I've seen chemical peels go so wrong that coworkers had to take days off work to let their skin heal. My own eyes have shed a few tears during that abysmal extraction portion of a basic facial. We're told time and time again that "beauty is pain" and "no pain no gain," to the point that it's almost ingrained in our minds that if something isn't going to make us wince and break into a cold sweat, then it's simply not working.
Because of this, I had my own doubts about the HydraFacial MD, a buzzy new treatment popping up in med spas everywhere (and hyped by celebrity beauties such as Kate Winslet and Amy Poehler). HydraFacial MD has made its bold claim to fame as a gentle, painless, noninvasive treatment with powerful results.
Gentle? Noninvasive? That sure sounds nice, but could it really be enough to transform my always-dry and acne-scarred skin?
I arrived at Sente Bella Med Spa in the Marina District of downtown, a full medical and day spa owned by former San Diego Chargers player Legedu "LA" Naanee and Erin Battle. Esthetician Domonique Guerra greeted me with a smile and a basic questionnaire, then sat me down for a full consultation to address my skin concerns, A-to-Z.
The actual HydraFacial MD machine is reminiscent of something you might see in a dental office. Small tools connect to a very futuristic contraption by tubes which, in layman's terms, sucks out the bad stuff and shoves in the good stuff. In spa speak, it's the HydraFacial's "Vortex Fusion delivery system" that removes dead skin cells while simultaneously immersing the new skin with hydrating and moisturizing serums. A computer screen glows on top, showing the ordered steps of the process to both the trained esthetician and client.
As I settled into the relaxing room and closed my eyes, Domonique began the four-step process. First up, an exfoliating and cleansing tool removes dead skin cells. It felt like a baby vacuum gliding over the skin, totally painless and even a little ticklish at times. Step two uses a mixture of glycolic and salicylic acids applied for the benefits of a peel, without that post-peel sting. I sensed just a small tingle as the device touched over my face in quick, feathering motions.
Step three of the facial is the extraction, which as I mentioned earlier, is typically my least favorite part. Not with the HydraFacial: The vortex-suction literally sucks out clogged pores with a vacuum like sensation, minus all that cringe-worthy pinching. Basically, a steam carpet cleaner was handling some serious stains in there. Step four provides a serum application to protect the skin with antioxidants, peptides and hyaluronic acid.
I felt like a human car wash, but in the best way. Getting a med spa facial is the difference between washing your car at home and getting a detailed cleaning. Major upgrade.
While there are regimented steps in the process, the HydraFacial MD treatment is fully customizable for diverse skin types. You can add brightening treatment to target dark spots, address fine lines and wrinkles, add a more aggressive peel (such as a 30% Glysal peel) or add a decollete and neck HydraFacial enhancement. Because Sente Bella is a medical spa, they can offer more aggressive peels and treatment solutions than a regular day spa.
I returned to my office after my experience sans makeup - a rarity for this Sephora Beauty Insider. I noticed the instant results: added hydration, smoother, plumper skin and that unbeatable glow. No blotchy red marks or inflammation made it easy to snap back to "real life." In fact, many of the celebrity users claim to hit the red carpet on the same day as their HydraFacial routine.
It certainly wasn't an overnight cure and my scars and dark spots didn't magically disappear, but Domonique advised that most of her clients return once a month. The best part for a working woman? The treatment can be completed in as little as 30 minutes.
DiscoverSD reader exclusive: Visit sentebellaspa.com to enter to win a free HydraFacial MD treatment.
Sente Bella Med Spa
Address: 220 W. G Street, downtown
Phone: (619) 235-6865
Price: $179 for 30 minutes
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