As a blogger, I’ve gotten to experience all sorts of incredible things- from covering Fashion Week in NYC, to traveling around for events and launches. But this time was the first time I showed up to something nervous. Like sweaty nervous. It was because I knew that I’d be leaving slightly bloody with a story to tell. When Heather Okimoto, the Publisher for Denver Style Magazine and I came up with the idea of un-doing summer skin damage for their fall issue we knew that this would be the perfect treatment to experience and report. After all, it is one of the most popular skin treatments Googled ever since Kim Kardashian posted her own bloody selfie receiving the treatment a few years ago. Everyone wants to know what it is, what it does, and most of all how does it feel? I snapped some pics throughout my treatment so you know exactly what you’re getting into. Spoiler alert: It’s really not that bad..
In full disclosure: I received the treatment with a very discounted rate from Alchemy Face Bar for the article. Their owner Bre Morris is a friend so I actually selected her Denver location knowing that Rachel Bacon RN, BSN would be administering it. I didn’t know Rachel, but trusted Bre knowing she has the best staff and her 2 locations are super busy and legendary for their $45 facials.
What Does a Vampire Facial Do?
It rejuvenates and creates new, healthy skin. collagen is associated with wrinkles, acne scars, scars, large pores and stretch marks. Microneedling is used to poke tiny holes in the skin which signals your body’s healing response to actually make new skin (lasers do the same), which is how you get new, glowing, healthier skin to appear. the benefits happen over the course of a month or so while the new skin develops. The PRP that’s extracted from the blood (below) is used as a serum that’s brushed on as the microneedling takes place so that it’s better penetrated and can add growth factors that are so much more beneficial to the skin’s healing and rejuvenation.
What happens during a Vampire Facial?
You begin the treatment like you would a facial. My skin was washed and prepped before applying a thick layer of numbing cream. I’ve had micro needling and laser treatments in the past where my skin did not numb which is partly because I metabolize things quickly. I let Rachel know that this was the case, but she assured me that because she works directly under a doctor who provides a top grade numbing cream, this wouldn’t be the case. Luckily, she was right.
Next, she drew my blood- enough for a vial. This is why it’s so important to have a nurse or MD doing this part. It’s really scary when you’re dealing with blood and contamination especially when you read stories like THIS one where clients at a spa in New Mexico were exposed to HIV due to unsanitary practices from a vampire facial. Yuk.
Next, the blood is spun into a centrifuge for a few minutes to separate the PRP, or platelet rich plasma from the red blood cells. That yellowy serum on top is all that’s used for the facial. The rest is disposed of, the red blood isn’t what’s being smeared all over your face although that’s what you would guess by looking at the photos. What’s beneficial is the PRP which stores all of the growth factors which act as energy boots for the skin helping the skin to function better overall and increases collagen and elastin. It enhances the microneedling treatment giving it an improvement in effectiveness.
Now I’m numb. Like really numb which is great. I was dreading going through this because of the pain but once the needling started, I could only feel some pressure but nothing painful. Rachel uses the gold standard in microneedling and the only FDA approved needling device, the SkinPen, which is a handheld pen with tiny needles on the tip that quickly moves up and down creating tiny micro channel stamps across the skin. (This is what causes the bleeding contrary to the belief that it’s the blood drawn from your arm which is the yellowy serum not not red blood.) I’ve had other microneedling treatments before which barely left my skin red. One had very short needles that were less effective and the process was just so different. With the SkinPen she’s able to adjust the needle length as she goes, shorter for the nose and forehead, longer for the cheeks and more fleshy areas to make sure she’s wounding the skin (that’s the whole point) without going too deep and hitting bone. Now that I’ve used both, this is the only treatment I’d ever use.
Right after you’re red and bloody but still not in pain. When the numbing cream wore off much later I wasn’t in pain then either. She applied a hydrating sheet mask to calm some of the inflammation and redness.
I’ve seen some photos with people right after that were glowing and went to lunch, but this was me post-procedure looking completely terrifying of course. I had actually planned grocery shopping right after and was going to do it anyway but remembered that Sex and the City episode where Samantha got a peel before Carrie’s book launch and made everyone there nauseous so I skipped it.
I’m booking today for another SkinPen treatment. I’ll do a vampire once or twice a year to add some extra benefit, but the actual needling is where the bulk of the benefit comes from. I’ll post after photos when I see Rachel again, but I can see fading of acne scars and better texture. I was wearing foundation and mineral (powder) foundation over that, but now I use just a little concealer and mineral powder over top.