I tried the two-hour facial Instagram is obsessed with

I’ll be honest. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a tiny bit of Botox for a couple of years now. Just a hint in the forehead to reduce the frown lines that my recently-turned 30-year-old face can feel slowly creeping in.

I haven’t — yet. But it turns out there are many alternatives to Botox (some natural) when it comes to tackling the inevitable process of aging. But what if having younger-looking skin meant letting a complete stranger stick up to 30 needles in your face for two hours while you’re lying flat on your back?

This is called an “acupuncture facial,” a treatment I’d been seeing popping on Instagram for a couple of weeks before I decided I needed to know more. Early reviews called it “the best beauty treatment I’ve ever received” and “the ultimate spring reboot.”

Cue wellness specialist Stefanie DiLibero, who, in her search for a nonsurgical fix for the unfortunate combo of adult acne and aging, unwittingly sparked Instagram’s most-buzzed-about new skin treatment.

With a therapeutic protocol taken from mentor Shellie Goldstein’s AcuFacial facelift, DiLibero took matters into her own hands and developed the two-hour transformative facial that combines the benefits of acupuncture with cutting-edge technology used by top dermatologists.

“I was nearing the end of my 30s and was looking for a natural and effective alternative to Botox,” DiLibero tells whimn.com.au from the Gotham Wellness practice in Manhattan. “Having worked as an acupuncturist for 10 years, I had made some headway with dietary changes and general acupuncture, but wanted to learn more, so I studied cosmetic acupuncture with Shellie Goldstein.

“Now I help others, as well as myself,” she adds.

But before I was about to let DiLibero stick pins in my face (no matter how absolutely flawless her own skin was), I needed to know more. Here’s what she told us about the Acupuncture Facial.

Why two hours? What does it do?

“The treatment is two hours long because it addresses the whole person from the inside out, not just their face. It brings physiological and emotional balance so that your internal health radiates externally.”

“For instance, if you are often angry, you may have lines that show up between your brows when you habitually feel and express this anger. If your digestion is off balance, it can manifest on the face as puffy eyes or acne. If your hormones are out of balance, this can show up as acne around the chin and jawline. If you don’t sleep well, this can affect the brightness of your complexion.”

What happens?
“I start with a Chinese medical intake to get to the root cause of these internal imbalances that are showing up externally as signs of aging, acne, puffiness & dullness on the face.”

“After the Chinese medical intake is complete, acupuncture needles addressing these imbalances are placed from the neck to the feet. Then, I treat the muscles and acupuncture meridians of the face with a microelectronic current. This helps to increase Qi (energy) and blood in the face, which gives the skin a brightness, balances out fluids which gives a sculpted effect.

“It strengthens the muscles which create a natural face-lift. It also prepares the face for acupuncture, by energizing the underlying tissue, so the effect of the facial acupuncture needles are stronger.”

What do the needles do?
“I place very thin acupuncture needles into various acupuncture points on the face, scalp, ears and neck, which do double duty — not only to some of them address the internal imbalances (for example: reducing anxiety, treating headaches, addressing sinus congestion and allergies) but others also relax certain muscles that, when contracted, create wrinkles, as well as treating the wrinkles themselves by stimulating the growth of new collagen which is a wonderful bonus triggered by the act of needling.”

Once the needles are in?
We wait. “With the facial needles in, the client then rests under an LED light, (a technology invented by NASA) which works with the acupuncture needles to boost Qi, reducing inflammation, killing acne bacteria, speeding up wound healing and improving cellular health.”

How should I expect to feel afterward?
“Like you are floating on a cloud! For the days — and in some cases, weeks — after treatments, you may find your sleep, digestion, headaches, energy and menstrual cycle improve, anxiety and stress disappears and you look lifted, fresh, glowing, sculpted and healthier.”

The verdict

DiLibero promised me that, contrary to the common misconception that acupuncture needles hurt, they don’t. And true to her word, I experienced no discomfort throughout the entire two-hour treatment. The first part felt mostly like a standard facial – a pre-cleanser, followed by an exfoliating clay mask, then a cleansing milk, a Glycolic toner and a Vitamin A gel.

DiLibero described the next part, the micro-current facelift, as “like taking your face to the gym.” She used two tools to work and tone the muscles in my face, which basically felt like I’d plonked my head in a tiny massage chair.

By the time the fine needles (think: the thickness of a human hair) arrived, I was feeling so zen that I barely noticed them going in. Then, with mini goggles covering my eyes, the LED light came on overhead and I was left alone for about 45 minutes. However, it could have been longer, because I definitely dozed off and woke myself up with a sudden snore. All part of the relaxation process, apparently.

“Acupuncture regulates the nervous system, bringing the body from a state of fight or flight to rest and digest. Many people fall asleep during the treatment and continue to sleep better in the days and sometimes weeks following their treatment,” DiLibero reassures.

And that I did. That night, I left my face completely untouched (as it was already so cleansed), hopped straight into bed and slept for a full seven hours uninterrupted. My face was so dewy and glowing by the end of the week that I didn’t want to put a scrap of makeup on over the weekend. My partner even commented on how fresh it looked! (Not a regular occurrence).

As far as aiding digestion, energy and helping with stress and anxiety levels, I’ll need to go back for a second, even third treatment. But if it means I can hold off on the dreaded Botox for a few more years then sign me up for all of the Acupuncture Facials.

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