Over the past few weeks, the Gritty Pretty team have put their bodies on the line testing out some of the most curious beauty treatments out there.
Think laser facials (lasers!), intravenous vitamin drips (needles!) and spirulina body wraps (green stuff!); procedures that generally strike fear into people but also generate a whole lot of fascination. They’re the treatments you’ve heard about – maybe even considered – but aren’t quite sure what’s involved.
So how did we go? Did we see any benefits? Would we do it again? Get the play-by-play of our investigation of the fix de rigueur below:
– Reviewed by Eleanor Pendleton, Editor & Publisher
Walking through the gate into Cosmos Clinic at Sydney’s Double Bay, I feel instantly at ease thanks to the leafy trees and stylish setting. In fact, the clinic looks more like a beautiful plantation-style home than a clinic for botox, boob jobs and vitamin injections. Personally, I’m here for the latter.
When I meet my clinical specialist, I tell her I’m not good with needles – I never have been – and she instantly makes me feel relaxed. We discuss what I want out of the treatment (over a cup of peppermint tea) and I explain I want my skin to be more hydrated and therefore glowy. I also tell her of the effects constant travel can have on my skin (in fact, the day after the IV drip, I’m set to embark on a 40+ hour journey to Switzerland).
I’m told I’ll be given a cocktail of Vitamin C, Vitamin B & B12 and saline. The potent cocktail of vitamins will be injected and delivered straight into my blood stream making them effective immediately unlike beauty products, creams and lotions which are applied topically.
TREATMENT: After our consultation, I lay down on a bed and get comfortable. The drip is wheeled over (the liquid cocktail is bright yellow due to Vitamin B2, BTW) and I’m warned that once the IV starts working, I may feel a slight chill (this is because the vitamins are stored in a fridge). The needle is injected (I turn away for that part) but I barely feel it – it’s more like a prick. What I do feel is the cold vitamins going into my blood. *Screws up face.
I’m told I’ll become rather thirsty during the treatment which lasts 25-30 minutes, which I do. I down a bottle of water almost without realising. After a while a dull ache begins to form in my bicep. The pain increases but if I’m honest it’s more annoying and uncomfortable than painful. Instagram serves as a good distraction as does thoughts of Chrissy Teigen who posted about her experience too (please make me look like her!). I’m left to enjoy my privacy and checked in on two or three times in between.
VERDICT: After the drip is removed, I feel a bit lightheaded standing up. After I collect myself, I’m told I can go straight back to work. The next day, I depart for a looooong flight to Geneva, Switzerland. During the flight, my skin looks good. And, I mean gooooood – even under those horrendous aeroplane bathroom lights. I tell myself it must be that Vitamin C, which assists with collagen and peptide production.
Once I arrive at my destination, I don’t feel an ounce of jet lag and as my travel group start falling down one by one over the next few days with a nasty flu, I feel as fit as a fiddle. The reason? I’m putting my money down on the IV.
THIS TREATMENT WOULD SUIT: Women who want the ultimate skin pick me up, assist with jet lag or want a direct hydration hit for both inside and out.
COST: The cost will vary from $120 to $500 depending on your needs.
– Reviewed by Wendy Hoang, Contributing Beauty Editor
The question I get asked most post-laser facial is how painful it is, so I’ll answer this at the outset: it’s more uncomfortable than painful; a 6 out of 10 (I’ve seen Deadpool), and like most physical pain, once it’s over you quickly forget how painful it was anyway.
Laser facials are for anyone wanting even skin tone, especially those with heavy pigmentation from sun damage. The laser cleverly picks up the colour (melanin) and brings it to the surface where it sort of “crusts off”, I’m told.
For this I went to one of the country’s best, Melanie Grant. Her treatments are bespoke, meaning she carefully assesses your skin type and modifies the laser settings or ‘modalities’ to suit. I’ve got Asian skin, which she explains is one of the more ‘at risk’ or sensitive types (same goes for darker-skinned women) so we go with the lightest setting.
