We Tried It: A Chemical Peel Without the Pain and Peeling

hydra facial

At-home supplement products to use with the treatment.

I tried a chemical peel once, and although the results were amazing, I would never do one again. Aside from the searing pain during the treatment (I seriously had to fight back tears by biting my lip), the peeling that took place for days afterward was so bad I never wanted to leave the house. Imagine leaning in to kiss your boyfriend and he pulls back, letting you know you’re peeling almost to the extent of leprosy.

But I must admit, the results were amazing. With fair skin, I suffer from blotchy redness everyday and a good foundation and concealer can only do so much. The chemical peel eliminated the redness for weeks. If I had gone for the recommended peel a month later, I could have reaped the benefits even longer. However, there’s only so much pain I’ll endure for beauty.

That’s where the Hydra Facial ($175-300 per treatment, hydrafacial.com) comes in. New to the market, it’s a physical and chemical peel that provides the results of an acid peel and microdermabrasion as well as using LED light therapy to eliminate fine lines and acne. Essentially, it’s a 30 minute treatment that jumpstarts your skincare routine with no pain or recovery time. Pretty much, it’s every woman’s dream.

The Treatment 
Unlike other facials where relaxation is a huge component, the hydra facial is all about getting it done as quickly as possible. I laid on the bed and the aesthetician got to work applying a cleansing serum to start with a clean canvas. For all of the serums used, they are applied using a wand that works like a suction cup to penetrate the products deeper into the skin than a normal topical application.

Then came the acid peel that removed any dead skin cells on the surface and evened out any texture problems. For those with wrinkles, the peel will also help to refine fine lines.

Step three focused on getting sebum (the skin’s natural oils) back on track. Without proper exfoliation a few times a week, the sebum can get clogged inside the pores, so you have acne and dry skin. I had both earlier this winter and it was the worst! The treatment infused Beta-HD into the skin making my pores appear smaller with a gentle suction opposed to the squeezing of the pores you experience in a traditional facial. That can get painful.

The last step involved adding hydration and antioxidants, such as vitamins A and E, white tea extract, rosemary extract and horse chestnut extract, back into the skin. Another option that I decided to skip: red light to reduce inflammation or blue light to kill P. acne bacteria.

Once the treatment was over, the aesthetician was able to show me the residue she extracted from my skin—the dead skin cells as well as the leftover serums are actually vacuumed into a tube that’s cleaned after each treatment.  Although I came in thinking my skin was pretty clean, the liquid had a light brown shade and there were bits of skin swimming around in it. Now that’s a wake up call.

The Results
Leaving the facialist’s chair, my skin was red and blotchy, but not any more than it would be after a long run. (Compare that to the chemical peel where my skin was so red I was embarrassed to get on the subway, keeping my sunglasses on for the tiniest bit of camouflage.) After a 15-minute walk, the redness had already gone down, revealing a subtle glow underneath. A week later, I haven’t seen one blemish, my skin is so hydrated I haven’t had to use my face oil and that subtle glow is still peeking through—although another treatment in the next month or so is recommended to keep the results coming.

The At-Home Products
The results don’t end with the treatment. The company has formulated at-home products identical to the serums used in the facial. The only difference is the products are applied topically with the hands, opposed to the suction. With three at-home kits to choose from—skin rejuvenation, age refinement, and oily skin—you can continue to personalize your routine at home.

No pain, no downtime, and instant results—this is one treatment I’m dying to try again.

Read more: We Tried It: The Organic Oxygen Facial