It seems beauty researchers go to the ends of the earth, leaving no stone unturned, when it comes to discovering the best new formulas and techniques. It can be daunting to sift through the seemingly endless wave of new products and cosmetic treatments that are introduced to the market each year. From live snail facials to vampire facelifts, some can seem downright zany, but many are based in well-tested science and centuries-old practices found across cultures. ELYSIAN spoke to leading industry experts about five increasingly popular beauty trends that might sound unconventional but have been shown to demonstrate real results.
Snail Facial Treatment
In Chile in the 1980s, a curious thing started happening to farmers handling escargot en route to France: their hands began looking younger and smoother. It wasn’t long before then that snail slime found its way into creams and elixirs in South America, a trend that was soon picked up by the beauty-forward Korean market before it reached the mainstream US market about five years ago.
Snail mucin contains a potent combination of nutrients — all known beauty enhancers — that do everything from fade dark spots and scars to plump creases and battle acne.
High-end cosmetic companies, such as RéVive and Peter Thomas Roth, have released new products containing snail extracts, and spas and doctors’ offices in the US are starting to feature facials with the mollusk secretion as well (more palatable versions of the live snail facials gaining popularity in Korea and Japan).
In New York City, Park Avenue plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Schulman offers The EscarGlow Facial® that repairs the skin and stimulates collagen and elastin production. This $300 treatment combines concentrated extracts of the snail slime with micro-needling to increase the product’s penetration.
24-karat Gold Facial
They may be all the rage now, but 24-karat gold facial products have been used for cosmetic purposes since ancient times in India, China, the Far East, and beyond. In Egypt, for example, it is believed that Cleopatra used a gold mask every night to enhance her complexion and keep her skin youthful, glowing, and beautiful.
This precious metal, known to improve blood circulation, aids in maintaining the skin’s moisture level. When applied, small particles of gold are absorbed, transmitting a rich glow and leaving the skin healthy, fresh and radiant.
In addition, gold facials are also known to reduce wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots; stimulate skin cells and promote elasticity; prevent premature aging of the skin; slow down collagen depletion; and treat sun damage, skin allergies, and inflammation.
Georgetown Allure, a new spa in the DC-metro area, offers the “GT Gold 24K Facial,” which uses 24-karat gold flakes in an anti-aging, collagen-boosting serum which is applied and allowed to sit for five to ten minutes, before it is removed using a tissue-wrapped magnet.
There are also several 24k gold-infused masks available for at-home use, ranging from the Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Mask ($80) to the Adore Cosmetics Golden Touch Magnetic Facial Mask ($1,000).
Geisha facials are also known as the Nightingale facials. Why? Because the key, active ingredient in these facials is uguisu no fun — powdered nightingale droppings.
The nitrogen-rich natural enzymes and guanine found in these droppings help brighten, heal, and retexturize skin, all while imparting a pearly luster to the skin. The nightingales are fed on a special diet of seeds and berries, making their droppings organic and vegan as well.
The origins of this treatment traces back to 17th-century Japan. Geisha women, educated and skilled in music, dance, and poetry, were known for their beautiful porcelain skin. However, the face powder they used to achieve their pale, unblemished complexions contained zinc and lead, which caused chronic skincare problems. That was, until the discovery of a natural remedy: nightingale dropping facials.
Celebrity master-aesthetician Shizuka Bernstein is credited with reviving this ancient beauty secret and creating the Geisha Facial®, offered at her Shizuka New York Day Spa in Midtown Manhattan for $180. In addition to the droppings, which are sanitized by ultra-violet light before being milled into a fine powder, the Geisha Facial® also incorporates natural Japanese ingredients, such as green tea, sake, rice bran, and pearl protein, to brighten and cleanse the skin.
Vampire Facelift & Facial
Vampire facelifts and facials are known — in less shocking terms — as Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapies. Both use the patient’s own blood (usually one ounce, extracted from the arm) to rejuvenate the face; growth factors already present in the blood stimulate collagen and replace volume and can be used in conjunction with dermal fillers to enhance the results of the procedure.
The Vampire Facelift® typically refers to deep, or under-the-skin, injections of PRP, which work at the stem cell level, telling the body to grow new, younger skin. This offers a way of both restoring shape and improving tone and texture.
The Vampire Facial® usually refers to a topical application which, in many cases, begins with micro-needling after which the PRP is applied topically and absorbed deeply into the skin.
The cost of these treatments ranges from $100 – $2,500 with an average cost of $1,100.
Fractionated CO² Laser Treatment
Fractionated CO2 laser treatments are being hailed as the future of facial cosmetic surgery. Unlike the older traditional CO2 lasers, which removed about 0.3mm of the entire skin surface and took much longer to heal (leading to increased risk of infection, post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation and scarring), this newer treatment can remove skin at deeper levels while leaving a fraction of the surface skin to help heal the treated area much quicker. Best of all, in most cases, only one treatment is necessary.
This new generation of high-powered resurfacing treatments targets sun-damaged skin, fine wrinkles, blotchiness, age spots, and scars from acne or other causes. Its effects are similar to those of chemical peels and dermabrasion, except that the laser removes skin layers by vaporization rather than with chemicals or a sanding device.
Fractionated CO2 lasers work by delivering customized levels of heat deep below the skin’s surface, removing the damaged outer layer. This stimulates collagen production and new skin cells in the underlying layers, bringing about a smoother, younger and healthier-looking appearance. There are three modalities for this treatment: “focused” for cutting skin without bleeding, “defocused” for superficially removing skin, and “ultra-pulsed” for facial resurfacing.
The downtime is only about five days, but it is necessary to be vigilant about sun protection after the procedure so that damage does not recur. Full face treatments range from $1,500 to $3,000.