Confession: I had never had a facial in my life before this past month. For beauty lovers, that seems like an out-of-this-world statement. Admittedly, I’ve only recently begun experimenting with makeup and creating a skincare regimen because learning how to build a curly hair routine and finding the best new fashion brands kept my schedule preoccupied. But when the chance came to have a staycation at Equinox Hotel in New York City and a spa session with SolaWave, I couldn’t pass it up. While I was initially nervous about getting a facial (my skin is super sensitive), I was curious about the opportunity to test-drive the facial wand I had seen all over my Instagram feed. Ahead, you’ll hear a skincare novice’s initial thoughts about getting a facial, SolaWave’s wand, and, of course, how it changed my entire skincare routine. But first, a little bit about the brand.
Whether you’re like me and have never had a facial in your life or you maintain a regular facial routine (at home or in a spa setting), there’s an added benefit to incorporating SolaWave’s skincare wand into your regimen. The brand was founded in 2020 by Andrew Silberstein, Fatima Loeliger, and Eli Bailey, and the product was created to be a first-of-its-kind affordable tool that uses red-light-therapy microcurrents and vibration.
Technically speaking, the wand has five LEDs (which emit 660nm of red light) installed in the center bar, and when placed on the skin, it begins to radiate light, heat, and vibration. While there are ongoing studies evaluating the full benefits of red light, it has been confirmed that low-wavelength red light can help with wrinkles, fine lines, scarring, and signs of aging. This is achieved through the light’s ability to stimulate muscles and deeper levels of the skin to increase energy within the cells and promote healthy skin. In addition to emitting red light, the wand vibrates and gently warms while in contact with the skin. The vibration helps promote blood circulation, which temporarily reduces the appearance of dull skin, dark circles, and redness, and the warmth helps the skin absorb topical products.
SolaWave suggests using the wand for at least five minutes per session, three to five times a week. Start with a washed face (be sure to dry your face after washing it), and then apply SolaWave’s Renew Complex Activating Serum to keep skin moisturized throughout the treatment. (You can swap this for your favorite serum as desired.) After applying serum to the forehead, cheeks, and neck, pick up your tool and start by moving it outward from the center of the forehead and down the temples on both sides.
To address under-eye bags, place the device in the corner of the under-eye area and work your way outward. Next, move on to the cheeks, and apply the wand like you would contour, keeping it pressed against your skin. Following the cheeks, do the smile line, beginning at your lips and gently pulling your skin up toward the cheeks. Finally, rub the wand against your jawline and then upward on your neck. Voilà, that’s all it takes to successfully use the wand!
My skincare routine during the week is pretty straightforward. I typically use an oil-based cleansing balm followed by a moisturizer and serum in the morning. On Sundays, based on how my skin is looking, I’ll either do a face mask or a peel, followed by massaging my face for at least five minutes. I try to keep my routine streamlined, as the only major skin issues I have are dark under-eye circles and occasional blemishes. It’s my simple regimen and fairly easy-to-manage skin that’s always made me a little dubious about updating my routine and getting facials since I was worried it would mess up my skin.
Any fear I had about getting my first facial dissipated upon entering Equinox Hotel’s spa—the marble and oak finishes with plush velvet seating were a whole vibe. But beyond the stunning spa interiors, my facialist was lovely enough to walk me through every step of the process. We started by cleansing my skin and exfoliating it to get rid of any dead skin cells. She then steamed my face for about five minutes to open up my pores and prepare for extraction. While that intimidated me at first, it essentially means she used an extraction tool to remove any excess buildup and prevent future breakouts. When she placed the extraction device on my skin, it felt like someone was lightly sweeping away all the stress from my face. To my delight, she said that I didn’t have too much buildup and that I have great skin (which is the best compliment if you ask me).
After the extraction, my facialist applied a face mask while I got the most divine shoulder massage of my life. After taking off the mask, SolaWave’s Serum was gently massaged into my face, and she began using the SolaWave wand. At first, it was a bit funny because it makes this cute little buzzing sound. Eventually, it just felt like someone was lightly massaging my face for about five minutes, and the heat is so light it feels like you’ve found a little patch of sun without feeling like you’re overheating. After using the SolaWave wand, I was free to go. Upon leaving, I immediately noticed that my stress had dissipated, and my skin was glowing. Of course, the serum had to set in to see what my skin looked like post-facial, but the overall experience of incorporating the skincare wand into the experience was so delightful.
Before my SolaWave facial at Equinox, I had a bit of trepidation around getting a facial. In my mind, it could go totally wrong like on the episode “Plus One Is the Loneliest Number” of Sex and the City when Samantha’s chemical peel is a total disaster. But in retrospect, I don’t know how I waited this long to experience a professional facial, because it was such an incredible experience. The next day, I noticed how much the red-light therapy helped my skin’s vibrance. My under-eye bags were gone, my acne scars were less noticeable, and my skin was glowing. At brunch the following day, even my partner was bold enough to compliment my skin, and if that’s not enough to tell you that this facial was effective, I don’t know what is.
Since my professional facial, I’ve made it a point to give myself a full facial once a week. I find that Sundays are the best day for me to do this, as it’s a great way to melt away the week. (Plus, it’s my curly hair washday.)
After I’ve done my curly hair routine, I’ll start by washing my face with my favorite cleansing balm. I love Then I Met You’s balm because it’s oil-based, so it keeps my skin hydrated.
After washing my face, I assess what’s happening with my skin. If my skin looks a bit dull, I’ll do a resurfacing mask to help with vibrancy. I’ll typically leave Peach & Lily’s mask on for 20 minutes, as it gives my skin its buoyancy back.
If my skin isn’t dull but has been dry or broken out, I will do a facial peel. I love using Nudestix’s Lemon-Aid Detox and Glow Micro-Peel because it doesn’t leave my skin looking red. I use two fingers to apply it all over my face.
After applying the peel, I’ll use Vanity Planet’s wand to exfoliate my face. I’ll start near my nose pores and sweep out toward my cheeks and then around the rest of my face. I find that the wand helps get any extra buildup of dead skin cells of my face that the peel may have missed.
If I decided to skip my curly hair washday for an easy hairstyle, then after washing my face, I’ll do a quick 10-minute steam instead of a peel and exfoliation treatment.
After either steaming or exfoliating, I’ll move on to the main event: using my SolaWave wand. As directed, I use it for just five minutes at least once a week, starting on my cheeks and massaging my entire face.
If I’m feeling really stressed, I may give myself some extra time massaging my face using a simple gua sha tool or a vibrating facial massager.
After the red-light therapy, I always apply my moisturizer. I love Peach & Lilly’s Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream—it’s the only moisturizer I’ve found that keeps my dry skin hydrated without creating breakouts.
Finally, I end my routine with a serum. I’ve been loving Eadem’s dark spot serum, as it’s not only BIPOC-founded but also formulated for women with melanin and helps to eliminate dark spots. Since using this product, I’ve noticed that those old acne scars have faded, and my skin has been brighter overall.
What began as a fear of facials has since become a love for the ritual. I am obsessed with the simple act of trying new products and using the SolaWave wand at home as a form of self-care. The overall improvement for my skin’s radiance and diminishment of dark spots has shown that this tool lives up to the hype. And while I recommend talking to your dermatologist about your skincare routine before adding the SolaWave wand into your routine, I will be the first to admit that the wand gave my skincare routine the glow-up I didn’t even know I needed.
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This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.