When it comes to skin care, I’m typically a pretty low-maintenance gal — but with my wedding fast approaching next June, I’ve started stepping up my game. And with my pores seemingly getting larger by the day, my overall complexion looking increasingly dull, and fine lines popping up left and right, I decided it was finally time to try one of the most buzzed-about beauty treatments out there: the HydraFacial.
HydraFacials have become the gold standard of skin treatments. By pairing microdermabrasion-like exfoliation with ultra-hydrating serums, the patented treatment can yield dramatic results with zero downtime. No wonder everyone from Beyoncé to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton is on board.
The treatment can address a wide variety of conditions, from dryness and dullness to wrinkles and fine lines, and they can also be customized to fit your specific skin type and concerns — making them great for practically anyone. “I recommend the HydraFacial to anyone looking for brighter skin with a smoother texture,” says Gina Hernandez, an esthetician at G2O Spa + Salon in Boston. “This pore-refining treatment gives you an instant glow.”
So, does it live up to the hype? Below is my honest review of the HydraFacial.
- Price: $150-$300
- Best for: Improving texture, tone, and overall appearance; anti-aging
- Your rating: 5/5
- What we like: Instant and long-lasting results, no downtime and few side effects, suitable for sensitive skin and all skin tones
- What we don't like: Pricey
What Is A HydraFacial?
The HydraFacial is a multi-step skin treatment that incorporates four key components to deliver a glow: a deep cleanse to remove dead skin cells and other pore-clogging debris; exfoliation via a mild peel; pore extractions; and an application of customized serums meant for hydration and antioxidant protection.
Your esthetician can adjust this process based on your skin type and concerns. For example, if you have a lot of blackheads, they might spend more time on cleansing — whereas if your top priority is addressing fine lines or texture issues, they might focus more on the exfoliation stage and use a higher-concentration acid for the peel.
How Does The HydraFacial Work?
The HydraFacial is actually a machine with a handheld device attached to it. Over the course of the treatment, the provider uses a variety of different attachments on the device, each of which has a specific purpose. This medical-grade wand does it all: It can simultaneously dislodge and vacuum gunk out of your pores while also infusing your skin with nutrient-packed serums. For an extra cost, certain add-on services can also be incorporated into the HydraFacial — think dermaplaning (aka face shaving), lymphatic drainage massage, and LED light therapy.
While there’s still limited research specifically on the benefits of HydraFacials, a small 2008 study shed light on their potential for reversing signs of skin aging. The women who received the treatment saw more dramatic decreases in hyperpigmentation, pore size, and fine lines compared to those who just used serums alone.
Another perk? According to Rodriguez, the benefits of a HydraFacial can last at least a month or more. She recommends getting one every four to eight weeks for best results. “After a HydraFacial, the best way to lock in the benefits is to drink lots of water, continue hydrating the skin using serums and moisturizers, and using SPF,” adds Rodriguez. “I would also recommend waiting a few days before starting any exfoliating treatments.”
My treatment began with a cleanse to remove any lingering sebum, makeup, and dead skin cells. While it’s not necessarily included in most HydraFacials, I opted to incorporate dermaplaning into my treatment to shave away the top layers of my skin. Rodriguez noted that removing additional peach fuzz and dead cells this way helps prep the skin, allowing it to better absorb all the nourishing serums later on. FWIW: I highly recommend adding this step, if only for the satisfaction of seeing what a scalpel can take off your face.
Another step I added is lymphatic drainage, which entailed using a handheld device that delivered gentle suction and vibration to massage and drain my lymph nodes. According to Rodriguez, this can help depuff the skin and even ward off breakouts — and may also be helpful for people with seasonal allergies or sinus pressure.
Next, Rodriguez applied a gentle exfoliating acid peel to my skin to loosen debris from my pores, which caused a light tingling sensation. She then used a spinning spiral tip on the device to vacuum out blackheads, dirt, oil, and other impurities. Note: If you’ve ever experienced the torture of manual extractions, these will feel like a breeze in comparison — just some light pressure and suction.
With all of the intensive steps out of the way, it was time to hydrate and protect my complexion. At this point of the facial, Rodriguez applied a variety of masks and “boosters” to help plump my skin, smooth out the appearance of fine lines, and enhance elasticity. These included ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin B5, peptides, and antioxidants
Before the final step, Rodriguez placed an LED light therapy mask over my face. This therapy uses specific wavelengths of light that are believed to stimulate the production of collagen while destroying breakout-causing bacteria and reducing inflammation. A 2014 study found that LED light therapy can significantly improve skin complexion and roughness, as well as boost collagen. After that, Rodriguez sealed in all the goodness by applying a variety of SkinCeuticals products: the Triple Lipid Restore, an anti-aging cream; Hydrating B5 Gel, Discoloration Defense, a spot corrector; A.G.E Eye Complex for dark circles; and Hydra Balm for the lips. Et voila.
The first thing I noticed after glancing in the mirror was how my skin seemed to glisten, and how soft and smooth it felt — in fact, I couldn’t stop running the back of my hand over it. If you’re into the glass skin or glazed donut trend, you’ll be very pleased with your results from a HydraFacial. I didn’t even need to use a highlighter for my post-facial glow. (Seriously — even my fiancé noticed my radiant skin, and that says a lot.)
Upon looking more closely in the mirror, I noticed that the pores on my cheeks and forehead did appear much smaller, and the blackheads on my nose had vanished. And some of those pesky fine lines I previously had between my eyebrows were nowhere to be found.
Even the next day, my skin still looked so luminous that I resisted putting makeup on before a Zoom sesh with my bridesmaids.
Who Should Avoid The Treatment?
Rodriguez notes that the treatment isn’t ideal for those with active acne breakouts or rashes.
Even though I have relatively sensitive skin, I had no issues during or after the HydraFacial. In fact, I didn’t even notice much redness afterward. That said, if you’re allergic to specific ingredients or just have super reactive skin, let your provider know beforehand so they can take that into account when customizing your treatment.
Gentle yet effective, I’d say just about anyone can benefit from the occasional HydraFacial. I was impressed with the visible improvements in my skin texture and brightness immediately afterwards, and considering I have sensitive skin, I was also pleasantly surprised that I didn’t notice any redness or other side effects.
Whether you’re looking to shrink your pores, achieve a smoother canvas for makeup, or even out the texture and tone of your skin, this treatment delivers instant results. It should cost a billion to look this good — but TBH, $200 is a bit easier to swallow when you’re balling on a budget.
Freedman, B. (2008). Hydradermabrasion: an innovative modality for nonablative facial rejuvenation. J Cosmet Dermatol. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19146604/
Wunsch, A. (2014). A Controlled Trial to Determine the Efficacy of Red and Near-Infrared Light Treatment in Patient Satisfaction, Reduction of Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Skin Roughness, and Intradermal Collagen Density Increase. Photomed Laser Surg. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3926176/
Gina Rodriguez, licensed esthetician at G2O Spa + Salon