They certainly don't call it the 'Dirty Thirties' for nothing. It's the best years of your life, they said. It's when the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place and everything makes sense and it gets easier, they said. While parts of growing up (okay, older) have been fun and games, I totally missed the fine print on how #InYourThirties, recuperating after a big night may take twice as long and three times as hard, or how very suddenly, one day, instead of waking up to sunshine and rainbows, you wake up with sprinkles of pigmentation on your face and a spanking new dry-skin condition shows up at your doorstep with a no return or refund policy - ah, the joys of adulthood.
But no siree, I wasn't about to surrender to my (skin) fate. So in my quest to keep these signs of ageing in check, I've kept up with my diligent skincare ritual at home, booking in a facial every two or three weeks but what I soon realised was, my skin was ageing faster than I - or my rituals - could keep up. That's when I decided to wo(man) up and face facts - normal facials were no longer working for my skin, I needed something more intense - stat.
I've heard and known of medical facials for a while now but have never tried them out because I assumed they were mainly for 'troubled' skin and there was nothing problematic about my skin - until now, anyway. And here's what I learned from Dr. Jason Yip of Astute Clinic on my journey to skin recovery:
Leave it to the pros
One thorough skin analysis later, the Doc was able to relate to me what my skin was trying to say all this time. It was quite severely dehydrated and my pigmentation problem was only second to the skin tags - sob - that are quickly developing on the sides of my face, which I would most definitely not have realised without a proper consultation. Along with a medical facial, I was prescribed a series of targeted clinical skincare products as my new homecare regime, with a follow up appointment after three weeks to chart my skin's progress.
So, what exactly is a Medical Facial?
Think of it as the more intense sibling to the spa-like facials and face massages you're used to. Efficacy is key so you can expect the use of sophisticated equipment and technology throughout various stages of the facial, along with the application of potent skincare for a highly results-driven experience.
What can you expect during a Medical Facial?
I had the pleasure of trying the clinic's best-selling medical facial - the Astute Premier Facial and here's what went down:
My fear of microdermabrasion demons from the past was quickly silenced - the aqua hydrodermabrasion step, which comes after double cleansing, was super gentle on my skin and the exfoliation tool works a treat to remove all traces of dead skin cells using a 'vacuum tip' (which also stimulates collagen). Blackheads, sebum, debris - you name it - were banished in swift suction motions, which I found wildly satisfying. Bonus: the tool also acts as an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory step in one, so your skin is treated and protected throughout the process.
This handheld tool is then used all over the face as a gentle massager-exfoliator to soften and dislodge blackheads via an ultrasonic sound wave vibration, prepping your skin for the next step.
My least favourite part of the process, is unfortunately also the most crucial. Credit to my therapist who worked tirelessly on the physical removal of my black and whiteheads. The levels of sensitivity varies for everyone, and seeing as my skin was highly congested, there may or may not have been some tears shed in the process - but the super smooth skin texture after was well worth it.
Life is good for me again post-extractions. This step infuses a potent mixture of anti-oxidants and therapeutic serums into my skin for intense hydration and brightening results.
LED Light Therapy
Similar to the Neutrogena LED Light Therapy Acne Mask (and its mixed reviews), this step - while crucial for reducing redness and inflammation - is not for everyone. The mask, which at times felt a little heavy and slightly uncomfortable on my face, emits a combination of red and blue light that speeds up the skin's natural healing process. That said, you can adjust the mask anytime and your therapist will do a trial run of the LED light options with you - I found the red light a little too strong (okay, blinding) for me and settled for the calming blue one instead.
Mask Lastly, the medical facial ends pretty much like a normal pampering facial, with an intense hydrating mask that soothes inflamed skin, restores moisture and promotes healing of the skin. In short, 15 minutes of pure bliss.
Medical facials just found a new fan in me. I try not to say 'at this age', but to be honest, if just like my skin, yours needs a little extra help, but you can't even bear the thought of fillers,needles and lasers, then turning to tools and technology in a facial is definitely the way to go.
And while I do not expect miracles in just one session, it certainly feels like this medical facial was working harder than most to fix my skin. I fully expected to wake up red-faced after the use of multiple tools and an intense extraction process but bar a few subtle dots, my skin was visibly refreshed, intensely hydrated and definitely brighter and suppler than when I walked in that morning.
That said, other spa-like treatments and facials using only manual massages - which is something that is not offered in this highly results-driven medical facial - will still have my heart, so I may switch things up by alternating between the two from now to enjoy the best of both worlds because, well, why not. Ah, to have my cake and eat it too - adulthood really isn't so bad after all.
Astute Premier Facial, RM488 for 90 minutes is available at Astute Clinic, DC Mall, by appointment only.