HydraFacial 101: Benefits, Cost & What To Expect, From Experts
Some skin treatments are straight-up painful. Others cost upward of $1,000 or more. Some even take weeks to heal from—but HydraFacial is different.
So different, in fact, that estheticians often provide HydraFacials backstage before a fashion show, because they enhance any complexion instantly. And if you commit to regular sessions, the results just get better and better. Think micro-sized pores and baby-soft cheeks, topped by angelic radiance.
But are they worth the price? Below, we investigate. To come, a full breakdown of HydraFacial benefits, cost, aftercare, and a firsthand experience.
What is a HydraFacial treatment?
"HydraFacial is a multi-modality treatment that is performed using a device that simultaneously cleanses, exfoliates, extracts, hydrates, and infuses serums into the skin," explains NYC-based skin expert, medical esthetician, and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare Joie Tavernise.
It involves a wandlike tool that the facialist will glide over the face—usually doing a few passes.
The FDA-approved HydraFacial device was invented in 1977 by Roger Ignon, along with co-inventor Bill Cohen—two professionals looking to revolutionize the beauty spa industry. To be honest, the HydraFacial did just that.
It's essentially a 5-in-1 treatment that's relatively affordable, requires no downtime, only takes half an hour or so, and offers immediate results. Pretty impressive, no?
It's not comparable to something like laser treatment or microneedling but more so an elevated, high-tech take on a classic customized facial. Below, some quick facts.
|Regular cadence||Every 4-6 weeks|
7 treatment benefits
So, why invest in a HydraFacial treatment in the first place? Below, the main benefits, according to experts:
Clears clogged pores
"The tip of the HydraFacial uses technology similar to a vacuum to suck out dirt, debris, and excess oil from the pores," says Tavernise. This mechanism delivers skin that's instantly smoother to the touch (read: fewer closed comedones).
What's more, it can help prevent mini clogged pores from becoming full-on breakouts. It essentially targets pimples in the early stage and clears out problematic sebum, dirt, etc.
After a few treatments, you'll start to see your pores shrink more and more because they're not full of the "stuff" previously mentioned, Tavernise explains.
Boosts radiance via exfoliation
Right after your HydraFacial and for the following days, your skin will be noticeably more radiant. Part of this glow is due to the gentle yet highly effective exfoliation that takes place.
"The customizable tips for each HydraFacial treatment use a physical exfoliation to slough off dead skin cells and suck them into the satisfying 'gunkie' receptacle," Tavernise says.
This receptacle looks like a plastic tube with liquid and small particles floating around, which is what you may see after your appointment if your HydraFacialist shows you (gross but satisfying, nevertheless).
Hydrates & plumps
But you're not just exfoliating the skin, you're also enhancing skin hydration. While the exfoliating tip clears away the debris, an infusion mechanism pushes hydrating ingredients directly into your skin so it doesn't just sit on top like a serum might.
"The Vortex Technology infuses the serum into the skin to penetrate deeper and cause the skin to retain hydration," Tavernise notes. In turn, your skin will look more plump and full.
The exact hydrator you receive will depend on what your expert deems necessary. A few common ingredients include hyaluronic acid, peptides, botanical extracts, etc., but more on boosters in a bit.
Smooths rough texture
As mentioned above, LED light also plays a role in this multifaceted treatment that can utilize both blue and red light.
"LED light is a soothing, therapeutic step in the treatment used to calm and soothe the skin, aid in the production of collagen, improve firmness and elasticity, and target acne-causing bacteria," Tavernise notes.
Everyone has different skin and corresponding needs, which is why the customization feature of the HydraFacial is so great. There are plenty of different boosters you can get (a few of them listed here), and which one you receive depends on where your skin is at before the treatment and what results you're looking for.
Is your skin extra dry? They have a booster for that. Want a hefty chemical exfoliant treatment? They have a booster for that. Want to nourish the collagen in your skin? Yep, there's one for that as well.
Unlike some noninvasive treatments out there, the HydraFacial can adapt to whatever your skin needs at the time.
Provides instant results
Many skin treatments take three or four sessions to see results. Sure, it's worth the wait, but hey, instant gratification is nice sometimes, too.
Still, there are benefits to making HydraFacials a regular habit. "While even just one treatment can help, getting additional treatments can yield greater benefits," says board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, M.D., FAAD.
If you do start getting HydraFacials regularly, book an appointment every four to six weeks, or once a quarter if that's more convenient for you.
Works on the face, body, and scalp
Another perk: You can get a HydraFacial treatment on your scalp, too. This will be helpful for anyone focused on improving hair growth, clearing out product buildup, or someone who just craves a good scalp reset.
