First-timers’ guide

From squeez­ing and freez­ing to peel­ing and needling, brave ed­i­tors take the plunge and try some­thing new. Here we tell all: how it feels, what it costs and whether it’s truly worth it

ELLE (Australia) - - Contents -

You’ve heard of these in­no­va­tive beauty treat­ments, but what do they re­ally feel like? And do they ac­tu­ally work?


❯❯ WHAT IT IS: Ultherapy uses ther­a­peu­tic ul­tra­sound to in­flict ther­mal in­jury up to 4.5mm deep in the skin of the face, neck and dé­col­leté to stim­u­late col­la­gen pro­duc­tion, which ta­pers off as you get older. If your skin is start­ing to sag, this “re­sets the clock with­out surgery – it’s the Holy Grail,” says New York fa­cial re­ju­ve­na­tion ex­pert Dr Wil­liam Kestin. In three to six months post-treat­ment, the in­creased col­la­gen causes the skin to tighten, plump and lift it­self back to elas­tic­ity lev­els from some era in your younger past. “You’ll wake up one morn­ing and say, ‘Wow!’” says Kestin. While the A-lis­ters do it yearly, he says the rest of us less fi­nan­cially blessed mor­tals can get away with wait­ing 18 months to two years be­tween treat­ments.

❯❯ WHAT I EX­PECTED: Be­cause I trust Kestin – of sev­eral doc­tors I’ve vis­ited for cos­metic der­ma­tol­ogy over the years, he’s al­ways done the best work – what I ex­pected was what he told me to ex­pect: put sim­ply, this was go­ing to hurt.

❯❯ WHAT IT’S RE­ALLY LIKE: Kestin was ab­so­lutely right – it hurt like hell when he ran the trans­ducer wand around my jaw­line and over the jowly parts of my face (my un­for­tu­nate fam­ily in­her­i­tance). The pro­ce­dure took about an hour, and even though I’d got my hands on a pre­scrip­tion painkiller be­fore­hand... did I men­tion it re­ally hurt? Alas, last month I de­cided to go back to Kestin and get Ultherapy around my eyes, fore­head and up­per lip. And that hurt even more!


❯❯ WHAT IT IS: Aimed at fight­ing the early signs of age­ing and restor­ing skin’s nat­u­ral glow, Clear + Bril­liant uses frac­tional laser tech­nol­ogy, de­liv­ered through a hand­piece. It’s from the mak­ers of Fraxel, but is a less in­tense treat­ment (per­fect for peo­ple in their twen­ties and thir­ties).

❯❯ WHAT I EX­PECTED: Hav­ing never tried laser be­fore, I was un­sure of what I was in for (and know­ing there was numb­ing cream in­volved made me ap­pre­hen­sive about the pain fac­tor). But I was hop­ing it would im­prove the tex­ture and ra­di­ance of my skin, which had been look­ing a bit dry and lack­lus­tre lately.

❯❯ WHAT IT’S RE­ALLY LIKE: Amaz­ing... but not en­tirely pain-free. Af­ter ap­ply­ing the numb­ing cream, the ther­a­pist at Syd­ney’s Skin Renu (skin­ fired up the Clear + Bril­liant laser, work­ing in lines across, then up and down each cheek, fol­lowed by the chin, nose, fore­head and neck. It felt like tiny pin pricks, with the un­com­fort­able ar­eas be­ing around my lips and hair­line. As the ther­a­pist went over each area, my skin also be­came in­creas­ingly hot­ter, but never un­bear­ably so. Once fin­ished, a se­ries of cold com­presses were ap­plied to re­duce the heat, be­fore I was treated to 20 min­utes of Om­nilux (to fur­ther calm red­ness and boost hy­dra­tion). The fi­nal part was an ap­pli­ca­tion of moisturiser and sun­screen (a vi­tal step since laser in­creases sun sen­si­tiv­ity).


❯❯ WHAT IT IS: De­signed to hy­drate the colon and clean it of waste and tox­ins, colon hy­drother­apy in­volves a small tube be­ing in­serted into the, ahem, you know where, and the colon be­ing filled with, and then flushed of, warm wa­ter. Dur­ing the flush­ing, a ther­a­pist mas­sages your stom­ach to help the process. The fil­tra­tion sys­tem is closed so there’s no smell and it’s all su­per hy­gienic.

