Every time I talk about a dermatological procedure, I receive a bit of flak. How could I, as a natural beauty expert, promote these therapies? However, for me, there’s no either/or. I love using raw honey as a cleanser and sea buckthorn oil is my holy grail product but I’m not averse to a quick laser. While loading up on your greens is non-negotiable, there are times when you need the dermatologist. Like the time I got a pea-sized zit in the middle of my forehead a week before the launch of my book. Dr Kiran Sethi of Isyaderm, Delhi, gave me a cortisone shot that instantly flattened it.
Still, the world of doctor’s office treatments is a slippery slope. But some treatments are so sublime that they deserve more than a second look. A full body laser was the best money I ever spent (ask for Soprano). For the face, I love a gentle laser, which doesn’t require the application of steroid cream after. Dr Meghna Gupta in Delhi introduced me to Clear Skin and AFT: both treatments refine pores, clarify and prevent breakouts. But these are baby variations. If you want dramatic change, there is ClearLift 4D, which works on clarity, lift, de-pigmentation and reducing wrinkles. Or Bobbi Brown’s favourite, PicoSure, which she says makes her look like she’s wearing foundation. These stronger ones do require a mild steroid cream, and cost over ₹25,000 per session. Steep, when compared to the first two that cost around ₹10,000 each.
As I step into my 40s, the focus shifts from pores and clarity to tightening and adding volume. A friend of mine, who entered her fourth decade a few years back, adopted PRP — platelet-rich plasma or the vampire facial. She calls it ‘the gift that keeps on giving’: her skin went from ashen to a radiant hot chocolate, without ever looking ‘done’.
For me ‘the gift’ has been the Aqua Gold facial. When Dr Sethi first told me about the therapy, I was sceptical but intrigued. Microneedling vitamins and peptides (wow), with PRP (yay), dermal hyaluronic acid (ok…), and a micro dose of Botox (yikes!). Nano gold, probiotics (especially good for those with rosacea), humectants and calming tea extracts were also in the mix.
I was alright with everything but the Botox. I didn’t want to look surprised 24/7, or become attached to something I’ve been studiously avoiding. But the doctor put me at ease, explaining how the tiniest amount is micro-needled into the skin’s surface, and not the muscle (which is what causes the unnatural lift and freeze).
The treatment itself involves the therapist stamping the infusion into the skin with a gold-plated roller with 0.5 mm needles. The tool also goes over your lips and lids, but it is pain free thanks to the numbing cream applied pre-procedure. Typically, people use no more than 1 ml of PRP — Dr Sethi uses around 3 to 5 ml so that you get an exponential stem cell boosting benefit, and have enough for face, neck, lips and under eyes.
Byrdie’s editoral director, Faith Xue, says the procedure made her skin tight and smooth, like a steamed dumpling. After trying it just before the Met Gala in 2018, Kim Kardashian remarked that she’d love to do it every month (even though it is only required once in three months).
While there is no doubt that I looked refreshed right after, the real magic unfolds a week later. As I write this column a month after, I feel like if you pierced my skin with a needle, a fountain of moisture would burst forth. I haven’t had a breakout, nor have I worn foundation. I can still move my brow and my skin is smooth like a freshly-peeled egg. Not that anything was wrong with my skin before, but I see just the subtlest difference, which changes everything. Like the perfect red lipstick, or the exact blend of fragrances, it is usually the little things that make an impact.
Would I try it again? Yes. It may not be something that I do regularly, but I will revisit it when my skin needs a boost.
Aqua Gold facial costs ₹27,000 plus taxes at Isya Aesthetics in Delhi.