I used to think that machine-led facials were the domain of prima-donnas and aging narcissists. Now I am approaching my fifth decade, I can see the appeal. No surgery, no frozen expressions or trout pouts, no pain, no broken bank balance: just a little heat or electricity to stimulate a lift that seems so natural, people barely notice - except to say, "my, you look rather fabulous for your age".
So as Cameron Diaz and all the beautiful people wage a pro-aging selfie revolution, I (slightly guiltily) break feminist ranks to try the new anti-aging machine facial launched by French skincare giants Guinot.
Founder Rene Guinot invented the first skin care device using galvanic current in 1965, which became their standout, results-driven Hydradermie2 machine-led treatment, still hugely popular and admired.
In the ‘70s, current CEO Jean Daniel Mondin offered excusive Guinot treatments in his VIP rooms at the Hotel George V in Paris. Thus in a similar spirit, Guinot are launching their brand new Hydraderm Cellular Energy treatment (1hr £70) in the hip COMO Metropolitan London hotel. The Guinot team, based in Ascot, have commandeered a couple of rooms on the third floor just above Nobu to allow beauty editors (moi included) to have a go. They will also have trained therapists at the COMO Shambhala Spa by the end of the month to deliver the full range of Hydraderm Celullar Energy treatments.
So, how is the new Hydraderm Cellular Energy (HCE) different from the legendary Hydradermie2?
Keeping it as simple as possible(!):
Hydradermie2 uses Dual Ionisation: two electrodes with positive and negative currents. HCE uses Dynamic Ionisation, which means both electrodes contain alternating positive and negative currents to stimulate biological activity and speed up cell renewal.
Hydradermie2 uses high frequency, whereas HCE uses thermic energy through a heated element (between 38-48 degrees celsius) to increase the microcirculation bringing more oxygen to the skin and energy to the cells.
HCE also has a screen which plays a real time treatment to aid the therapist and allow her to perfect her technique.
Or, in layman's terms: the HCE has higher and more focused settings to give more dramatic results (better lift, brighter glow).
There's a choice of eight 60-minute tailored and targeted treatments – brightening, nourishing, hydrating, calming, balancing, lifting and anti-aging (wrinkles or sun), plus shorter or longer variations. Today I’m getting a 30-minute taster, which, my therapist Nicola assures me, will still produce a dramatic result.
The Guinot For Life Skincare Consultation is more in depth than most. Even though I am among doyennes of the beauty industry, I decide to be truthful about my ‘daily’ beauty ‘routine’: basically remove eye make-up, sleep, wake to find I haven’t entirely removed eye make-up which has now worked its way down to my chin, remove, reapply, repeat.
I do of course have facials for my job, but these are random and have varying effects, whereas Guinot treatments are focused on specific concerns with a view to long term care. Many of their clients book in for a course of treatments.
I am told my skin is dehydrated in certain areas, which makes the skin crinkle and sag. I always think this means that my skin type is dry, but Nicola says dehydration is different: it happens beneath the epidermis, on a cellular level, and affects/is affected by aging. My actual skin surface is not dry at all. Even though an anti-aging treatment would sort out the lines, Nicola thinks we should target my dehydration today.
She leads me to the next room where there is a treatment bed besides a stand with the HCE, a neat pod like a space-age lunch box. The rust coloured lid opens to reveal a screen, two small rollers which carry the electrical charge, and a thermal probe with its heated metal pad.
Nicola leaves me to remove my top and lie on the bed, covering myself with a towel. First she cleanses my face, and finds one spot to extract – (only one! Pretty impressive for someone with my beauty ‘routine’). She then massages in some cool oil and runs the thermal device over my lines and dry areas. It feels very comforting and I start to drift off.
Then out come the little metal rollers. Nicola says I might sometimes feel a tiny little charge of electricity over more sensitive areas. I feel nothing except the tiniest sensation under my nose, not remotely painful. These electrical charges stimulate the cell activity providing the ‘lift’.
Finally, various creams are applied and it’s over – a surprisingly relaxing and pleasant experience.
After, my skin is brighter, far healthier and so smooth I keep wanting to stroke it. The effect lasts a couple of days, and I feel it was pretty good compared to some of the best non-machine facials I've had: certainly impressive for a 30-minute taster.
I wouldn't say no to the full treatment. And now that I have the products Nicole suggested for my new, grown-up 'beauty routine', I may even consider posting my own pro-aging selfie ... (sadly the above picture is not it, although I'm sure Mr Spa Spy will say the resemblance is uncanny).