PSA: Even skin tone doesn’t just happen overnight, just like pigmentation doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to reverse and often you’ll need five or six rounds. I’m told I’ll only need two (phew!).
TREATMENT: The treatment starts with a cleanse before the application of a cooling mask. Grant then starts the machine and incrementally lasers each section of my face, zapping it swiftly and systematically. It really stings around the jaw line and the area under my eyes (where there’s a swarm of pigmentation) and as soon as the laser-ing is done, Grant pops a hydrating cloth mask onto my face. I grab a quick peek in the mirror – my face looks fine, hardly red, but it does feel a bit raw at this point and it’s emanating heat. A round of Omnilux recovery light therapy follows (you won’t get this kind of TLC everywhere, FYI).
The instructions post-treatment are simple: don’t use oils (not for cleansing, not as a serum, nothin’), don’t exfoliate, don’t use anything with powerful active ingredients, basically don’t do anything I’d normally do for my skin. Just a gentle cleanser and moisturiser for the next five days while the laser continues to work its magic and my skin recovers.
Over the next few days I see incredible results: freckles and pigmentation I didn’t even know I had come to the surface and look darker, almost black. On days 3-4, the melanin starts to pixelate, breaking down and fading dramatically before my eyes (no crusting, though). Day 9 and my post-treatment glow starts to wane. I’ll have to go in for that second round soon.
THIS TREATMENT WOULD SUIT:
Women in their 30s or late 20s with heavy pigmentation from the sun damage or genetics. Not so good if you love your natural freckles. Make sure you go to someone reputable, too. Lasers are no joke (obviously) and you want someone like Grant who customises treatments to suit you.
COST: A Bespoke Laser Facial costs $550, including a round of Omnilux afterwards.
– Reviewed by Morgan Tait, Art Director
Walking into my body wrap treatment at Spa Q in Sydney’s QT hotel, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. After signing in and being whisked away to the change rooms, I slipped into my robe and to my surprise, before the treatment, I was able to sit, relax and unwind with a complimentary hot drink in a softly-lit room.
Then began my treatment, a spirulina body wrap. It was explained that the minerals, enzymes and vitamins from the spirulina algae (which is a protein-rich seaweed) would revitalise my skin and replace key nutrients that are lost throughout the day due to age and lack of moisture. The spirulina helps smooth, moisturise and tone the skin. Upon hearing the words “tone the skin”, I was in.
TREATMENT: I was given a full-body exfoliation to start so my all the minerals could be more easily absorbed into my skin. For anyone who hasn’t had a professional exfoliation done before, it’s a lot rougher than what you’d get at home with a DIY Frank body scrub. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s a serious scrub down. Next, a warm spirulina mask was applied to my whole body (even my face). The texture is comparable to thick mud. At this point, you might also be wondering about the smell, because if you’ve ever smelt spirulina, it has quite a distinctive scent. For me, it was pungent but bearable and all part of the treatment.
Once coated from head to toe in the dark brown spirulina algae mask, I was then wrapped in a thermal blanket with hot towels placed on top – the heat opens the pores to draw
the minerals into skin. For someone who isn’t claustrophobic, I did find myself thinking at this stage, “How am I going to get out?”. Then, naturally, your body just relaxes under the warmth and the time you spend resting (i.e marinating away) feels therapeutic.
VERDICT: After the treatment, which in total took an hour and half, I rinsed off at the spa and noticed my skin felt instantly smooth and tighter. The next day, there was a bit of initial redness on areas I hadn’t exfoliated before, but the week following I noticed my skin was reacting better to moisturiser, absorbing it quickly and completely.
THIS TREATMENT WOULD SUIT: Women who need a bit of R&R before or during winter (especially if your skin is on the dry side). Make sure you go to the bathroom beforehand and cancel any plans that night. You won’t smell or anything, but you’ll want to stay makeup-free afterwards.
COST: $245 for the body wrap, which includes a full body exfoliation, mask & wrap, and total body moisture massage.
Which of these treatments would you be keen to try?
Are there any weird and wonderful beauty treatments you’d like to know more about? Tell us.