What You've Always Wondered About Expensive Celeb Treatments

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Every time we hear about a celebrity test-driving a strange new treatment, our interest is immediately piqued. Just look at Michael Phelps and his cupping marks, or Kim Kardashian and her vampire facials. Since these stars are able to afford the best, these out-of-the-box procedures have to be the gold standard — right?

Well, not always. There are plenty of celebrity-endorsed treatments that professionals have routinely dismissed. So before you start pinching pennies to save up for leech therapy or make your appointment for a placenta facial, arm yourself with the facts and figures. Ahead, we lay out a few of these 1% beauty treatments and spit some truths. In short, don't go wrapping yourself in a sweat burrito just yet.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Treatment: The Vampire Facial

Who Uses It: Kim Kardashian

The Claim: Vampire facials (also called PRP, or Platelet-Rich Plasma injections) are supposed to help remove fine lines and wrinkles by using the plasma from your own blood.

The Truth: Platelets are beneficial in healing soft tissue and wounds, and studies have shown that PRP injections improve function and decrease pain in elbow, wrist, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle tendonosis. However, there haven't been studies proving their effectiveness in reducing wrinkles. A lot of vampire facials also tend to have fillers as a piggy-back procedure, and fillers do fill wrinkles — so that's likely where those results come from.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Treatment: The Sweat Wrap

Who Uses It: Selena Gomez

The Claim: Infrared heat wraps are supposed to work wonders on your entire bod. There have been claims of cellulite reduction, pain relief, and skin rejuvenation, depending on what kind of wrap you use.

The Truth: Studies have shown that saunas could benefit people with health issues such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. And while saunas won't necessarily reverse signs of aging that are already present, there are studies that suggest that regular sweat sessions can slow down these signs. But there's no need to drop coin on a wrap like this — just pop into the sauna at your gym, or work up a sweat by going for a run.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Treatment: Cryotherapy

Who Uses It: Mandy Moore

The Claim: People who use cryotherapy chambers (where the temps dip to about -160 Fahrenheit) claim that the practice decreases chronic pain and inflammation, and promotes full-body health.

The Truth: The FDA has denounced the practice. "We found very little evidence about its safety or effectiveness in treating the conditions for which it is being promoted," said Aron Yustein, MD, a medical officer in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Treatment: Cupping Therapy

Who Uses It: Lena Dunham, Michael Phelps

The Claim: The practice, which dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures, involves suctioning glass, bamboo, or silicone cups to the client's back. It's purported to help treat a wide array of issues, from eczema and acne to migraines and fertility problems.

The Truth: There haven't been too many studies on cupping. One suggested that cupping, paired with other types of treatments, was more helpful in curing acne and herpes than the other treatments on their own. However, that same study also suggested that further testing was required.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Treatment: The Fish Pedicure

Who Uses It: Kendall Jenner

The Claim: Want the smoothest feet, ever? Let these itty-bitty fish chomp at your toes. The little guys nibble off dead skin while leaving healthy epidermis intact. Consider it the non-chemical version of Baby Foot.

The Truth: While the fish do their job pretty well, the treatment comes at a price, both to your wallet and your health. Fish pedicures are banned in at least 14 states, including New York, because of the lack of sanitization surrounding them. It's nearly impossible to clean the fish tanks after each person uses them, and it's absolutely impossible to sanitize the fish themselves without killing them. So if the person before you has a foot fungus that a fish latched on to, and that bacteria is still hanging out in the fish itself, it can then transfer to you. Nasty.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Treatment: Bee-Sting Therapy

Who Uses It: Gwyneth Paltrow

The Claim: The treatment, called apitherapy, is an ancient therapy in which the client is stung by bees. The venom left behind in the stinger allegedly helps to reduce inflammation on scarring. People who go through apitherapy can be stung as many as 80 times in one day. Ouch.

The Truth: We're putting apitherapy in the "Definitely Don't Try It" camp. One study found multiple risks involved — in fact, compared with normal saline injections, bee-venom acupuncture showed a significantly increased risk of adverse effects. And there's been no definitive proof of a decrease in inflammation. "I do not recommend bee stings as anti-inflammatory agents to patients," Gary Goldenberg, MD, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC told Heath magazine. "Many patients are severely allergic to bee stings and may not know it."
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Treatment: Leech Therapy

Who Uses It: Demi Moore

The Claim: Leeches are placed on your face and/or other parts of your body (are you squirming yet?) in order to help alleviate a whole host of skin issues. Leech saliva contains a variety of bioactive peptides and proteins that are allegedly beneficial for the skin.

The Truth: Don't worry — you don't need to go swimming in a leech-filled stream for gorgeous skin. There have been no scientific studies supporting the benefit of leech saliva in skin care. In fact, the pros far outweigh the cons — improper use of leeches can result in permanent scarring, infections, and excess blood loss.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Treatment: Evian Water Bath

Who Uses It: Serena Williams

The Claim: Certain hotels, like the Hotel Victor in South Beach, Miami, offer the treatment — in which 1,000 bottles of Evian are poured into a bath in hopes of "purifying the skin."

The Truth: Unfortunately, bottled mineral water doesn't really do much to "purify" your skin (which doesn't actually mean anything, by the way). If you're looking for water that does help your skin, check out one of these fancy bottles.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Treatment: The Placenta Facial

Who Uses It: Harry Styles

The Claim: Placenta facials use stem cells in order to ramp up collagen production and help skin "rejuvenation."

The Truth: There isn't much evidence that placenta, or the stem cells involved, are beneficial to the skin. In fact, there is actually evidence that putting placenta on your face can be harmful. "There is a small amount of research that claims placental products moisturize and tighten skin, but there is also evidence that claims the estrogen present in placenta may cause problems," David Bank, MD, a dermatologist in New York, told Allure.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Treatment: Face-Taping

Who Uses It: Lady Gaga

The Claim: Consider this the non-invasive face lift. Stars like Gaga and Cher use special tape to lift the skin on their faces, smoothing out wrinkles in the process. FYI: It's also a technique used by drag queens.

The Truth: The Mirror has reported that face-taping can cause serious, long-term problems. "By taping your face tight, you are reducing the circulation, which means there are less nutrients getting to the skin, so abnormal collagen will be produced," Jeya Prakash, a plastic surgeon in London, told the publication. He said that this abnormal collagen production can actually speed up the aging process.
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