I Traveled 4,000 Miles to Get a $500 Nonsurgical Lift Facial
There are many reasons why one would travel thousands of miles to visit the Naupaka Spa and Wellness Center at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. Situated within a lush walk-through garden complete with bamboo trees and outdoor daybeds, the multilevel spa is home to a plethora of opportunities to reenergize the whole self – sound journeys, intuitive healing, and guided meditations included. For many people, these experiences would be enough of a motivator to choose this resort over others on the island. But for those as enthusiastic about skin care as I am, there was one especially enticing high-level treatment that instantly perked up my beauty antennas for being different from anything I’d be able to get in my home city of Los Angeles: the Celestial Black Diamond Ultimate Lift Facial.
Yes, at first glance, the $465 cost may be shocking, but considering the fact that the 80-minute experience incorporates several fan-favorite treatments into one cohesive facial meant to brighten, hydrate, exfoliate, and lift the skin, it seemed well worth the try. “This facial was curated based on feedback from clients and the results they wanted to see,” says Breege Holden, director of the Naupaka Spa & Wellness Center. “Usually when choosing a facial you have to decide on what to target, whether it be deep cleansing, antiaging, sun repair, or hydration, but we wanted to develop the ultimate facial to tackle all of these at once.”
The facial highlights the luxury skin-care line 111Skin, which was developed by Dr. Yannis Alexandrides, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who sought out to create a potent serum that would expedite the healing process for postsurgical patients. The brand has since expanded to include various targeted lines, with the Intensive collection being the star of the show in the facial I received.
The facial itself is named after the fine diamond particles that lace the products in the Intensive collection, but the latter is also formulated with licorice root extract to treat hyperpigmentation, hyaluronic acid to plump, and, most notably, NAC Y², the brand’s proprietary complex that was developed alongside aerospace scientists to help astronauts maintain healthy skin in space. (Yep, you read that right.) These highly potent formulas improve common signs of aging such as discoloration, fine lines, and wrinkles, and they come with pretty hefty price tags, like the ever-popular Celestial Black Diamond Cream ($995).
So, was the luxury facial worthy of its steep price point? Keep reading to find out.
What Goes Into a Nonsurgical Lift Facial?
The facial includes a buffet of popular skin-care treatments, including a HydraFacial, LED light panel, microcurrent, a wrinkle minimizing wand massage, and lymphatic massage. The time spent on each step varies based on each individual’s skin needs, which I appreciate because it provides a more customized experience. As a whole, the treatment offers “antiaging, resurfacing, pore reduction, brightening, lifting, hydrating, and plumping benefits on top of being deeply relaxing,” says Christine Domenden, the spa’s lead aesthetician who performed my facial. And, aside from the fact that it combines multiple treatments into one, what’s especially unique about it (and part of what drew me to it) is that the neck and décolleté get the special black diamond treatment included (these areas are usually only offered as add-on’s).
Going into the facial, my skin was in major need of a pick-me-up. I was dealing with a hormonal breakout and travel-related congestion from a six-hour flight just days prior. On top of this, my skin is already extremely dry, and I have mild rosacea on the center of my face. After laying onto the heated bed, I already felt tensions starting to release. Domenden assessed my skin and began preparing my senses via a warm foot compress and a deep inhale of the Antioxidant Energizing Essence ($105), which was as light and refreshing as it was invigorating. The facial began with a thorough cleanse of my skin using the line’s Vitamin C Brightening Cleanser ($80) and the Foreo Luna 4 go Facial Cleansing & Massaging Device ($129) to further aid in removing excess debris sitting on my skin as well as any stubborn SPF from my morning pool session.
The first part of the facial was a HydraFacial – a treatment you’d typically find as a stand-alone offering. This noninvasive device works like a vacuum to deeply clean any dirt and oil living in the pores. Then, that same wand infuses potent serums into the skin to target whatever skin issue you’re facing, be it hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, or wrinkles. Gentle, enzyme-based peels can be used if your skin leans sensitive, but in my case, Domenden opted for a glycolic solution, which helped to slough away dead skin cells and soften my complexion. I’m already familiar with (and regularly get) HydraFacial treatments, so I knew I was already off to a good start.
