I'M NOT exactly low-maintenance when it comes to my skincare.
I double-cleanse in both the morning and evening, have barely watched an episode of Love Island without being ensconced in a sheet mask (much to the horror of my housemate when she walks in the room), and know my hyaluronic acid from my Huda Beauty.
But my well-hydrated jaw dropped when Sandra Bullock recently revealed the secret of her clear, youthful complexion.
No, it wasn’t a £200 cream or even the painful-sounding vampire facial beloved of Kim Kardashian and Victoria Beckham.
The Birdbox actress, 54, revealed on the Ellen DeGeneres Show that she is a fan of “penis facials”.
Please politely pull your mind out of the gutter, because we’re not talking that. It may be more accurate to say that it’s actually called a foreskin facial which, to be honest, doesn’t make it sound much less weird.
Well, it’s meant to fight ageing, even out pigmentation, reduce scarring, brightening up dull skin and soothe adult acne. Nice.
And there must be something in it because Kate Beckinsale (who deemed it “amazing”) and Cate Blanchett (“smells a bit like sperm”) are fans too.
You know pins and needles in your legs that persist for hours? Well, that happened to my face
Let's be honest, I wouldn't say no to their non-existent pores. They have been making regular trips to New York City-based facialist George Louise Atelier.
In the name of good skin (I have a tough job), I visited Young LDN to see what all the fuss was about.
Their colourful, cutting edge salon also offers the likes of a ‘CBD Facial’ and ‘Acne LED Facial’ so I knew I was in innovative hands.
As Roxanne the beautician reassured me, the magical formula that is delivered to their salon in scientific-looking vials are no longer directly derived cells of a baby’s foreskin from South Korea (only because that's where the creators happened to be based). Just inspired by. Thank goodness, I squeamishly think.
In fact, it is technically known as the Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) Facial.
According to their website it uses the “progenitor cells of the human fibroblast taken from baby foreskins” and “these growth factors are then re-produced and mimicked in the lab and put into a serum” to “boost collagen production and elastin development”. Yep, me neither, but it sounds positive.
Not your average consultation room ? We designed a space that isn’t clinical and makes you feel at home when talking about your skin concerns.?Plus, all consultations are free with no obligation, so why not pop in and see what we can do for you? ?♂️
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The 90-minute treatment begins with a consultation during which I was told my face would need to be numbed to make the microneedling as “comfortable as possible”.
For the uninitiated, this is where a group of needles, tightly packed onto an electronic device, are used to cause ‘trauma’ to your skin, triggering it to ‘reheal’ and ‘rejuvenate’, and also allow serum applied on top to be absorbed as deeply as possible.
Roxanne started by smearing numbing cream on my face and warned me it would “tingle”.
I won’t lie, the repeated ‘puncturing’ of my face wasn’t exactly pleasant
You know pins and needles in your legs that persist for hours? Well, that happened to my face.
The EGF solution was applied in circular motions and I couldn’t help but think what a historical figure like Cleopatra would have thought if she knew centuries we were massaging baby foreskins into our faces for eternal youth.
Given her penchant for bathing in the milk of 700 donkeys, she’d probably have been quite up for it.
The lack of being able to feel my cheeks distracted me so much that when she turned round and said, “I’m going to start off with the 0.5mm needle depth but we can go up to 2mm if you like?” I barely batted an chilled-out eyelid.
But because my skin is of the sensitive type – and at age 26 I don't yet have much sign of fine lines and wrinkles – we stuck to a maximum of 1mm. Phew.
Within a week, the skin on my forehead was smoother and more hydrated
I won’t lie, the repeated ‘puncturing’ of my face wasn’t exactly pleasant – scaling my forehead, eye area and particularly my chin, to tackle acne scarring (you’d need a few sessions to get rid of deep scarring – but it can do this too).
Roxanne said some clients “enjoy” the sensation, and I sort of see where they’re coming from. No pain, no gain and all that.
To finish she applied an SPF 50 packed with nourishing-sounding glycoproteins, K complex and Vitamin C and E to protect, soothe and repair the skin following the treatment.
What is a foreskin facial?
- It is technically known as the Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) Facial (or a 'penis facial' to some).
- The treatment is inspired by progenitor cells of the human fibroblast taken from baby foreskins which have then been re-produced in the lab and made into a serum.
- This solution is then massaged onto the face to boost collagen production and elastin development, which can help fight ageing, even out pigmentation, reduce scarring, brighten up dull skin and soothe adult acne.
- There are yet to be studies published on its effectiveness, but Sandra, Cate and Kate's skin is anything to go by…
It was then that I got my first look in the mirror. The microneedling had left a chicken pox-like effect on my face, and it didn’t look too pretty. And as Roxanne reminded me, we hadn’t even gone “that hard”. However, she assured me the redness would subside within a few hours to a couple of days.
I wasn’t to touch my face or go on the tube in the immediate hour afterwards or ideally the whole evening, as my thirsty pores were effectively open to the elements like a lawn in a heatwave.
“And nobody wants the fumes of the central line beneath the skin barrier,” she shivered.
In order to avoid direct pollution I strolled the 40-minute walk home – aware that I was receiving some odd glances.
I wasn’t sure if it was the adult case of ‘chicken pox’, or the fact I had no idea what I was doing with my face muscles thanks to the numbing cream yet to wear off.
It’s not one of those facials that would leave you with an instant glow, and I had to avoid make-up and serums like retinols and acids for about 48 hours.
But after the irritation had subsided – within roughly three days – I was amazed by what was happening to my previously dull complexion.
Within a week, the skin on my forehead was smoother and more hydrated. The persistent redness I usually experience on my cheeks had eased and the acne scarring on my chin was noticeably lessened. To touch it felt, err, like a baby's skin.
The downside? It’s got a Hollywood price tag of £450. So this is an investment, more than a pay day pick-me-up. And the results aren’t overnight. Don’t schedule any Hinge dates or high school reunions for the foreseeable.
But I promise you it’s worth the wait. Like fine wine, this facial has only got better with time.
Three weeks later, it felt like my face had been blitzed with the skin-smoothing FaceTune filter. Except IRL.
From £450 at Young LDN (www.youngldn.com), the brand new skin and beauty destination in Notting Hill
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