The More-Is-More, High-Tech Facials to Bookmark (for Your Complexion’s Sake)

Photo: Getty Images/ hedgehog94
When I first started booking facials, they were pretty straightforward: The esthetician would essentially slather my skin with a bunch of decadent beauty products, perhaps do some extractions, and voila—I'd be left with a glowy, hydrated, refreshed complexion. Lately, though? Facials have become multi-hyphenate experiences wherein the face is poked and needled and lit with LED lights to get a complexion boost.

"By combining multiple modalities into one treatment, practitioners can enhance their clinical results and help their clients take the stress out of self care by maximizing their time," says Stefanie DiLibero, founder of Gotham Wellness, a center that offers cosmetic acupuncture with add-ons like facial cupping, LED light treatment, and microcurrent stimulation. Facialist Ildi Pekar agrees, noting that "by utilizing effective natural techniques along with modern technology, we can provide results for common skin concerns and repair your glow with a customized nurturing experience."

I must admit I've had the thought during regular facials that I could mimic the same thing at home in my own bathroom—especially because facial steamers are so widely accessible. But because high-tech facials accelerate the the results you're looking for (which isn't exactly something you can do at home) I really feel like they're a good way to get bang for your buck. "Adding on extra high-tech machines can help you achieve an accelerated and more long-lasting result," says Pekar, who uses a plethora of add-ons from microcurrent machines (to tone) to oxygen therapy (to revitalize) and radio frequency (to tighten).

"Adding on extra high-tech machines [to a facial treatment] can help you achieve an accelerated, better, and long-lasting result." —Ildi Pekar

"Instead of just applying anti-aging products and massaging the skin to smooth out fine lines, we're stimulating the facial muscles with small electric currents to strengthen and tone the muscles to deliver a natural face lift," she says of microcurrents. Then there's LED light therapy, for example, which Pekar incorporates to "help repair skin damage and scars while killing bacteria, increasing circulation, and accelerating the healing process," she says, which is especially good for those who have acne and acne scars—moreso than merely topical products can do.

Elizabeth Trattner, AP, LAc, NCCAOM, a doctor of Chinese and integrative medicine, serves up facials that use facial rolling, gemstones, gua sha, acupuncture, and cupping for quite a robust treatment. "I think these add-ons are here to stay," she tells me. "These ancient modalities all have clinical efficacy to improving the face, relaxing fine lines, creating lymphatic drainage, and building beauty from the inside-out, which traditional facials can't do. Although simple facials are wonderful, women are looking to be the best versions of themselves."

Her treatments, for instance, involve ancient practices that have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for ages—like gua sha (known for lifting, sculpting, and lymphatic drainage), for example. "There's a collective yearning for tapping ancient beauty rituals married with modern beauty to create an all-encompassing experience," says Dr. Trattner. "Add-ons will soon be standard practice, and I believe as we move into the future we will be looking into ancient beauty remedies to keep us well aging."

So a facial treatment room that looks more like a lab at NASA than your standard cot with a shelf of beauty products behind it makes sense—there's science and technology behind these add-ons, which truly do more than surface-level skin care can do. If you're looking to take your facials to the next level, embrace the act of being prodded and cupped and sculpted—you'll see the difference.

If you're looking for more intel on some of these add-ons, here's why gua sha is the new cupping. And this is what it's like to get facial acupuncture.

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