I Got Profhilo For Better Skin — But I Wouldn’t Do It Again Any Time Soon

Whether you're a beauty enthusiast or not, it's likely you've found your ride-or-die moisturiser by now — the one product that you can always rely on to refresh, hydrate and protect your skin. You may have tried cult classics like Augustinus Bader's The Cream, Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Cream or affordable favourite Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. But what happens when your go-to product suddenly doesn't work like it used to? Inject it, of course.
A caveat: not literally, and certainly not by yourself. You see, injectable moisturiser has become one of the most intriguing skincare treatments of late. Known professionally in clinics as Profhilo, the specially formulated injectable moisturiser is slowly but surely usurping the likes of laser facials, dermal filler and Botox among those looking to give their skin a refresh. It's especially popular among London-based aestheticians. In 2020 The Cadogan Clinic reported a 25% increase in Profhilo procedures, while on TikTok the term has amassed 27.5 million views and counting. So is injectable moisturiser really worth it?

What is Profhilo and what are the skin benefits?

Before we get into the nitty gritty, it's important to point out that R29 is a judgement-free zone. Opting for injectables or other beauty treatments is an individual choice. We like to bring you the facts so that you can make informed decisions should you wish to go ahead. Consultant oculoplastic and ophthalmic surgeon Dr Elizabeth Hawkes, who specialises in advanced facial aesthetics, explained that Profhilo or injectable moisturiser is another way of delivering the hydrating and skin-plumping ingredient hyaluronic acid into the skin. Hyaluronic acid is found in plenty of serums and moisturisers (and also naturally in our bodies) but as we get older, our reserves run low. Injecting it in this way is said to rehydrate and rejuvenate the surface of your skin. Experts like Dr Hawkes and cosmetic medical nurse Marie Dolan of Define champion it as a way to temporarily minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and to provide skin with a luminous glow. The major selling point? It's said to take as little as 10 minutes. Here's a convincing before and after video.
During with numbing cream

Is Profhilo different from filler?

Profhilo isn't a dermal filler, like lip filler. "Unlike dermal fillers, Profhilo goes beyond adding volume," explained Marie. "It's a moisturiser — think of it more as a huge boost of hydration from within." Marie added that the high concentration of hyaluronic acid is injected into the skin through five key points on each side of the face. This is done using a tiny needle and typically includes your cheeks, jawline and chin. Dr Hawkes said a second injection is required four to six weeks after the first, and the benefits can last up to six months. According to Save Face, if you choose not to top up the injections, your face will go back to its pre-treatment state as time goes on.

What is it like to get Profhilo and is it any good?

Refinery29's features editor Vicky Spratt is no stranger to skin rejuvenating treatments, having tried (and loved) laser facials in the past. Here's her honest verdict on Profhilo.
"I'd heard that Profhilo was the 'future of skincare', a 'next generation' moisturiser. I'm quite adventurous when it comes to skincare and, while not unconflicted about injectables, I am always up for trying new things so I wanted to give this a go. I wondered whether it would mean I spent less money on serums and moisturisers. The clinician said it would give me juicier, plumper, smoother and firmer skin.
A day after
"My experience was wonderful and I can't fault my clinician. He warned me that it would sting and it really did. It was nothing unbearable and certainly no worse than a bikini wax (the most torturous beauty treatment of all time). I had four injections on each side of my face: along the jawline, in my smile lines and along my cheekbones. I am not going to lie — there was some swelling. Each injection site looked like I had been stung. I looked somewhat alien-like for 24 hours but then everything did begin to settle and you couldn't tell I'd had anything done. My skin did look very glowy within 48 hours, as though I'd just come back from a retreat where I had drunk nothing but pure mineral water from a natural spring somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
"Because I had heard so much about Profhilo — the mythical moisturiser to end all moisturisers — I was expecting miracles. The results have confirmed one thing for me: miracles don't happen. Did I look well rested? Yes. Did the smile lines around my mouth lessen? Yes. Would I spend hundreds of pounds on this? No. [Beauty ed. note: Profhilo typically starts at £250 in London clinics.] Did I actually want to slightly undo my smile lines, which speak to 34 years of smiling and laughing in a life well lived? Also no. On balance, I can imagine this being great if you are older and really do want to look fresher (again, we need to question why we feel that way about ourselves). But I'm not sure it was worth it for me. I'm still looking hydrated but I can't really tell if that's my moisturiser or the Profhilo.
"I really can't make up my mind about injectables. If done by a trained practitioner in a safe and sanitary environment, I don't think they're dangerous. I also see the merits of them but, at the same time, I am worried about the great anti-ageing push and what it means for all of our attitudes towards beauty — and more crucially, ourselves. I think laser facials provide similar results and my skin has been transformed by them. In practice, I think I'll stick to one or two of those a year. More philosophically, I can't decide whether having a laser shot at your skin to resurface it is any different from a chemical peel or from having Profhilo injected. I worry about the messages being sent to young people in particular about ageing but I can't put my hand on my heart and say I wouldn't get Profhilo again in 10 years' time."
A few weeks after

Who is a good candidate for Profhilo?

Levels of collagen and elastin (which give skin its plumpness) begin to deplete around the age of 30, said Dr Hawkes. While this is entirely natural and normal, experts report that the treatment is popular among those around this age or people interested in trying "pro-ageing" treatments. Marie explained that over-50s may also benefit from more hydrated and juicy skin. A consultation is fundamental to determine whether you're a right fit for Profhilo. It always pays to be safe and to discuss everything with a qualified practitioner.

Are there any downsides or risks to Profhilo?

Dr Hawkes explained that there is no downtime to Profhilo but each experience can be different. The London Cosmetic Clinic, which offers Profhilo, pinpoints redness and swelling as an initial side effect but as with most injectable treatments, this should ease up after some hours. The hyaluronic acid gel is temporary and should you really not like the results, it is possible to dissolve this with an injection of hyaluronidase, which breaks down hyaluronic acid.

Is there anything else I should know before getting Profhilo?

Injectables are a personal choice. As always, it's important to do as much research as you can and to settle on a properly qualified injector. Websites like Glowday and Save Face are helpful and can point you in the direction of trusted experts.
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