Or, if there's another area of your body you'd like to focus on like the chest or back, you can get a HydraFacial there too. Each expert will offer different accommodations, so check with your dermatologist or esthetician to see if they offer these supplemental treatments.
What to expect
Now you know why the HydraFacial is such a popular and adored treatment, so let's dive into the experience breakdown.
I paid a visit to Tavernise's New York City skin care studio to receive a HydraFacial and report back firsthand. Below, the breakdown.
Before my HydraFacial, I was dealing with some pretty stubborn skin texture in the form of super-tiny closed comedones all over my cheeks. My goal here was to see if the HydraFacial could help remove those tiny bumps and reveal a smoother texture.
As for skin prep, I decided to stop using my retinol serum for a few days before my appointment. I knew I was getting an exfoliating booster, so I decided to keep my prep routine focused on hydration and barrier strengthening.
However, this might not be necessary for each person, so ask your expert for specifics on how to alter your routine before the treatment if need be.
I arrived to JTAV Clinical Skincare wearing nothing on my skin but SPF. Once I was on the treatment bed, my esthetician started with a cleanser to remove the sunscreen and any possible buildup on my face.
My eyes were closed and covered with little papers to protect them from any flying ingredients because nobody needs salicylic acid in their eyes.
After that, it was time for the treatment. She whipped out the high-tech HydraFacial setup, complete with the active tip that would soon buff away my dead skin, along with the vials of exfoliating and hydrating boosters.
Then, the action started. I felt the pen touch my face with a sensation that can only be described as a mini vacuum cleaner sucking out all the gunk on my skin. It did not hurt in the slightest. In fact, I kind of enjoyed the suction-like feeling.
After the exfoliation meets extraction meets hydration part was over, I sat under the red and blue LED light for about 10 minutes.
At the end, my esthetician applied a hydrating serum, gel-like moisturizer, and sunscreen to my skin to protect my complexion on the journey back home.
My HydraFacial took about 45 minutes in total. It was super quick, surprisingly relaxing, and quite exciting because I knew my skin was going to be at its best for the upcoming weekend—and it was.
Because I had an exfoliating treatment, my skin was slightly red directly after the appointment. This flushing faded within a few hours, and my hyper-luminous, velvety skin was revealed.
The next day, I stuck with hydrating and brightening ingredients only, setting aside retinol and chemical exfoliants.
"Active ingredients will be well absorbed after HydraFacial's gentle exfoliation, so it's a perfect time to apply vitamin C and other brighteners," board-certified dermatologist and founder of MaeiMD Rebecca Marcus, M.D., FAAD, suggests.
For the week after my appointment, I got countless compliments from my friends saying I looked "fresh" or "radiant" or "glowing," so I knew the result wasn't so subtle that only I noticed it.
Shop my aftercare favorites
UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum
Allies of Skin
Molecular Barrier Recovery Cream Balm
Barrier Recovery Cream
Below, you'll find my before and after photos. As you can tell, the surface of my skin is noticeably smoother, calmer, and more hydrated than before.
Most of the tiny bumps are completely flat, others leaving behind a tiny red hyperpigmentation spot that will fade within a few weeks. In other words, a huge success for just one quick treatment.
Who it's best for & who shouldn't get it
So, is this treatment right for you? Chances are, you're a fit. If the following skin situations apply to you, find a HydraFacial expert near you:
- You're experiencing clogged pores.
- Your skin texture feels rough.
- Your skin is dry.
- Your skin looks dull.
- You can't tolerate intense chemical peels.
- You're looking for a skin treatment that's affordable.
- You have a big event coming up.
"Generally speaking, a HydraFacial treatment is safe for all skin types, but there are exceptions," says Tavernise.
"Those with a rash, sunburn, open wounds, and certain medications should avoid the treatment," she explains.
If you're unsure whether you should book an appointment, consult your dermatologist or trusted esthetician beforehand.
What does a HydraFacial do?
"HydraFacial is a multi-modality treatment that is performed using a device that simultaneously cleanses, exfoliates, extracts, hydrates, and infuses serums into the skin," explains NYC-based skin expert, medical esthetician, and founder of JTAV Clinical Skincare Joie Tavernise. The benefits include smoothing texture, hydrating the skin, and extracting oil and buildup from the skin to prevent future breakouts.
How long does HydraFacial last?
The results from a HydraFacial will last up to four weeks, which is why regular cadence is suggested every four to six weeks, depending on the client.
How many HydraFacials does it take to see results?
You can see instant results from one HydraFacial session. "While even just one treatment can help, getting additional treatments can yield greater benefits," says board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, M.D., FAAD.
All in all, HydraFacials are one of the best affordable skin treatments on the market right now. For those looking to smooth, hydrate, plump, and revive the skin, book a HydraFacial ASAP. If you want to dive into other facial options, check out this guide.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.