❯❯ WHAT I EX­PECTED: I’ve al­ways wanted to have a colonic – I could talk about my di­ges­tive sys­tem all day. From what oth­ers had told me, I thought I’d leave feel­ing lighter, fresher, more clear-headed. As some­one who suf­fers from bloat­ing, I was also hop­ing to get some an­swers as to why, and how I can pre­vent it.

❯❯ WHAT IT’S RE­ALLY LIKE: How graphic do you want me to be? For the sake of the squea­mish, I’ll be vague – but if you ever run into me on the street, I’m happy to give you the full run-down. I vis­ited Al­ka­line Spa & Clinic in Syd­ney (al­ka­ where you lie on a bed, the tube goes in and a ther­a­pist is with you the whole time (so don’t be shy now). They watch what passes through the fil­tra­tion sys­tem – which you can also see – and can tell if you’ve got can­dida or fer­men­ta­tion, or if you eat too fast and have undi­gested food in there (guilty). It’s only un­com­fort­able if you have trapped gas bub­bles (from eat­ing too quickly or suf­fer­ing bad di­ges­tion) in your colon, but when the wa­ter is flushed out, there’s in­stant re­lief. The most dis­turb­ing part is the end: you’ll be di­rected to a toi­let for one last “move­ment” be­fore you make the trek home.


❯❯ WHAT IT IS: Bo­tulinum toxin type A, more com­monly known as Bo­tox, is the pop­u­lar neu­ro­toxin that, when in­jected in the face, will re­duce mus­cle move­ment and im­prove the ap­pear­ance of wrin­kles.

❯❯ WHAT I EX­PECTED: My face and I are ex­pres­sive. Like, bor­der­line Ace Ven­tura. Whether or not I’m in an ac­tual gym-go­ing phase, my eye­brows are al­ways get­ting a work­out, with my sig­na­ture move be­ing a dra­matic left brow raise. But wear­ing my feel­ings on my face for 31 years has earned me nearly a dozen hor­i­zon­tal lines on my fore­head, which make me look sev­eral years older than I ac­tu­ally am. A few shots of Bo­tox will chill out the mus­cles un­der­neath those rows and make me look my age again, I hope... or pos­si­bly like a frozen-faced mid­dle-aged cir­cus act. No mat­ter the re­sult, I vow to try it just this once.

❯❯ WHAT IT’S RE­ALLY LIKE: NYC der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr Robert Ano­lik agreed with my as­sess­ment that I’m ex­tremely ex­pres­sive and that Bo­tox could re­fresh my look. The fore­head lines, how­ever, were not his main con­cern. “You’re def­i­nitely de­vel­op­ing some creases at the cor­ners of your eyes, and you’re get­ting some creases right be­tween the eye­brows,” he said. “The deep lines in those ar­eas will make you look older or more tired or stressed. It’s nice to soften the fore­head lines, but you don’t want to freeze those en­tirely, be­cause then you’ll look com­pletely ar­ti­fi­cial. I want you to still be able to raise your eye­brows.” I hadn’t re­alised I was in the early stages of carv­ing out a coin slot be­tween my eye­brows, but I sup­pose this is the time to go the pre­ven­tive route. Give me the whole en­chi­lada, please, I told him. I de­clined the numb­ing agent, both in the in­ter­est of time and be­cause I wanted to know what it feels like to have tox­ins fun­nelled into my face via a tiny nee­dle. But the ac­tual in­jec­tions, of which there seemed to be about two dozen across my tar­get zones, were – glo­ri­ously – un­der­whelm­ing. Each prick felt about as painful as an eye­brow tweeze. As Ano­lik went to work, he ex­plained the me­chan­ics of Bo­tox: I may have mi­nor bruis­ing; I shouldn’t ex­er­cise, bend over or lie down for the next four hours; it will kick in in about a week; and it will last three to four months.


