As more and more facialists combine cutting edge technology with a hands-on approach, the demand for advanced aesthetic treatments such as radiofrequency is ever increasing. Jennifer Aniston credits radiofrequency facials with keeping her skin “lifted”, but radiofrequency devices can also soften fine lines while firming the facial contours – both immediately and over time.
London facialist Abigail James explains that if microdermabrasion is “the skin smoother” of the facial world, you can consider radiofrequency “the contour refiner”.
So, can you forget dermal fillers and put down your contouring kit for good? Here, we examine exactly how radiofrequency works on the skin, and whether you should be investing in a course of treatments.
What is radiofrequency, and how does it work?
Aesthetically-speaking, radiofrequency is a nonsurgical skin tightening method using energy to heat skin with the purpose of stimulating collagen production.
“Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, found naturally in the bones, muscles, tendons, and in our skin,” explains Florina Indries, senior aesthetician at Linnaean. “In our late twenties, our collagen production starts to decline by around one per cent a year, due to both internal and external factors, such as smoking, UV light, and our diets.”
While you can’t simply ‘drop’ more collagen into the skin, you can prompt the cells responsible for producing it – the fibroblasts – to work a little overtime. Indries describes radiofrequency as one of her favourite collagen induction therapies. “It’s a form of electromagnetic energy”, she explains. “When applied to the area treated, it causes a molecular friction, producing heat. The actual source of the heat is the frictional resistance of the tissue. By doing this, we can contract the collagen fibres, resulting in an immediate skin-tightening effect, as well as delayed collagen synthesis, meaning the results are both instant and cumulative.”
Indeed, the immediate results can be impressive. A single session will likely leave you with a noticeably firmer and lifted appearance, with the skin around the nasolabial folds and jawline looking especially taught and fresh. “It’s great for softening fine lines – especially the nose to mouth lines – as well as lifting the cheeks and tightening the jawline,” adds James.
Do radiofrequency facials hurt?
No, and there is no downtime – any redness in the skin will have subsided by the end of your treatment. “It’s comfortable: not painful at all, but rather relaxing. We gradually build up the heat to a temperature of 40-to-43 degrees celsius. I can compare it to the feeling of a hot stone massage”, explains Indries.
Who is best suited to radiofrequency?
James recommends radiofrequency to “anyone experiencing loss of firmness and dullness in their skin”. She explains that as well as collagen production, “it also boosts oxygen levels in the skin, so it’s great for general radiance”.
However, anyone with metal places should sit it out, as well as anyone who is pregnant or people with issues when skin sensation is altered such as diabetes. “If you have acne or rosace there are other technologies which are much more suitable, such as LED,” James explains.
How many sessions are recommended?
As mentioned, a single session of radiofrequency can deliver great results – James often recommends it to her clients as a pre-event treatment. But for deeper, long-term results, Indries recommends a course of four-to-six sessions spaced between seven and 10 days apart.
At-home radiofrequency devices explained
James says that “at-home skincare devices of all kinds can be a support, however they will not give the results of an in clinic machine”. As with all DIY devices (as much as skincare), “frequent use is key”.
“It’s important with any radiofrequency device to keep it moving on the skin; if held in one position you will get a spike of heat and possible burn,” she warns. Naturally, you should follow the manufacturer instructions, but James explains that in general you should approach home treatments as such: “You need to apply enough slip – this is often a brand’s accompanying gel or cream – to the skin to act as a conductor. Get the device up to the optimum temperature quickly then drop it down to a comfortable level and keep it moving on the skin. Don’t be fooled into thinking that hotter is better. Seven is a good place to be on a temperature guide, with one being cold and 10 being burning.”
From Harper’s Bazaar UK