Situated just off Melrose Blvd. in a small, chic house — more cozy and private compared to a spa, Darden says — is where the magic happens. The facial started as most do, with a cleansing and steam. Next, she did a quick pass of an ultrasound wand for overall skin tightening, then jumped right into the first peel. “You won’t actually peel, but you will feel it,” she told me. She wasn’t lying — it burned. (She customizes the acids depending on the client's skin needs.)
Then came the extractions. [Edit. note: Darden doesn’t normally include extractions in a pre-awards show facial, as they can cause redness, but seeing as my weekend plans include deep cleaning the grout in my shower, not attending the Oscars, she went to town, carefully poking and prodding every clogged pore.] Next, it was on to an oxygen treatment for plumper skin, albeit temporarily, followed by a lactic peel and sulfur mask to benefit my dry skin, clogged pores, and milia.
The Dynamic Duo
Finally, the pièce de résistance: light therapy with a secret bonus.“Using the light after the facial and extractions helps to speed up healing, so you won’t have as much redness," she said. She tackled my clogged pores with minimal markings. Darden used LightStim (on the blue acne setting for me) for 20 minutes — although many go into the bed for 40 minutes instead. The goal? To build collagen and speed up healing for more than just your face. "It releases nitric oxide in your body," she says. Translation: Many believe that means less bruising and redness, increase blood flow, and even decreased arthritis and joint pain. Light therapy for aesthetics is still in its early stages and the LightStim bed is the first of its kind to be FDA-approved. But on to that secret bonus: microcurrent.
“It’s a soft wave current that stimulates the muscles — it’s like exercise for your skin,” she explained as she zapped just my lips and the area immediately around them. “You’ll notice your lips are going to look bigger,” she says. ”I normally do it to people and they don’t even know, then they come back and say, ‘What did you do? Can I just get that?’” (I admit my lips actually did look poutier by the time I got home.) The best part? “It lasts up to 10 days."
The craziest part of the whole thing was not the secret lip plumper, however. With some heavily-touted facials in our city ringing in at over $1,000, this one is a fraction of the cost at $300. That is, if you can ever get in for an appointment.