❯❯ WHAT IT IS: Fine, stain­lesssteel nee­dles are in­serted into the skin at var­i­ous points all over the body to re­lease block­ages in the flow of en­ergy and reg­u­late func­tion. It’s based on tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine and is a com­mon treat­ment for loads of ail­ments, in­clud­ing anx­i­ety.

❯❯ WHAT I EX­PECTED: That it would sting when those itty-bitty nee­dles slid into my skin, but that it would work – it wouldn’t have stuck around since an­cient times if it didn’t do some­thing. But I ex­pected slow­build re­sults, rather than a quick-fix.

❯❯ WHAT IT’S RE­ALLY LIKE: The thing with anx­i­ety is some­times you don’t re­alise how stressed you are un­til you talk it out with a stranger. When I went to Bet­ter Bal­ance Chi­ro­prac­tic (bet­ter­bal­ancechi­ro­prac­, Dr Rick Sch­led­erer spent much of the first con­sul­ta­tion ask­ing me ques­tions about my life and jot­ting down notes (which of course I was cran­ing to see). He’s also a chi­ro­prac­tor and ki­ne­si­ol­o­gist, so he then did some di­ag­nos­ing about what might be ail­ing me by push­ing on an out­stretched arm as he asked ques­tions. Some­how my body gave away things I didn’t even say. Then he popped the nee­dles in from head to toe, and was out the door. I was alone with my nee­dles and my thoughts for 15 min­utes. I fought the temp­ta­tion to get up and get my phone for the first 10 min­utes. Dur­ing the last five, I gave into the con­cept and (al­most) en­joyed the seren­ity.


❯❯ WHAT IT IS: Platelet-rich plasma – or as any self-re­spect­ing Kar­dashian fan would know, the “Vam­pire Fa­cial” – uses platelets from the pa­tient’s own blood (in­jected like a filler or dis­persed via mi­cro-needling) to kick­start the body’s re­gen­er­a­tive pro­cesses and en­cour­age skin re­pair.

❯❯ WHAT I EX­PECTED: To say Kim’s blood-smeared face freaked me out would be an un­der­state­ment, and I ar­rived at Syd­ney’s Privée Clinic

( slightly ter­ri­fied, imag­in­ing I’d have to stop the ther­a­pist mul­ti­ple times due to the pain. Wor­ried I might also bruise, I de­clined all week­end plans. But I was keen to give the pro­ce­dure a go in an at­tempt to treat my eczema, which wouldn’t clear up de­spite ex­treme diet, skin­care and life­style changes.


Clinic di­rec­tor Natalie Abouchar be­gan by ex­tract­ing a vial of blood from my arm (this was prob­a­bly the most painful part), and the blood was then spun in a cen­trifuge to sep­a­rate the plasma. As the blood spun, I got a brief Om­nilux treat­ment – so far, I was very re­laxed. Next came the numb­ing cream, then the mi­croneedling. While I could feel a bit of pres­sure, there was no pain. My skin was then mas­saged with the “Liq­uid Gold” (my plasma), trig­ger­ing col­la­gen and elastin pro­duc­tion, plus cell re­gen­er­a­tion. I was out in less than an hour and while my skin was quite red, it cleared up overnight.


WHAT IT IS: A three-minute ses­sion in the Cryosauna (which cools down to about -140°C) is said to boost me­tab­o­lism, fire up en­dor­phins, flush tox­ins, re­lieve in­flam­ma­tion and as­sist mus­cle re­cov­ery.

WHAT I EX­PECTED: That it would be colder than an Antarc­tic blizzard. And since it’s reg­u­larly used by athletes and mo­ti­va­tional speaker An­thony Robbins, I fig­ured it’s prac­ti­cally an ex­treme sport – some­thing to be en­dured only by tough guys (of which I am most def­i­nitely not).


