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my monthly salon facial treatments

My monthly salon facial treatments

Is a Solution for:
Sagging Skin
Reviewed by Marta September 27, 2010 35 Comments
Although I regularly post updates of my daily regimen, it is high time that I describe my monthly facials as these treatments are every bit as important as finding a good serum. This is one of the reasons why I’m going to be increasing Truth In Aging’s coverage of treatments, salons and spas. But I’ll come back to that. First, I want to tell you about my facial treatments (which I have been having for about eight years now) at the Ildi Pekar salon in New York.

The two main components of my treatments are microcurrent and LED. I believe that they are both the single most important thing that I do to prevent sagging and put off the need to have dermal fillers.

Microcurrent is not a new technology (in the UK, the machines are called CACI) and it was originally developed to restore muscular functions for stroke patients. However, the machines have become more sophisticated over the last couple of decades with more sensitive controls that allow a good esthetician to really “sculpt” facial contours.

Microcurrent uses a subsensory electric current that delivers a pulse to the facial muscles and stimulates them and the surrounding tissue. The esthetician’s skill is in manipulating two probes to massage the muscles whilst the current is being delivered to them. This stimulates the muscle fibers and they can be gently (this is not something you can really feel happening) toned or shortened.

The theory is that microcurrent improves the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the chemical in muscles that provides energy. However, there only seems to be one study backing this up and it goes back to the late 1980s – however, the results were an impressive 500% increase in ATP. Anyway, ATP is stored and so the effects of microcurrent treatments over time are cumulative.

What appeals to me about microcurrent is that it works in the opposite way to invasive procedures such as Botox, which inhibits muscle movement in order to relax wrinkles. However, a muscle that doesn’t move will atrophy and the result (without more treatments) would be increased sagging. Microcurrent, on the other hand, is like giving the muscles in your face the equivalent of a bicep curl.

The other key treatment in my monthly facial session is LED light therapy. At Ildi’s salon the panels of light are positioned to treat my face, décolleté, arms and hands.  While microcurrent works on the muscles, lED works on the skin’s cells. It works by stimulating the body’s tissues to convert the light energy into cellular energy. It boosts collagen production and scavenger cells that remove excess pigmentation or scar tissue.  Uising visible or near infrared light for LED is used more widely for reducing pain, inflammation and edema, promoting healing of wounds, deeper tissues and nerves, and preventing tissue damage.

LED is somewhat controversial because it isn’t really understood as to how it works and some research has shown that it can signal radical scavengers in the short-term. However, these are ultimately overthrown by the antioxidant activity that the light stimulates.

I top up these salon treatments with a Baby Quasar LED light treatment, which I use at home for about 10 minutes once a week or so. I have never tried an at-home microcurrent device on the grounds that any fool can hold up an LED light, but the effects of microcurrent are also due to the way the probes are used to massage the muscle. As I don’t really have the experience of a trained esthetician, I’ve always felt that I’d be wasting my money on an at-home device.

We are going to increase TIA’s coverage of salon treatments for face and body, as well as salon only skincare brands. So if you have treatments that you can recommend or a local salon that you’d like to share with our community, please let us know.
  • November 16, 2016

    by Marta

    Hi Sharon

    I still have those monthly microcurrent treatments, but it is somewhat out of habit. The best thing I have found is ultrasound which I do with my at-home device, the Truth Vitality Lux Renew.

  • November 15, 2016

    by Sharon

    Hi Martha,
    I wanted to ask : with five years hindsite - do you find electrical stimulation of the facial muscles with microcurrents effective against sagging? Do you see down sides to this treatment (other than the cost).
    Would be grateful for your answer

  • October 1, 2011

    by Marta

    Microcurrent and LED both work under the dermis and will not effect the pigment of the skin. I suspect your technician meant phototherapies such as IPL or laser, which do change and can discolor the surface of the skin. But you could really give microcurrent and/or LED a go without any fear.

