You’ve probably seen the photos on Instagram: A celebrity or influencer’s face covered with blood splatter. No, it’s not Halloween makeup, it’s actually one of the latest treatment trends in skin care, also known as a “vampire facial.” Celebrities, including Kim Kardashian West and Bar Refaeli, are fans of the facial, which might look quite scary, but boasts big-time results.
So, what is it and how does it work, exactly? Don’t let the name fool you. In fact, “It’s usually done in full light of day,” says Beverly Hills-based dermatologist Ava Shamban. In all seriousness, the treatment is a “combination of a microdermabrasion, followed by the application of PRP (platelet-rich plasma),” says Shamban. “The PRP is derived from the serum portion of the blood, which contains platelets. The platelets contain high levels of growth factors, which, when applied to the skin, will stimulate cell turnover.”
In laymen’s terms: It’s a facial that essentially uses, “your own blood to help promote the healthy activity of your skin cells,” says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Our blood is comprised of red blood cells and serum, which contain our white blood cells and platelets.
Platelets, Zeichner explains, are rich in growth factors, which essentially act as energy boots for our skin. This helps our skin function optimally, increasing everything from collagen to elastin, while also bringing antioxidant and hydrating properties. “Platelet-rich plasma is now commonly used topically as part of a regular facial, used along with microneedling to enhance penetration into the skin, and is even being injected into the skin in the same manner as dermal fillers,” says Zeichner.