John Tsagaris, the king of acupuncture, is the brains behind this ultra-modern, east-meets-west facial.
I’ve been a beauty journalist for almost six years now, which means I’ve been lucky enough to have had a facial or two in my time. It also means I’m in the very privileged position of being able to be picky about the types of facial worth having – and the results that I’d ideally like to see afterwards.
My usual criteria includes some pummelling and lots of facial massage – I like a treatment that feels like it’s actually doing something. Gently layering on serum after serum after cream just isn’t going to cut it, quite frankly.
This means that, as soon as I get an email from John Tsagaris about his new facial offerings in Harrods’ Wellness Clinic, my ears prick up and I am very interested.
Tsagaris is an internationally renowned doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Human Bioscience. He specialises in acupuncture, and has spent years of his career combining TCM with western technology in order to create the most effective treatments and products possible.
I don’t really know what I’m in for when I rock up in Knightsbridge on a Wednesday evening, because I decided against booking in for a specific treatment, and instead let the man himself analyse my skin and recommend what he thinks is most beneficial. Prior to my appointment, I mentioned that I’m interested in the LED light therapy that he offers because I suffer from rosacea and acne – both conditions which were diagnosed towards the end of last year by a dermatologist – and I know that this could help with the redness I have.
The Wellness Clinic is on the 3rd floor in Harrods, and after walking round in circles for about 15 minutes, I eventually find an escalator and make my way up there. Considering I’m in the middle of one of the world’s busiest department stores, the clinic feels very zen and calm. So far, so good.
Tsagaris introduces himself and asks me about my skin and my current routine. I lay down on the treatment bed and, as his assistant removes my make-up, he starts putting needles in my arms and feet. I’ve always been sceptical about this sort of thing – what’s the point? Does it even work? Why is this man putting needles in these extremely specific parts of my body?
“I’m using key points on your hands and legs to address internal causes that may interfere with your skin ageing process,” he explains. “It affects the way you process food, glucose and stress hormones and this will help your body start regulating your skin and how your body embraces ageing.”
I can’t feel anything, the needles are microscopic and don’t hurt when they’re going in, or when they’re just hanging out of my arms and feet, so even if my skepticism ends up being valid at least I haven’t suffered any pain.
Next, Tsagaris tells me he’s going to inject some hyaluronic acid into my face. This is the most surprising part of the whole treatment – despite acupuncture being about needles, I didn’t expect to be having stuff actually injected. But, I go with it and, actually, I’m quite excited at the prospect of this so-called skin-remodeling.
I ask if it’s kind of similar to having filler or Botox, but it’s actually the complete opposite. “This works with your skin, rather than against it. It’s literally nothing but your body’s own hydrating element. Not only is it going to deeply hydrate and reduce inflammation, but it’ll plump and restructure new collagen fibers, too,” he says.
Collagen and hyaluronic acid are the things that keeps skin hydrated and bouncy, and, sadly, both reduce as we age. In turn, that’s what causes lines and wrinkles, and is the reason skin loses its plumpness and elasticity.
In total I have ten individual, 2ml injections, each one to address particular points of my face. I have one next to each eye to refine all the lines and to brighten that area, one next to each ear to create a better contour and plumpness on my cheeks, as well as helping to lift my the lower part of my face. Another one is placed next to my nose and mouth, and then finally I have injections above and below my lips.
I’m intrigued by the idea of hyaluronic acid having an anti-inflammatory effect when it’s injected compared to when it’s applied topically. Tsagaris explains that it’s because it goes straight to the source – and, to be honest, that’s something I feel like I can get on board with. Keeping my skin hydrated is something I actively try to do, so to me, having these injections makes complete sense.
Once those injections are complete, it’s time for the cosmetic acupuncture. “What we’re doing here is activating the fibroblasts within skin to help repair and restructure the collagen and elastin fibers. Every time I place a needle into your skin, it acknowledges the injury, sending blood and anti-inflammatory agents to that area to kick start the reconstruction process,” I’m told. “This helps accelerate the absorption of the hyaluronic acid we’ve just injected, too.”
I have around 85 needles hanging out of my face and, honestly, I can’t feel a thing. Next up it’s time for me to sit under some LED lights. LED has long been used in a professional capacity and it’s been proven that skin cell receptors react to the light in the same way as any other active ingredient. The only downside is that it needs to be performed on a frequent basis until the problem has been tackled.
“One off LED sessions are a waste of money. You won’t see any improvement and so you’ll end up losing faith. They’re very good anti-inflammatories and work on a cellular level, but you need at least 20 minutes exposure twice a week for a month,” says Tsagaris.
I sit under a machine for around half an hour. The lights don’t feel warm, it’s just bright, and so I’m wearing goggles to protect my eyes but that’s it. And then once my time is up, an super-hydrating sheet mask from Tsagaris’ own SkinPointEight skincare line is put on - and then that’s it. I’m done.
It’s advised that I don’t do any strenuous exercise for two days (no danger of that) and the next day I can carry on with my usual skincare routine. The following morning I wake up and I don’t notice any major difference in how my skin looks. I have a couple of tiny bruises on my chin and at the sides of my face, but that’s it - and I’m a little bit disappointed, although I’m not really sure what I was expecting.
Then over the next few days my skin looks super glowy and the redness has significantly reduced. Granted, there are still some red areas, but I’m sure that’s something that will go away if I continue having more LED - one treatment is never going to fix it completely. I also notice that my foundation is staying on better and it requires less touch-ups throughout the day, which I can only assume is because my skin is more hydrated so I’m not getting any tell-tale dry patches.
These treatments don’t come cheap - £1700 per session is ridiculously expensive - and while I couldn’t ever imagine having that much spare money to casually splash on a facial, I am really pleased with the outcome. The most noticeable differences came from the hyaluronic acid injections and LED elements, both of which are things I would look to keep having done in future.
Beauty Acupuncture with Hyaluronic Acid skin remodeling, £1700 per session, is available at The Wellness Clinic in Harrods.
Main image: Lucy Partington/Stylist