  • October 1, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Kimberly, I have LED salon treatments once a month. I top up in the meantime with LED at home (either Aurora or Baby Q), but even if I didn't do the at-home treatments I think once a month is fine, twice a month would be great, twice a week is overkill.

    I think the green tea experiment would be great, as well as inexpensive and harmless. I use YBF's Antioxidants Concentrate because its convenient. But a DIY thing would be worth trying if you have time and the inclination. Let us know if you do!

    And a big warm welcome to the TIA community!

  • October 1, 2011

    by Kimberly

    Hi again, Marta--

    One more question (for now, anyway): Do you have any opinion of and/or experience with these "spa pods" here in Manhattan that have cropped up lately? I get the impression that they're basically full-body LED machines--sounds intriguing!

    Thanks again,
    Kimberly

  • October 1, 2011

    by Kimberly

    Hi Marta,

    How often should one have professional LED treatments? I bought a package of 18 at a salon here in Manhattan, and have been having two per week for the last month. Is this overkill? Am I wasting my sessions by stacking them this way?

    Also, considering the German study that showed green tea's enhancement of positive results of LED, what type of green tea serum/application do you think should be used beforehand? My aesthetician cleans my face, then applies a few little dabs of a green tea serum that she says she makes herself. And when I think of it, I apply Juice Beauty's Antioxidant Serum before I go to the spa, but I don't know whether my doing so helps, as the aesthetician cleans my face anyway.

    I was thinking that, if I ever have some free time (!) before an LED treatment, I might brew up some organic green tea and apply it to my skin, attempting to mimic the German study's protocol. (A quote from the study here: "Here we modified the routine and introduced topical application of green tea (3 g of dry leaf mass per 250 mL of water, brewing temperature 100 °C, cooling time 30 min), applied onto the skin around the corner of the eyes 20 min before irradiating the wrinkled zones according to the protocol.")

    If I have time to try this, do you think I should soak several organic cotton pads in the cooled green tea and then apply them all over my face, leaving them in place for 20 minutes? I have very sensitive skin, and mild rosacea/couperose on my cheeks, so do you think this might not be such a good idea? (Who knows when I'd have time to do this anyway, but it's fun to think about, particularly if it'll help me get more bang for my LED buck!)

    I'm new to TIA and have really enjoyed poking around thus far. Thanks very much for your time and effort for everyone's benefit!

    All the best,
    Kimberly

  • October 1, 2011

    by Justd

    Marta, I'm curious, since I was informed by the technician at the spa I go to about photo facials not being something that women of my ethnicity can or should obtain, would the micro current or led therapy fall into that category of not being applicable for African-American women as well? I wish I knew what is available that encompasses my ethnicity sufficiently in order to be able to get similar services to help ward off sagging and plumping up sinkholes. It's so exasperating being both ignorant and left out of the loop simultaneously. Thanks as always, for all that TIA does.

  • September 20, 2011

    by Natasha

    Hey There - loving the site it's brilliant. Just thought i would clarify that CACI are a brand of microcurrent machines in the UK.

    There are home devices for more regular use (and cheaper) such as the Tua Tre'nd which I use and the brand new Tua Spa which is sonic peel, massage plus surface microcurrent(at the moment this is only available in the UK) Hope that helps you keep the finger on the pulse (pun intended) ; )

  • March 2, 2011

    by Naheed

    I had an oxygen facial @ Ildie last year. I didn't see any difference in my skin, although Ildie was very thorough and knowledgeable.

  • November 26, 2010

    by shelly

    As a respected Esthetician that has been preforming Microcurrent treatments with the best machine in the industry for the past 7 years now (which cost me about 10k for my newest machine purchased just last year), I do need to set the record straight and say that the Facemaster (which I also own and cost only $200)is not remotely close to the same in terms of results or quality. Microcurrent treatments in my office take a full hour while the Facemaster only takes 15 minutes and needs to be done every day vs. once a month to maintain. The muscles twitch with the Facemaster which is not supposed to happen at all, with a quality microcurrent machine. I have seen a slight difference with the Facemaster but it pales in comparison and doesn't last more then a few days. Before and after pictures prove a dramatic difference between the two machines. There are far fewer movements and its technology is less intelligent in terms of sequencing. You get what you pay for, or else I would use the $200 machine in my office and save myself a ton of money! I value the information on this site and feel that it is a great resource. I hope that this information was helpful. That said, I wanted to thank Marta for all of her hard work in providing this site for all who are passionate about skin care.

