Review - Ella Baché Microdermabrasion
Updated: Jul 13
As a happy customer of Ella Baché West Lindfield for quite some time now, I was incredibly lucky to have been invited by Kimberley, the salon manager, to try out their new microdermabrasion offering. Ever since I had my first Signature Facial, I have been recommending this place to all my friends and clients. The invitation couldn't have come at a better time because I have been suffering from some congestion along my jawline due to recent medication.
For introduction of salon location and treatment room, see my previous blog post on the Ella Baché Signature Facial.
Who is this for
The name 'microdermabrasion' could sound harsh and intimidating. However, it can be catered for all skin types. By incorporating different products and using different settings on the machine, it can be customised for sensitive, normal, dry or oily skin.
Microdermabrasion is a specialist facial technique used to physically dislodge the surface layer of dead skin cells. It improves skin texture, reduces the appearance of pigmentation, smooths fine lines and boosts cellular turnover for a smoother and brighter complexion.
Pictured above: microdermabrasion machine used in Ella Baché West Lindfield
Usually the first step of a facial is a cleanse, but for this particular treatment the order was different. I got a neck and décolletage massage to start off with. I did not appreciate it at the time but this was pretty much the only relaxation time of this facial (!) The rest of it was... pretty intense.
Cleanse & skin diagnoses
Julie (my favourite beauty therapist) cleansed my skin and performed a thorough diagnoses. She pointed out my problem areas like pigmentation and congestion, where she would be concentrating on. She also chose the type of microdermabrasion grains that would suit my skin type - in this case it was the lavender grains (for normal to sensitive skin). The other options are tea tree flower grains for oily skin, and rose flower grains for very dry or dehydrated skin. Confused? Read on to see how the grains work.
Pictured above: organic flower grains used in microdermabrasion
After Julie set up the microdermabrasion machine, she tested the microdermabrasion wand inside her wrist - this is ALWAYS a good sign to show that the therapist is cautious. Nevertheless, it was still a shock for me when Julie first placed the microdermabrasion wand on my forehead just below my hairline. There was certainly a level of discomfort. It was not to the extent that it was "painful"; it felt like having a very thin strip of sandpaper scratching across the surface of my skin, together with a suction force that pulled my skin. I told Julie how I felt (well, to the best I could), and she turned down the suction level. It immediately felt slightly more tolerable.
When Julie finished the T-zone and started to do it across my cheeks, she could immediately sensed my discomfort (perhaps by my facial expression - I was probably frowning or twitching my nose, or both). She immediately asked if I would like to try a lower setting because the skin on my cheeks is "thinner" and hence a little more sensitive. Following that, she switched between the higher and the lower settings across the different areas of my skin. The second half of the microdermabrasion was much more tolerable, even though the settings were similar. I must have gotten over the initial shock (both physically and mentally!). Julie said that she would note down the settings in my file, and when I come back for more microdermabrasion in the future she would be able to gradually increase the setting to build up my skin's tolerance.
The mechanics: What was happening inside the wand? It was actually delivering a controlled, yet powerful stream of pure organic flower grains to the skin in order to slough off dead cells. In that sense, the grains were used as a physical exfoliant. At the same time, a suction pulled back the grains as well as any dead skin cells and dirt from the skin's surface. Sarah (another wonderful beauty therapist at the salon) told me that from her experience the flower grain technology is a relatively gentle method that is currently used in microdermabrasion, compared to crystals which are sharper and exfoliate in a cutting method. The latter often leads to redness after treatment.
At first, the machine was quite noisy. However, by the time that the microdermabrasion was finished, I actually have gotten used to the sound and it just faded to a background white noise.
Pictured above: (top) microdermabrasion wand delivers the organic flower grains; (bottom) diamond wand for infusion
After microdermabrasion with the grains was done, Julie applied a calming serum (SensiBeautics Intensive Recovery Serum) on my skin, followed by a warm, salon-use-only Plump-up Massage Gel. Julie told me that warming up the gel is her own personal trick - which is precisely why I like Julie's facial so much because she puts in a lot of thoughts into these little details. If you have experience with a cold sheet mask you would know exactly why I liked the sensation of the warm gel!
The infusion was performed using a "diamond wand" which enhanced serum penetration into the skin. This step is technically also a "peel", and the wand with the diamond tip helps to "push" the product into the skin. Because the surface layer of dead cells and dirt has been removed, the skin is much more receptive to uptake any product applied at this stage. Again - I wouldn't say it was a bliss to have the serum infusion done, but it was certainly much more tolerable than the microdermabrasion step.
Once the infusion step is finished, Julie applied the calming serum again, followed by the Great SPF50+ FaceSaver Lotion.
The first thing I noticed was that my skin did not have one bit of redness. I was expecting that I would look like a lobster by the end of it because of all the abrasion and suction, but I was wrong. The lack of redness proved that the process was actually much more gentle than I thought it was. My initial shock response was probably due to the fact that I wasn't mentally prepared for it, rather than the procedure was being actually invasive.
The second thing I noticed was the glow of my skin - it looked really luminous, and it still looks luminous without makeup two days after (when this review is published).
Not all the bumps and congestion went away after the treatment; however, when I run my fingers across my skin, the bumps felt more "flat", and there were less of them. This is probably as much as I can ask for after one treatment, as microdermabrasion is designed to be used as a course.
The million dollar question is always, will I go back for another treatment? I already have a time booked in for my next facial, but I haven't yet decided whether I want to have another microdermabrasion, or to go back to my favourite Brighten Me Up facial. On one hand I am very happy with the microdermabrasion results, and I am sure I will see my skin improve even more with regular treatments; on the other hand, I am a time-poor person with a toddler and to find an hour or two away from home (alone) is not an everyday luxury for me, so I want my time spent in the salon to be as relaxing as possible (which means non-machine based treatments). While it might not be my cup of tea, this treatment is great for those who want to see instant results - or want to push their skin to a top condition before a special event. If this was on offer a few years earlier, I would certainly want a course of treatments done before my wedding day.
For maximum results, Julie suggests a course of 4-6 treatments with 2 weeks between each treatment. After the initial course is finished, the results can be maintained by one treatment every 4-6 weeks.
$120 for 1 hour (or $99 for 45 minutes). Until 31 December 2018, Ella Baché West Lindfield is running a special introductory offer of $99 for 2 x 30 minutes treatments. The 30-minute session will include cleansing, skin diagnosis and microdermabrasion (without infusion).
Tips & pointers
Be mentally ready for it - think of it as a results-driven treatment, rather than a pampering session.
Each Ella Baché salon has a discretion as to which machine its uses for microdermabrasion. The "Diamond Flower Peel" machine used at West Lindfield was very gentle on my skin, but this may not be the case in other salons.
Avoid exfoliation one week prior to treatment.
Always wear SPF 50+ broad spectrum sunscreen after and between treatments.
Makeup artist and hair stylist based in Sydney. Founder of the well-known award-winning bridal specialist team Faces Makeup & Hair. Beauty junkie with an obsession for skincare.