I have enjoyed my fair share of relaxing spa and cosmetic facials. From simple treatments that focus on hydration to more advanced therapies that tackle first signs of ageing, my complexion has been put through some of the best skincare products and facial massages around, but I have never taken that next step into the realm of medical facials.
Perhaps it was the fear that I might have to undergo something invasive or a general discomfort around needles, but I just didn’t feel my skin ever needed anything that advanced in my 20s. However, now I’m in my 30s I do feel that my complexion needs a little health boost on a deeper level, something that prompts collagen production and banishes any early sign of ageing and pigmentation. It’s time to explore the possibilities of a laser facial and see if I can achieve that foundation-free skin.
“I think women are more concerned today than ever about skin health,” says COO of London-based Skinfluencer clinic, Sharin Shafer. “We see women of every age and skin type, and they universally ask for healthy skin that glows. The three big issues that women universally want to address are tone, texture and laxity. A woman can have unwanted pigment, large pores, acne scarring or laxity. We can even it up, smooth it out, and tighten your skin.”
What appealed to me about Skinfluencer is its focus on skin health and minimum intervention. The flagship is located in the well-heeled neighbourhood of Chelsea in London, just down the road from Kensington High Street. The stylish boutique space is intimate and welcoming, not what you’d first expect when visiting a space that offers medical-grade treatments. Recently opened, it’s the brainchild of Texan-born Shafer who spent many years living in Dubai and has 30 years of experience in a corporate environment, first as a senior manager and director at Ernst & Young and then as the Chief Operating Officer for multinational companies – safe to say she knows how to build a successful business that puts the client first, and swears by ‘On Another Level’ treatment.
“I always wanted makeup-free skin, and as a woman in my 50s, I value aesthetic treatments that faithfully help to maintain a naturally youthful appearance and which liberate me from wearing heavy makeup to cover my melasma and other imperfections,” Shafer explains. “I was intrigued by the advancements in energy-based skincare technologies and aesthetic techniques; and I saw this as an opportunity to standardise treatment protocols that offer unrivalled results, but with a spin. I wanted to offer these treatment protocols in luxury boutique settings and duplicate the concept in key cities around the globe. So, I took my experience as an executive in corporate America and married it with my vision to create a world-class global skincare destination brand. Wherever in the world, you may be, if you walk into a Skinfluencer clinic, you will walk out with great skin.”
I met Shafer on my first visit, and I can tell you now that this well-groomed and stylish businesswoman does not look 50. I’m was sold instantly.
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Your first appointment is an in-depth consultation to establish skin concerns and put a plan in place. I met with Gigi Shakar who has spent 30 years making the skin of the New York’s finest look it’s very best with minimum effort. “Our aestheticians and doctors have a minimum of ten years of experience, and then must go through ‘Skinfluencer U’ before they are permitted to treat clients,” explains Shafer. “Our technology is the best in the market. Other top aesthetic clinics may have one ‘hero’ technology, whereas at Skinfluencer we have at least three of the world’s top technologies under one roof, including the Cutera Enlighten III, the Fotona Dynamis Pro, CoolSculpting, and the Cutera Secret RF. This allows us to combine and layer energies to achieve unparalleled results.”
After doing a patch test, Gigi recommended three appointments at four weeks apart to allow the skin to respond and heal. We settled on a combination of two treatment protocols, ‘Glow, Baby, Glow’ and ‘Gone in a Flash’. These treatments do not require topical numbing and had virtually minimum downtime apart from a few days of redness and skin peeling. She used Skinfluenced by the Cutera Enlighten III and Cutera XEO Limelight IPL, and combined energies such as Pico and nanosecond laser energy, as well as patented infra-red and green modalities that feature intense pulse light energy. The energies safely and effectively target vascular pigmentation, sun damage and photodamage. The light energy clears away any congestion to tighten the pores, stimulate collagen production as well as cell renewal to address the fine lines around my forehead.
My first appointment kicked off with a quick cleanse and then we proceeded with the laser that targeted the deeper levels of the skin to target pigmentation and closed down those pesky pores. The sensation can be described as tickly static shock you sometimes feel when you place your hand on an escalator. It wasn’t as unpleasant as I imagined. Then we went into a separate room for a laser peel which focuses on the top layer of the skin. It’s a heat-based procedure which felt a little more intense, but bearable – Gigi mentioned that I won’t feel it as much the second time around – and we even went over the lips to nudge any dead skin. Then we tackled the tiny pointless veins around the nose area as well as other parts of the face. This was probably the most uncomfortable part of the whole session as it was a targeted collapsing of the veins and felt like a rubber band being snapped against the skin. Luckily, this didn’t last long and after a quick extraction session, I enjoyed a cooling mask that soothed some of the heat that I could feel from the peel. An hour later we were done and I walked away with a simplified skincare routine which now only involved cleansing, a serum, cream with a tiny bit of retinol and SPF.
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The afternoon after my treatment, my skin felt like it was on fire and I had to use a cooling mist from Caudalie to calm it. The next three to four days the top layer of skin was peeling off in places but it was crucial for me not to pick at it to avoid damage. My complexion felt a little dry but by the end of the week a sense of hydration returned and I was impressed to see how much my fine lines have diminished on the forehead.
I’m not just ready to give up my concealer but I have stopped applying foundation and am looking forward to the next appointment where we will be targeting more of the redness. For now, I’m using ZO Daily Sheer SPF; ZO Hydrating Cleanser; Teoxane RHA Serum® hyaluronic acid for hydration; ZO Daily Power DefenceTM to moisturise with micro-dose retinol; ZO Invisipeel® overnight masque once per week for exfoliation which have all received high praise from Gigi – and if you would’ve seen her skin up close, you would’ve snapped up all these products too.
Skinfluencer is located on 307 Fulham Road London, Chelsea SW10 9QH. For more information email LDN@skin-fluencer.com or call +44 20 7352 3575.
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Images: Instagram, supplied