  • October 6, 2010

    by Joey

    Dardar.....I would be interested in the esthetician (name and number) that does microcurrent in the Ft. Lauderdale area.
    Also, I would be interested in someone doing microcurrent in the Oakland
    County area of Michigan.

  • October 4, 2010

    by Summer

    Does anyone know of an excellent esthetician in Birmingham, Alabama who can provide these same services? Thank you.

  • October 2, 2010

    by mun

    I would love to get microcurrent in West L.A. KNOW OF ANY?

  • September 30, 2010

    by Teresa Cueto

    Hi Marta, thank you for this newsletter on Microcurrent. You've got to look into NuFACE, it's the first and only hand held device FDA cleared for facial toning and stimulation. Based on the same technology used in professional spa-grade microcurrent facials, it aims to advance muscle tone in the face.

    I believe its still important to visit your esthetician on a regular basis but Carol Cole, the creator and founder of NuFACE sought to create a solution to her discerning client's anti-aging needs which resulted in a hand held device that is portable and can be used in the comfort of your own home.

  • September 30, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Lisa, not you don't have to have 10 treatments in 5 weeks (that would be two per week). One a week for 3 or 4 weeks and then just once a month.

  • September 30, 2010

    by Bev

    I use the Suzanne Somer's unit and I think it makes a difference. I just follow the instructions on the card, and it's not hard at all. I just wish I had time to do it more often. I used to have a micro-current facial regularly for several years, but had to stop for economic reasons. My facialist was just wonderful, an older European woman. However I think the Suzanne Somers unit does just as good as job, it's just not as relaxing as getting a facial!

  • September 30, 2010

    by DarDar

    I had treatment #4 yesterday - microcurrent - in the Ft. Lauderdale Area. I am pleased and do see results, im 59......have no fillers, botox, etc.

  • September 29, 2010

    by Summer Bagley

    Hi Marta,

    I have been doing LED therapy every 3-4 weeks here in Rockford, IL with a wonderful aesthetician ( 1hour from Madison for the previous poster) She is actually getting an LED bed next month. Any experience with this??? SO instead of just coming in and getting my face done--I would lay in a bed for 10 minutes. What are your thoughts???
    Also--only one place in our town that does microcurrent---what are your rules for that? What should I be looking for and asking?
    Thanks soo much Marta!

  • September 29, 2010

    by Lisa

    If you are just starting out with microcurrent therapy is it necessary to have 10 treatments within five weeks. I'm looking for a provider and that is the recommendation when starting out. I'm really don't want to spend $1200. $120/month is doable.

  • September 29, 2010

    by jc

    lol! the guide really lays it out and looking online for the muscle structure of the face helped me tailor my routine. i have to say my favorite area i notice the most difference is the cheekbone area, the hollow looks a tad more hollow and the upper cheek'bone' area looks lifted and a tad more pronounced. i really enjoy my devices but don't know how they compare to the real deal! definitely in the name of science you should invest! ;)

  • September 29, 2010

    by marta

    Hi JC I haven't tried the home devices. I am concerned that I don't have skills to make microcurrent work. I should give them a try though - in the interests of science :) I'd probably try Nuface if I do.

  • September 29, 2010

    by jc

    marta, do you have any opinion on the home microcurrent units, i.e. suzanne somers' facemaster, isomers nutritone, the 'nuface', etc? i currently use a facemaster and a nutritone (i tend to use the facemaster more) and my experience is i do see a difference in my face when i use it regularly(several times a week).

