Do-it-yourself anti-aging treatments have probably been around since the invention of the mirror. Even though it seems our society is more obsessed than ever with looking youthful, the desire for smooth, unblemished skin is hardly new. What’s more, the ever-evolving search for all-in-one skin care treatments sparks trend after wrinkle-erasing trend.
Consider that a spa in Japan started offering snail facials a couple of years ago. Yes, live snails leave mucus trails across the faces of patients. The claim is that snail slime is actually an elixir composed of proteins, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid that keeps skin soft and wrinkle-free.
Most facial skin care trends aren’t quite so unusual, and most actually offer some proven benefits. Face steaming, for example, is an at-home treatment that’s generated a considerable amount of buzz recently.
Face steaming is a fairly simple treatment that uses dried herbs doused with boiling water in a small bowl. Put your face directly over the bowl with a towel draped over it to trap the soothing steam, which is promoted as a natural alternative to harsh exfoliating treatments. Not surprisingly, organic facial steam packsare available.
Facial steaming is also touted as an effective treatment for acne because the moisture helps trigger the process that frees dead cells, dirt, bacteria, or anything else trapped in the skin that might be causing breakouts.
But it may do more harm than good for people with severe acne and may trigger flare-ups for women and men with rosacea.
Another buzzworthy anti-aging treatment is the oxygen facial, which day spas claim can replace microdermabrasion and other skin-smoothing procedures with none of the stinging, itching, or burning that can sometimes accompany those procedures. Of course, those side effects occur because of the effectiveness of those treatments, while oxygen facials offer only short-term benefits.
The truth is that gentle, non-medical treatments should be seen as part of an overall skin care regimen that includes daily and weekly steps in addition to periodic visits to a medical spa operated by a board-certified specialist such as a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
That’s because chemical and laser peels, laser skin resurfacing, and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments produce results that can’t be matched with at-home treatments.
“Chemical peels can be tailored to different intensity levels that produce more or less dramatic results and require different amounts of downtime,” says the website for Cosmedica, a Burlington med spa and plastic surgery practice that serves patients from Oakville to London. “The Level 1 and Level 2 ZO chemical peels are meticulously regimented skin treatments that address a variety of skin conditions using a customized chemical mixture.”
For basic skin care, a hydra facial (which is essentially what face steaming is, plus some herbs) isn’t going to do any harm for most people. But if you’re interested in getting a handle on acne, tightening your skin, eliminating puffy under-eye bags, or having a litany of other specific conditions addressed, you’re probably better off finding a qualified specialist.