous. With the exception of sunscreen, I didn’t really feel the need to apply foundation or any other beauty products.

I can attest that the clarifying and radiance-inducing benefits last upwards of three to four weeks, and Dr. Pearlman says they are best maintained with routine sessions. He recommends patients come in once a month for maintenance. And, unlike other treatments that are better reserved for a certain season, the results of a HydraFacial® can be enjoyed year round.

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VIVIEN MOONis a senior editor at AEDIT.

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