  • September 29, 2010

    by marta

    Susan, I'm with you on that. When I look at what I spend annually, it is certainly one of more expensive habits. But I wouldn't give them up - I'd go without shoes first (your eggs analogy doesn't work for me as eggs are one of my favorite foods).

  • September 29, 2010

    by Susan

    I've been doing Mansard microcurrent facials for 1 1/2 years. About 2 months ago, I had to cease due to finances. I've noticed aging in a dramatic manner--more sagging, and it occurred to me last week it was due to no more facials.

    Ok, I'll eat eggs for dinner every night, but I'm resuming my facials!!!
    :-)

  • September 29, 2010

    by Stephanie

    I'd love an esthetician recommendation for the Chicago area...

  • September 28, 2010

    by deb

    I am all for trying the microcurrent and LED technology, however, finding an esthetician is the tricky part in my part of the country. If anyone can recommend a doctor in the Madison, WI. area I would be most grateful.

  • September 28, 2010

    by kim

    wow that so amazing marta! thank u!!!

  • September 28, 2010

    by Angela J

    That is such a generous offer from Ildi - I feel like coming back to the East Coast just to take advantage of it.

    If anyone in the TIA community can recommend an excellent aesthetician in the San Francisco Bay Area (preferably one who is experienced using microcurrent and LED), I would be forever grateful.

  • September 28, 2010

    by Marta

    Kim - and all other New Yorkers. Ildi Pekar is offering a 15% discount to anyone who calls in and mentions my name. Thanks Ildi!

    You can contact the salon:
    212-682-6080
    email SALON@ILDIPEKAR.COM
    http://ildipekar.com/index-4.html

  • September 27, 2010

    by Kerry

    I’ve found that my beauty clinic offers Max 7 LED-BRAND as an add-on with its Silkpeel, is that the some type of thing as the LED you’re using? If so I could easily add that to my next peel but can't seem to find Caci here.

  • September 27, 2010

    by Marta

    Hi Kerry,
    I think the odd careful peel is a good idea as skin starts to need brightening in the 30s. Just don't overdo it.

    I think microcurrent is a great to start at 30 (I had Caci treatments - as it is called in the UK) in my late 30s for about a year and then stopped because I was traveling a lot. But I think the idea of training muscles to stay firm makes a lot of sense from mid 30s onwards.

  • September 27, 2010

    by Kerry

    What do you think for thirty something’s? I’ve been having Lactic peels in the past (not when I’m on the job reviewing for the TIA) and I do occasionally have a Silkpeel- BRAND ( hydrating version of microdermabrasion), I suppose I’m trying to address my congested skin as opposed to anti-aging with what I’m doing, although I have heard that microdermabrasion can stimulate collagen.
    Should I add something anti-aging now, what would do you suggest at this age?
    If you could steer me in the right direction I’d love to do a review for the TIA

  • September 27, 2010

    by marta

    Well, Lori, as I said, I think both treatments are responsible for keeping my face and neck firmer. Particularly, fending off puppet lines 1) Creams help with that a bit, but not as dramatically. 2) My daily regimen isn't all that impressive and I frequently try out new stuff for reviewing here that doesn't work all that well - my treatments are the most consistent thing I do 3) I've been doing microcurrent for 8 years and my in-depth research into finding the best potions and lotions only started with this website (2.5 years ago).

    Costs will vary as to where you are (NYC is expensive) and whether you buy one session at a time or a package. The microcurrent is part of a full hour facial that includes other things (that Ildi changes depending on what she thinks my skin needs). The LED is an additional 20 minutes for $130.

  • September 27, 2010

    by kim

    Marta,

    Do you think Ildi Pekar would ever give a discount to TIA New Yorkers, on a Marta Special?

    Kim

  • September 27, 2010

    by Lori

    Can you share what results you believe you are seeing from the treatments as well as the typical cost range? Since you have such an impressive daily regimen, I'm wondering how you can tell what results to contribute to these treatments.

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