Next came manual extractions, which were performed specifically on areas I was experiencing congestion like my chin and nose (throughout the treatment, Domenden made sure to avoid the red, inflamed hormonal breakout I had on my cheek). I was then put under an LED light panel, which was set to red dominant to stimulate collagen production and reduce inflammation. The light also had green (to even out the skin tone) and blue (to improve the appearance of my active breakout).
It was then time for the microcurrent portion of the facial, which I was the most excited about because I had never experienced it before. Domenden used a professional-grade version of the NuFace microcurrent device to deliver gentle currents of energy to my skin. Using upward and outward strokes, it helps firm the skin, minimize the look of fine lines, and sculpt the face – plus, in this case, it gives the facial muscles a nice head start for the lymphatic drainage massage to follow. I was surprised at how painless and relaxing the process was, but it wasn’t until Domenden foreshadowed that I might start to have a metallic taste in my mouth once she reached the mouth area that I really braced myself. This is completely normal, and occurs as the microcurrents interact with saliva in the mouth. The odd yet brief sensation was a nice reminder of how entangled science and beauty truly are.
Using that same essence from the start of my facial, I was then treated to an antioxidant compress. Domenden soaked a sheet into the essence (which is enriched with copper chlorophyll, aloe vera, and kelp) and pressed it onto my face for deeper absorption. This felt magical on my skin and was incredibly soothing – much-needed after spending days basking in the island sun.
The next step involved applying the line’s The Firming Concentrate ($190) to prep the skin for the massage portion of the treatment. Domenden worked the peptide-infused ampoule into areas of my skin that are prone to wrinkles (forehead, eyes, and around the mouth) and used two mini (and wonderfully photogenic) wands to create upward, circular strokes and stimulate the lymphatic passageways. This was probably the most relaxing part of the facial, and I felt my body getting calmer and my breathing slowing down as I dosed off to a calmer state.
Afterward, Domenden took things a step further and gave my whole face a lymphatic massage to flush out toxins, alternating between short, rapid movements and long strokes, layering a few of the line’s hero products into my skin in the process – like the Black Diamond Serum ($600) and the Celestial Black Diamond Cream ($995).
As the final step of the treatment, I got to experience the three Celestial Black Diamond masks in the collection: the Lifting and Firming Face Mask ($140), Eye Mask ($17), and Lifting and Firming Neck Mask ($30), all of which are infused with anti-aging peptides and helped moisturize my inherently dehydrated skin. These felt slightly cool as they sat on my skin, which was a nice wake-up as I neared the end of the facial. While the mask was working its magic, my treatment was topped off with an arm and hand massage.
My Facial Results
After my facial, I was told to stay hydrated to account for the detoxification from the lymphatic massage, and began making my way to the spa’s outdoor lounge area. Along the way, I took a quick glance at myself in the mirror and was stunned at the skin I saw in the reflection. My pores were completely blurred, almost as if I had a filter on IRL. My redness significantly declined, and that postfacial glow was impossible to miss. I also noticed that my cheekbones and jaw were slightly more lifted, and that my breakout, while not completely gone, appeared less inflamed and angry. Overall, my skin appeared refreshed, soothed, and firm.
I chose not to wear any face makeup that evening to revel in how radiant and toned my bare skin looked. Plus, Domenden let me know that I should still be able to reap the benefits of the facial for the next five to seven days (she was indeed right).
The next day, however, I threw on some face makeup to test how well it applied. Normally, foundation would seep into my forehead lines and my pores would be alive and well, but in this case, my products glided onto my skin effortlessly and my skin appeared filter-smooth – no pore-blurring primer needed. While the sticker shock of the facial may be real for some, if you think about the cost of each treatment individually, it makes economical sense. Not to mention, the relaxation I felt during the process facilitated the zen island pace I was seeking.