En­ter­ing Cryo ( is a lit­tle like walk­ing into an episode of The Jet­sons. Au­to­matic slid­ing doors lock you se­curely in a booth so you can strip down to knick­ers and a robe while a video plays de­scrib­ing what you’re about to do. I put on socks, gloves and furry an­kle boots (to pro­tect ex­trem­i­ties) and then stepped in­side the Cryosauna. A ther­a­pist was with me dur­ing the en­tire length of the (up to) three-minute treat­ment. Aside from dis­tract­ing me from the fact I was pro­gres­sively get­ting cold AF, she was mon­i­tor­ing me for any med­i­cal signs that would sug­gest I’d had enough. The cold (and ni­tro­gen mist) came in short bursts, and oxy­gen was pumped into the room to en­sure I was still do­ing plenty of the whole breath­ing thing. It was cold, yes, but I never felt like it was too much. I’ve prob­a­bly been colder on a night out in Mel­bourne.


WHAT IT IS: IV ther­apy in­volves ad­min­is­ter­ing a vi­ta­min cock­tail in­tra­venously, by­pass­ing the di­ges­tive sys­tem so cells ab­sorb up to 90 per cent of the nu­tri­ents, some of which you’d miss out on if taken orally. This par­tic­u­lar treat­ment is paired with skin-bright­en­ing Om­nilux light ther­apy, so you get both in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal ben­e­fits.

WHAT I EX­PECTED: My col­leagues wimped out when they heard the al­leged se­cret to more en­ergy, brighter skin and in­creased im­mu­nity was an in­tra­venous vi­ta­min C-in­fused drip, but I’m about as will­ing a ther­a­peu­tic guinea pig as you can get (al­though I draw the line at group ex­er­cise). I tried to go in with no ex­pec­ta­tions, in­stead see­ing it as an op­por­tu­nity to tick a box off my beauty bucket list.

WHAT IT’S RE­ALLY LIKE: I was ly­ing on a treat­ment table, ner­vously an­tic­i­pat­ing the pinch of the nee­dle, when Duquessa ( owner and nurse prac­ti­tioner Kather­ine Mil­lar-shannon told me I have “shitty veins”. The au­dac­ity! No, ac­tu­ally it’s my own fault, be­cause I didn’t eat a big enough lunch or drink enough wa­ter be­fore­hand and both are im­por­tant for get­ting veins ripe for the prick­ing. The IV even­tu­ally took, as long as I kept re­ally, re­ally still. The treat­ment lasted about 40 min­utes; the liq­uid felt cold go­ing in and, strangely, there was some shoul­der pain on the same side, but a heat pack eased the dis­com­fort. I was told I might feel heav­i­ness in my chest; my asthma kicked in but it was noth­ing a few puffs of my in­haler couldn’t fix.

WHAT IT IS: The body wave is a chem­i­cal treat­ment that prom­ises to cre­ate un­done, loose waves. Think of it as a milder, gen­tler ver­sion of the ’80s perm.

WHAT I EX­PECTED: I was af­ter a change that could take me men­tally where my bank ac­count could not: the Amalfi Coast! The Mediter­ranean! Any­where ex­otic! So I found my­self at the hair salon, armed with pho­tos of Gre­cian-god­dess waves – hello, Amanda Seyfried in Mamma Mia! – and prep­ping for my first-ever perm. To be clear, I know ab­so­lutely noth­ing about hair­care. I’ve never owned a hairdryer, I get the same three­inch trim ev­ery time and my stub­born, pin-straight hair has never suc­cess­fully held a curl. I un­loaded my list of ques­tions on New York hairstylist and perm ex­pert Mairead Gal­lagher. Do I need a dif­fer­ent sham­poo? Where do I at­tach the rec­om­mended dif­fuser? Can I bid adieu to fly­aways and frizz? Gal­lagher brought me back to earth, eye­ing my head. “It’s still your hair. You’ll have to main­tain it like you nor­mally do.”

❯❯ WHAT IT’S RE­ALLY LIKE: Af­ter wrap­ping my hair in vary­ing-sized rods and cir­cling my hair­line in cot­ton coils, Gal­lagher ap­plied the chem­i­cals and a dou­ble layer of shower caps, then set me un­der a heat lamp for 12 min­utes. (In the bad old days of “per­mol­ogy”, you’d have to cook for at least an hour.) Af­ter a quick rins­ing process to re­move the perm lo­tion from the hair and close the hair cu­ti­cles, my curls were locked in.

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