PSA: it gets bloody.
Despite a relative obsession with expensive beauty lotions and potions, I’d previously been yet to dip my toes (or should that be nose?) in intensive skin treatments. However, since becoming engaged in January this year, I’ve developed an appetite for researching where to all things glow-inducing.
A Vampire facial involves a combination of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and skin needling designed to increase collagen and elastin production, and with celebs like Kim Kardashian West spruiking the treatment, it was at the top of my list.
So I headed to Cosmetic Image Clinics within Aquarius MediSpa on Mary Street in Brisbane, and in the hands of one of their qualified practitioners and registered nurses Lauren, I was numbed up for the treatment and given the run down on what would be happening. My biggest skin issues pre-treatment was a rough, uneven complexion (damn you days of sunbaking at 17), some loss of elasticity (damn you 30s), and visible pores in my t-zone which resulted in an obsession with Ten-O-Six toner (anyone else remember that stuff?) between the ages of 13 and 16. My research prior to this moment had consisted solely of YouTube videos, so I knew some of the steps I would be undertaking, but not all of them. I knew there’d be blood, I knew there’d be needling, and I knew there’d be a fresh complexion at the end of it – or at least I hoped.
While waiting for the numbing cream to take effect, Lauren commenced the first step of the Vampire Facial. If you’re squeamish, or have an issue with needles, this may not be for you – two to three vials of blood were drawn from my arm then taken away to be put into the centrifuge to isolate the plasma. The plasma (often called liquid gold) is rich in growth factors and has been used by doctors to assist in injury recovery with athletes.
After waiting about 30 minutes for the numbing to take effect and the plasma to be separated, it was time to start the facial.
Relocated into the treatment room, Lauren started to smooth the plasma onto my face. Feeling much like a cold serum on my now-numb face, I was ready for the micro-needling to begin. Starting on my forehead, Lauren began the process of micro-needling allowing the plasma to penetrate my skin. I was hesitant at first, but I needn’t have been – first contact was largely painless, and it continued to be for all of my face. The needle itself has varying degrees of depth – from 1 to 2.5 millimetres – and my positive response meant that Lauren felt comfortable enough to take it up to two. This process took about 30 minutes, and I found it so relaxing I could have fallen asleep. ‘Easy!’ I thought, ‘how bloody tough am I?’. But I soon discovered I was not bloody (yet), and the true test of my toughness was still to come.
While some practitioners stop here, many practitioners will pair the micro-needling with other plumping or rejuvenation treatments. Aquarius suggested pairing it with a beauty booster to smooth out wrinkles, restore volume and enhance glow, and I was happy to oblige. A formula of hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and amino acids was injected into my skin via a device called a Vital Injector: nine tiny little needles in a gun-like machine that was used to perform actions similar to ‘stamping’ all over my face. This process again lasted about 30 minutes, and did hurt more than the first treatment and was the only time blood was produced.
By the end of it, my skin was looking and feeling sunburnt with bruises developing on my chin and under my eyes. While bruising is a possible side effect, it’s not experienced by all who undergo the treatment.
Lauren gave me some aftercare advice (no makeup until the following day, wash face with water only or a very gentle cleanser like Cetaphil, apply some Hirudoid cream on my bruises) and sent me on my way. A tip: since you’ll be walking back to your car sans makeup post-treatment, pack yourself a pair of sizeable sunnies so you can make the journey incognito. Hey, vampire in name, vampire in nature, right?
Within a few hours, I was still red and bruised, but the burning sensation had completely disappeared. My skin felt tight though (not unpleasantly so), and I kept thinking I was wearing a mud mask and had forgotten to wash it off.
By day two post Vampire facial, there was no pain and all of the redness had gone, but my skin was now flaking and my bruising was in full effect. I continued to wash gently, and made sure to moisturise with a gentle moisturiser. By day four, my skin was starting to look refined, plump and positively glowing – apart from the pesky bruising.
By day six, the bruising had all gone, and my skin was seeing the full effects. Most noticeably for me, I experienced refined pores, less oil production, a completely clear complexion in terms of no pigmentation and no spots, and skin that felt incredibly silky. By day 12, my pores were still refined and I wondered if my life-long obsession with minimising my pores was now over.
It was a couple of days before I was able to leave the house in daylight in complete confidence but when I did, my skin looked like it was back from the dead. The results can last a few months, but for best results, an initial protocol of three sessions, and maintenance sessions two to three times a year are recommended.
Would I do it again? Yes – but it does come at a cost. At $500 for the Vampire Facial, and $695 for the Beauty Booster, it’s not cheap. If you’re someone who doesn’t do well with blood, then this isn’t for you. But, if you’re someone who understands pain is beauty and you’re looking for a facial that produces a plethora of positive effects, then you may want to sink your teeth into it.
Cosmetic Image Clinics, within Aquarius Health MediSpa
Level 2/70D Mary St, City
P 3009 5111 Cosmeticimageclinics.com.au