I Tried the Buzzy HydraFacial—Here’s Why It’s Totally Worth

Skin-care trends ebb and flow. Microdermabrasion, facial yoga, and LED light therapy have all had their time to shine in the last decade, but there’s one treatment we can’t seem to escape no matter how many shifts the industry sees: The famous HydraFacial, which has continued to reign supreme as the “it girl” of fancy facials.

Like you, I’ve heard plenty about the legendary HydraFacial from friends and coworkers—how hydrating it is, how clean it leaves your skin, how it feels like spring water is being infused into every pore—but unlike Beyoncé and Britney Spears, I hadn’t ever had one myself. So on a trip to the serene Salt Spa at the Reeds in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, I decided to check it out. And as skin-care amateur (at least, compared to most of the beauty buffs I know), I can confidently say that this heavenly facial is way worth the hype.

What is a HydraFacial?

The HydraFacial is a patented 30-minute treatment delivered by an ~official~ HydraFacial device, which is powered by water pressure. The esthetician who performed my treatment, Ashane Wilson, calls it “the only non-invasive way,” to quickly get all the gunky stuff out of your face while nourishing your skin at the same time. The machine works by simultaneously sucking dirt and debris from your pores while infusing serums deep into the surface of your skin, giving you double the benefits in 30 minutes flat.

Compared to other popular treatments, like dermaplaning or chemical peels, the HydraFacial is gentle and (mostly) sensitive-skin friendly. “This is completely different [than anything like microdermabrasion],” says Wilson. “It extracts and hydrates at the exact same time. You’ll feel suction and moisture simultaneously… It’s life-changing.”

Can confirm: It is life-changing. It’s no wonder why so many people swear by it for decongesting and shrinking pores, smoothing fine lines, and evening discoloration.

What happened when I tried it

Step 1: Cleanse

Before Wilson broke out the HydraFacial device, she began the treatment by double cleansing my face with her hands using  Skinceuticals Gentle Cleanser ($36). This ensured that she was clearing away all of the day’s buildup (sunscreen, makeup, dirt, etc.) so she could perform the treatment on a clean canvas.

This step is pretty straightforward—Wilson just massaged the wash into a light lather across my face, then wiped it off, wrapped me with a warm towel, and repeated the process for a second time. Very relaxing.

Step 2: Double exfoliation

Next came not one, but two rounds of exfoliation. Wilson started by moistening my complexion with steam to “loosen everything up.” Then, she used Hydrafacial’s vacuum-like device—which was infused with a Skinceuticals antioxidant serum—to slough my skin. It felt nothing like traditional exfoliation. Instead, it was as if a wet little Dyson vacuum was being run over my pores, sucking the gunk out of each one with an audible “pop.”

“Every 28 days you have new growth on your skin… this concoction encourages new growth and speeds up the healing process,” Wilson explained as she suctioned my face. She repeated the process twice, and it was really in the second pass across my face that I felt it lifting away my surface-level dead skin cells and cleansing my face.

For the second exfoliation, Wilson layered my face with an alpha-hydroxy acid-based chemical peel to clear away any remaining dead skin cells  (Note: if you’re pregnant or could be pregnant, you’ll want to skip this part).

Step 3: Infuse + Extract

The final step in the process delivers a one-two punch of extraction and hydration, and according to Wilson, is really when “all the good stuff” happens.

In this phase, the Hydrafacial vacuum goes into overdrive, sucking up gunk while simultaneously delivering skin-enhancing serums deep down into your pores. Wilson focused the treatment on my T-Zone, where my pores are the largest, then hit me with another chemical serum. This time, it was a beta-hydroxy acid formula, which got deep down into my pores to clear away any remaining dirt and debris.

When Wilson was done extracting and infusing (which took about 15 minutes), she swiped my skin with Skinceuticals’ B5 Hydrating Gel ($86), a hyaluronic acid serum that’s so quenching, she says it can replace your day cream. Then, she topped me off with a layer of the brand’s Triple Lipid Restore Moisturizer ($136), gently massaging it into my skin with her fingertips to lock in the facial’s moisture.

After she was done, I felt as if my skin had just drank a Big Gulp of fresh mineral water, and it was divine. 

Photo: Francesca Krempa

The cleanest, most pure my skin has ever felt—ever

When something gets as heavily hyped as the Hydrafacial, I’m always skeptical of whether or not it’s just a fad. But believe me when I say this facial is worth every penny: My skin has genuinely never felt softer, smoother, or glowier than it did after my first HydraFacial.

It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but the treatment left my complexion noticeably dewier and more even, and my redness and dark spots were far less visible than they were when I walked into the spa. Even my mom, who knows nothing about skin care, paid me a compliment an hour after I received it, saying my skin looked “so healthy.”

Suffice it to say, I will be getting HydraFacials from here on out. Although expensive (prices range from $150-$400), they’re a game-changer for instantly refreshing your face in just a half hour. Looks like the hype is right after all.

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