Why HydraFacial Treatments Are Bad

HydraFacial treatments are more popular than ever but they might not be as good as they first seem! Here's why you may want to steer clear...

Author: Sam Pennington

Reading time: 5 minutes

What Is a HydraFacial?

The patented skin treatment HydraFacial is often also referred to as a hydradermabrasion facial, and a hydra therapy facial.

It is a type of crystal free microdermabrasion. This non-invasive skin care treatment buffs away the stratum corneum ( the top layer of the skin). The HydraFacial is a type of face exfoliator and acts to remove dead skin cells.

Rather than blasting the skin with fine crystals, like traditional dermabrasion, the HydraFacial takes a gentler approach using a vacuum to unclog pores. It also simultaneously pushes in potent actives.

It’s currently used to treat a range of skincare concerns including enlarged pores, clogged pores, wrinkles and breakouts. HydraFacials reportedly smooth skin and improve overall skin tone, as well as appearance.

HydraFacials have also been reported to provide instant and more dramatic results when compared to other facial treatments. This is due to the use of a combination of different extraction techniques.

As one of the most popular facial trends in the modern world, HydraFacial's popularity is still growing. Throughout this blog, we'll dive into why they're being praised, as well as the perceived benefits. We'll also explore what experts are saying about the treatment. Most importantly we'll answer whether the HydraFacial is dermoi approved.

How Does a HydraFacial Work?

The facial treatment involves using a patented device to deliver exfoliation, cleansing, extraction, and hydration.

There are 2 types of exfoliation at work with the HydraFacial. The first comes from hydradermabrasion and this uses an abrading tip. The second comes from liquid being blasted onto the skin.

The HydraFacial includes 4 separate treatments rolled into one.

Step 1: Cleansing and Exfoliation
This first step involves using a vortex cleansing and hydra peel tip. The aesthetician uses the HydraFacial wand to cleanse and exfoliate the skin.
Step 2: Facial Peel
Next, the aesthetician uses the wand tip to apply the facial peeling solutions. The aim of this step is to loosen pore debris and oil build-up through chemical exfoliation. HydraFacials use a non-irritating mix of salicylic and glycolic acids, which are generally gentler than other chemical peels.
Step 3: Vacuum Suction Extraction
Your aesthetician will then use a vortex vacuum suction to remove blackheads and impurities from your pores.
Step 4: Antioxidant Hydrating Serum
The treatment will end with the application of an antioxidant hydrating serum. The serum contains peptides and other beneficial nutrients which aim to not only soothe the skin after treatment, but also detoxify it by eliminating free radicals.

What Does the HydraFacial do?

HydraFacials are less abrasive than other forms of microdermabrasion, as well as being less invasive than traditional facials. These include chemical peels or laser resurfacing, which often leave skin irritated for days.

It's often difficult for serums to pass through our initial skin barrier when applied manually. Using hydrodermabrasion methods to apply serums can increase the penetration of skincare solutions.

When compared to other peeling techniques, hydradermabrasion comes with a reduced chance of complications and less chance of any skin bleeding. A HydraFacial treatment also doesn't require any local anaesthesia.

There’s also no downtime to HydraFacials. Other more invasive treatments leave skin red and irritated for days.

Unlike in standard microdermabrasion treatment, HydraFacials don’t use crystals to erode the skin’s barrier. As it's crystal free, there aren't health risks associated with the chemical crystals.

HydraFacial Clinical Studies

One study investigated the perceived benefits of hydradermabrasion with antioxidant rich serums.

The study aimed to determine whether hydradermabrasion could boost antioxidant levels in the skin. It tested 2 groups: group A had the serum applied using hydradermabrasion delivery methods. Group B on the other hand, had the same polyphenolic antioxidant serum applied manually.

Group A results showed:

  • Increased antioxidant levels
  • Greater decreases in signs of skin aging
  • Reduction of fine lines
  • Reaction of pore size
  • Decreased hyperpigmentation
  • Boosted collagen production
  • Increased epidermal thickness
  • Increased papillary dermal thickness

In group B, applying the serum manually made no difference to the skin’s condition.

A clinical test determined the effects of physically applying acids on skin pores and comedones during hydradermabrasion. Clogged hair follicles in the skin are what we call comedones.

The study found that during treatment whiteheads and blackheads significantly decreased when tested 1, 2 and 4 weeks after the procedure.

While this appears to be good news, the study didn't test on sensitive skin. Due to the abrasive nature of both the exfoliation, and skin peel, we wouldn’t recommend this procedure being carried out on sensitive skin.

What Experts Are Saying About HydraFacials

Gretchen Frieling, MD, board certified dermatopathologist in Wellesley, Massachusetts recommends avoiding receiving a HydraFacial treatment if you have an active rash, sunburn, or rosacea.

She also suggested pregnant women avoid the treatment.

Are HydraFacials Dermoi Approved?

HydraFacials use hydradermabrasion. While there's some evidence that hydradermabrasion can increase skin rejuvenation, and it is also milder than traditional microdermabrasion, hydradermabrasion is still an abrasive method that will compromise the skin barrier.

Hydradermabrasion combines chemical peeling and extraction. The treatment also includes multiple passes, so you’re not doing this just once you’re doing it 4 times. As a result of the multiple passes, there is extreme potential to leave people red, raw, and sensitive.

Due to the potential irritation caused we would NOT advise you have the treatment if you have sensitive, acne-prone, or rosacea skin types as this may make conditions worse.

For these reasons, HydraFacials are NOT dermoi.

- Eve Casha, Dermoi's Chief Scientific Officer

The Risks of Having a HydraFacial Treatment

HydraFacial side effects in the short-term include an immediate skin breakout. Many skin experts refer to this as 'purging'. This occurs as impurities in the deeper layers of your skin rise to the surface due to the treatment. The temporary breakouts often cause spots and whiteheads to appear across the face. This is something to note, if you wish to receive treatment prior to an event.

Furthermore, due to them being relatively new to the skincare scene, HydraFacial side effects in the long-term have yet to be determined. Resultantly, increasing worry is spreading among leading dermatologists.

Furthermore, thanks to their 'instant' skin rejuvenating effects many people are becoming hooked on the treatments, prompting many to undergo the treatments regularly. The amount of people having HydraFacials often once a week or more has skyrocketed in recent years, giving rise to seriously worrying adverse effects.

Many people who received a hydra therapy facial reported being left with broken veins, uneven skin, dark pigmentation spots and even acne, following regular treatment. Model Sophie Anderton also reported skin thinning following her use of salon beauty treatments.

Sophie was left with paper-thin skin which meant that when she exposed herself to the sun afterwards, she developed dark brown blotches all over her face. It took months of intensive treatment with specialist creams to get her skin back to normal.

- Andria Vassiliou, Founder of Cetuem Skincare

Is a HydraFacial Worth It?

HydraFacials cost on average between £150 and £250 in the UK. Is a HydraFacial worth the money? Our advise is no!

As we listed above, the short term effects of HydraFacial treatments can be very damaging. What's more, the perceived 'smoothing and hydrating' benefits only last for around 5-7 days.

In terms of the long-term effects, there is no evidence to suggest that they improve skin health. On the contrary, research and scientific guidance suggests that they may in fact cause permanent damage to the skin in the long term.

To summarise, we wouldn't recommend receiving a HydraFacial treatment. While there's some perceivable benefits, the risks go hand-in-hand. Furthermore, potential long-term effects of HydraFacials include skin thinning, uneven skin pigmentation and age spots.

Sensitive skin types, as well as those who have acne-prone skin should certainly avoid the treatment due to its potentially irritating nature.