Can This Preventative Treatment Cure My Paralysing Fear of Ageing? Let’s Find Out Together

Profhilo review before and after
“Triumph of Galatea,” Raphael, "The Birth of Venus," Botticelli, Getty Images

In a world of bucal-less cheeks, frozen foreheads, and puffed-up under eyes, Profhilo is part of a growing range of “prejuvenation” treatments offering a “forever young” glow with none of the telltale signs of external intervention. At least, that’s what the GP doing my cervical screening told me after I noticed a box of it behind her desk. She’s one of those cool GPs who also does Botox, and she’s stoked to have Profhilo.

I’m stoked to hear this: I’ve been offered a trial of the treatment. While I place absolute trust in the clinic offering the trial, it’s always nice to have an unrequested endorsement when injecting an unknown substance into your face.

As I wince, gasp, and wonder if men would tolerate five minutes with a speculum inserted in them, I’m told that Profhilho is a “bio remodeller” made of very fine hyaluronic acid. It’s injected just a few millimetres beneath the epidermis, where it diffuses, creating moisture reservoirs. Unlike traditional filler, it doesn’t fill fine lines to change the shape of your cheeks or lips. Instead, it tops up our skin’s level of hyaluronic acid production, which naturally winds down as we age, to maintain a baby-faced glow.

Adjusting my pelvis, I imagine C.S. Lewis’ pools in the Wood Between Two Worlds and wonder if, by diving into Profhilo, I will be frozen at my current age like the children of Narnia. One can hope.

Preventative Botox and filler have been popular for years, and I’ve so far avoided them, much to the dismay of my beauty industry peers. In this sub-community, not getting it is akin to not looking after a national park.

Immediately pre-Profhilo
Immediately pre-Profhilo Image: Supplied

In one of my first interviews as a beauty journalist, a plastic surgeon asked me to pause the recording so he could warn me that because of my prominent cheekbones and deep-set eyes, I would need filler in the next three years to avoid early “orbital ageing.” 

“Not right now,” he said comfortingly, as if being rushed to the hospital on the spot was on the cards. It’s been over three years since this prophecy; I still haven’t gotten filler, and I still haven’t withered into dust.

What do I do instead of getting filler? I ritualistically apply two serums, eye cream, a moisturiser, and sunscreen every morning and triple cleanse every night, followed by ten minutes under an LED mask.

I scroll through Hinge, collecting compliments from strangers and not replying to messages because I am The Worst, while microcurrent-ing my cheekbones.

I do yoga to destress, because I’ve been told the stress hormone cortisol can cause premature ageing. Remembering this makes my stress levels spike again, so I drink marine collagen, which I’ve decided works. Safe to say, Profhilo came into my life at an opportune moment.

An Introduction to Profhilo

Dr Naomi McCullum, founder and owner of The Manse, the cosmetic medical clinic where I’m being prejuvenated, explains that Profhilo has both long and short term effects.

“What you get with Profhilo is a product with high spreadability that attracts water within the deeper layers of the skin,” Dr McCullum tells me. “This improves skin laxity and boosts remodelling and repair processes for the tissue.”

First, I have a consultation with one of The Manse’s in-clinic doctors before my dermal therapist Cindy sits me down to talk about my skin (hmmm) and my goals (vast).

Explaining each step as we go, Cindy injects in five areas — under the cheekbone, on either side of my jawline, and around the corner of my nose. 

I have a high pain tolerance and found the cheekbone area tolerable, but the jaw area — where the skin is thinner and the muscle more taught — stings.

The Profhilo process takes about 30 minutes. That’s one of the reasons the rich and famous love it. I was warned that red marks would last two days, and I could expect bumps or lumps that stuck around for a few more. The red marks subsided in a few hours, and by the next day I had only one small bruise near the corner of my mouth. This was easily covered with my Rimmel, Multi-Tasker Concealer ($19), which is to blemishes what a fixer on “The Sopranos” is to business owners late on their down payments.

To put it into a much clearer perspective: the process was longer but less uncomfortable than my cervical screening.

Immediately post-Profhilo
Immediately post-Profhilo Image: Supplied

Profhilo Results, Part One

One dermal therapist friend describes the effects of Profhilo as like “honey under the skin”, and I get that. Within a week my skin looks smoother, rough texture is less noticeable, and I’m waking up looking more refreshed on the same solid three and half hours of sleep. My makeup also looks less sandpaper-y when applied.

Around the two-week mark, I noticed I was breaking out less on my forehead, despite having the same stress levels, and I’m getting compliments on my skin when I don’t wear makeup.

Profhilo results are in the eye of the beholder, though. After all, I’ve had it, so I’m looking for results.

I get the objective feedback I’m looking for in a club bathroom in Melbourne when I befriend two 21-year-old women. We engaged in the requisite exchange of hyperbolic compliments, as is tradition for club bathrooms, before 21-year-old #1 asks: “How old are you?”

Earlier, the security guard at the door had also exclaimed when he checked my ID that I looked like a “1995 baby, not a 1991 baby”. The difference is fractional, but I’ll take it and attribute it to Profhilo.

As I leave the club, I feel like Profhilo is doing the work — but I also have a familiar sense of unease.

The subtext of these conversations is that it is good to look marginally younger than your actual age, and horrifying to look a single year older. I always leave these “you look so young!” conversations with the feeling that my face is a ticking time bomb that will detonate one day soon. At that point, I will lose all power in society and live out my days in exile, trying to hotspot from a cave so I can write “best under eye cream” lists, a topic that will have lost all relevance to me as one of the world’s outcasts.

I comfort myself by deciding that, at least with Profhilo, I’ve identified a workaround that doesn’t involve keeping a cursed portrait in my attic à la Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, or drinking the blood of virgins à la problematic but dedicated skincare girly Elizabeth Bathory

Two weeks post-Profhilo Image: Supplied

Profhilo Results, Part Two

Two rounds of Profhilo are recommended, so a month later, I’m back for a second helping of youth juice. My dermal therapist Cindy tells me that in Australia, they’ve found three to four rounds of Profhilo actually work better because of the high levels of sun damage in our population. I don’t have this problem because I rarely go outside during daylight hours.

After my second round of Profhilo, my best review yet arrives in the form of three men in a dive bar in Chinatown who ask if they could buy me and my friend a drink. (Guava-flavoured Bacardi Breezer, thank you.) “How old are you? 25?” When we tell them we’re both 31, they recoil in disgust. They are probably, conservatively, 70-years-old but blissfully untroubled by their own age, as most men are.

I am left adjusting my American Apparel skater skirt and reflecting on our society’s obsession with youth which, in my Profhilo journey, I’ve realised I’m more a victim of than I thought.

Ruby Feneley trials Profhilo
Four weeks out, sans foundation Image: Supplied

This is why people turn to injectables, makeup, and skincare. Looking good when you’re feeling bad makes you feel — if not less bad — then at least less vulnerable.

Still, I’m feeling fresh, and Profhilo is significantly less scary than any of the treatments mentioned above. Even better, when people ask if I’ve had filler or Botox, I can still smugly say no. 

The next day I’m served a video from a well-known Australian dermatologist who is talking about Profhilo. Apparently it’s an incredible treatment for your neck. Since seeing her video, I’ve been thinking about my neck ruefully. I want neck Profhilo because I’m now convinced my neck is giving me away!

My journey with Profhilo has not left me woker or wiser, but it has left me glowing. And for that, and my free Bacardi Breezer, I’m grateful. 

Profhilo is $1900 for two treatments at The Manse.

This treatment was provided by The Manse for the purposes of review.

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