If aliens were observing human beauty regimens, they would likely come to the conclusion that we’re all a little masochistic. After all, these hypothetical alien beings have witnessed us scraping metal blades against our skin, plucking out hair by the roots, or even yanking it out all at once with scorching-hot wax.
They’ve seen us scrub, tug, spray, and needle our bodies – all in the name of self-improvement – and the only logical conclusion they could possibly draw is that humans are crazy about suffering in the name of beauty. In the past few years, several beauty treatments have surfaced that sound as scary as they look: microneedling, vampire facials, the list goes on. However, they also happen to be very effective at improving and rejuvenating the skin, as well as helping us achieve that coveted supermodel glow.
Although they may seem extreme, they happen to be far less terrifying in practice than they sound, with short recovery periods and long-lasting results. If you’re ready to enter the world of paramedical beauty treatments (that’s what the industry calls them), explore the ins and outs of microneedling, vampire facials, dermaplaning, and chemical peels below.
Covered in hundreds of tiny, extremely sharp metal spikes, microneedling rollers look like instruments of torture – and, in a way, they are because they literally create microscopic punctures in the skin. Microneedling is a controversial treatment, mostly because it is unregulated for home use and therefore poses a danger. Because the needles create actual punctures in the skin, instruments that aren’t sterilized are prone to spreading infections, causing injury to blood vessels, and irritating the skin.
However, microneedling is a very effective form of boosting collagen, improving skin elasticity, and encouraging hair growth. In fact, a study conducted in 2009 found that four microneedling sessions over four months produced a 400 percent increase in collagen and elastin. Instead of investing in an at-home microneedling roller, it’s best to leave this practice to the professionals who are guaranteed to professionally clean their rollers and trained to get the best results. Added bonus: studies have proven that your skincare products will absorb and penetrate much more effectively after microneedling sessions.
If you were to march into your aesthetician’s office and ask for a vampire facial, they might be puzzled by your request. That’s actually the colloquial name for the Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) facelift, made popular by Kim Kardashian after she posted a bloody picture of her procedure. Also, it notably is not a facial, but a face lift. This paramedical beauty treatment is not for the faint of heart.
First, your practitioner will draw some of your blood and place it in a centrifuge to separate out your platelets. Then, the platelets are “activated” and injected into your skin via a microneedling roller. Yes, it is painful, but most of the discomfort occurs after the procedure, while your skin heals from the needling. However, a PRP face lift is tremendously effective at rejuvenating the youthful appearance of skin, mostly because of the benefits of the stem cells found in your own platelets. These stem cells stimulate new blood vessel formation and cause new collagen to form, which makes sagging skin look plumper and smoother.
Thanks to Huda Kattan, shaving the face was instantly de-stigmatized from something that “just men do” to something that every woman should make part of her routine. A smooth, hair-free face means that your products and makeup will go on smoother and stay on longer. However, regular old blades don’t cut it (no pun intended) when it comes to the delicate act of facial-hair removal. Dermaplaning – or the technique achieved by scraping a small, precise blade across your skin – takes away pesky peach fuzz and sloughs off dead skin cells.
Celebrities like Hailee Steinfeld and Lily Collins swear by dermaplaning, and you can safely administer it yourself at home. First, you have to ensure that your skin is clean. Experts recommend that you cleanse and tone with a natural antibacterial product like witch hazel. Second, you must pull the skin, stretching it taut. Finally, with short and feathery strokes, gently scrape away the hair. It’s easy to overdo it and irritate the skin without meaning to, so make sure you don’t go over the same area too much. Dermaplaning is safe to perform every six weeks.
Fans of Sex and the City will no doubt remember Samantha’s horrifying experience with a chemical peel, and you’d be forgiven if that episode put you off the idea of trying one forever. While her results were hyperbolic, a clinical-strength chemical peel can put you (or at least your face) out of commission for a few days while you heal, but that’s something you can easily prepare for. While it may seem like harsh chemicals are the last thing you should be applying to your delicate skin tissue, peels are a non-invasive way of reducing the appearance of scars, sloughing off the years, rejuvenating the skin, and achieving a next-level glow – but they aren’t exactly pleasant.
Most people who undergo chemical peels report itching and peeling for three to five days after the treatment, but there are different kinds of peels with different intensities, so try something light like the SkinMedica ‘Illuminize Peel’ kit if you’re squeamish. Moderate to strong chemical peels should be administered by a professional, while mild chemical peels can be done at home with much quicker recovery time, but less noticable results.