Popularized by celebrities and featured in news segments, unique–sometimes offbeat–beauty treatments promise the fountain of youth. While some initial research studies have shown these trendy treatments to be effective, dermatologists remain cautious about recommending them over proven therapies, which have been more extensively studied and can provide longer-lasting results.
Information is provided by Joshua Zeichner, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and an assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
This is a procedure during which tiny needles are used to poke holes in the skin, and that can be followed by the application of a skin cream or serum. As the skin heals, collagen is stimulated, improving fine lines and the texture of the skin. This treatment has also been used to treat scars as it builds up collagen underneath sunken scars, such as acne scars.
Zeichner cautions about the procedure:
- Depending on the depth of penetration of the needles, microneedling can require several days or weeks of recovery to allow for reduction of swelling, redness and potential scabbing.
- Side effects can include allergy to the cream or serum applied to the skin, infections from improperly cleaned equipment, bleeding and pain.
- Not recommend for people with a history of keloids, which are dome-shaped raised scars, because the treatment could cause a scar that could be worse than the original skin problem.
- While microneedling can be beneficial for some, for more profound results, Zeichner recommends laser resurfacing, which uses high-energy laser light to improve fine lines and skin texture.
2. Bee venom facial
Honeybee venom has properties that stimulate the production of collagen within the skin. Zeichner says bee venom facials may be more effective than traditional facials, since they have the potential to impact the skin’s ability to make collagen as opposed to just hydrating the skin or removing dirt and oil. However, patients who are allergic to bee stings, should avoid the bee venom facial.
- For a proven way to stimulate collagen, Zeichner recommends using an over-the-counter topical retinoid instead of a bee venom facial.
3. Vampire “facelift”
During this procedure, blood is drawn from the patient to obtain platelet-rich plasma, which is then injected back into the person’s face. Platelet-rich plasma contains growth factors that have been claimed to stimulate the growth of collagen and healthy skin cells.
Zeichner explains more about the recovery time:
- While the vampire “facelift” is a safe procedure, pain and bruising can occur.
- People considering this treatment should be patient, as the full-effect of it takes weeks to months to see improvement and often multiple sessions are needed.
- Zeichner recommends fillers because these are proven to plump up the skin for longer-lasting, immediate results.
4. Bird poop facial
This treatment uses the droppings of Japanese nightingales that are fed a specialized diet. The droppings are sanitized under UV light and then mixed with rice bran for the purpose of exfoliating and brightening the skin.
The droppings are rich in urea and the amino acid guanine. Urea is a known humectant commonly included in skin moisturizers. Guanine is thought to be the ingredient that gives fish scales their shine.
There is a rare possibility of an allergic reaction to the nightingale droppings, notes Zeichner.
- Zeichner says exfoliating treatments, such as microdermabrasion or glycolic acid exfoliation, paired with traditional moisturizers are proven to be more effective than bird poop facials in brightening the skin.
5. Placenta facial
This treatment uses a serum derived from sheep placenta that some believe can brighten and tighten the skin. The serum is rich in proteins and growth factors, which are ingredients shown to stimulate collagen and protect the skin from UV light and pollution.
Evaluation: Zeichner recommends using over-the-counter cosmeceuticals with ingredients, such as antioxidants, like retinol and peptides, or alpha and beta hydroxy acids instead. These ingredients are proven to help brighten the skin and stimulate collagen.
AAD expert advice
“While exotic beauty treatments can offer some cosmetic benefits, further research needs to be done to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of these fad treatments,” says Zeichner. “Fortunately, there are skin care treatments–both over-the-counter and in the dermatologist’s office–that are backed by science and proven to be effective. Before undergoing a unique beauty treatment, people should discuss the best options for their skin with a board-certified dermatologist.”