Clinical Luxury

We Tried It: A $1,450 Facial That's Beloved by Celebrities

The AquaGold treatment—a mixture of vitamins, serums and fillers—is known as the "red carpet facial" for a reason.

By Heather Dunhill January 20, 2020

Sarasota Facial Aesthetics is the first spa in Sarasota to offer AquaGold—aka the "red carpet facial."

Image: Shutterstock

My efforts to combat facial gravity are unending. Plus, it’s January and my skin needs a reboot after the holidays thanks to all that festive but dehydrating imbibing and some cold-weather travel. So I did what in-the-know Sarasotans do: I called medical aesthetician Kimberly Marlow at Sarasota Facial Aesthetics, the woman with all the complexion-perfecting answers. It was no surprise that she knew just what I needed.

Before I go into the details, here’s why Marlow is known as a skin-whisperer. For more than two decades, she’s upped the ante on skincare in Sarasota. In fact, back in the day, she was tapped by visionary Lou Mettler to open the first day spa in the city. She’s traveled the country educating herself, ultimately landing on the medical side of the biz—and  thecutting edge of skincare.

Which leads me to my miracle treatment, which is called AquaGold.

Not only is AquaGold the first facial of its kind in terms of technology, but Marlow was the first to bring the treatment to Sarasota. AquaGold is a high-tech device that spent seven years in clinical trials. It delivers 1,200-2,000 micro-injections per minute using hollow "microchannels," or needles, and is designed to deliver tiny doses of a bespoke skincare cocktail just under the dermis. (Think of it as tiny needles "stamping" your face and injecting a serum.) The needles are each thinner than a human hair and made of 20-24k gold, which lessens the ouch factor (it’s prickly but tolerable). The end result is plump, tightened skin that truly looks airbrushed.   

The AquaGold device, which "stamps” a mix of Botox, filler and vitamins into the skin using gold needles, or micro-channels.

And, if you’re a person of a certain age with orange peel or crepe-like skin setting in—well, until AquaGold, there was no effective way to combat it. Not even traditional fillers would do the trick, because they go too deep into the skin to improve the look. AquaGold needles penetrate just 0.6mm in depth.

So, what should you actually expect?

Well, after you take to Marlow's cloud-like table under a hypnotic crystal chandelier, she assesses your needs and crafts that futuristic miracle dew I mentioned, which is then stamped into the face, neck and décolleté. Mine was the platinum version ($1,450), a blend of Vitamin C to brighten and diminish brown spots; Botox to freeze fine lines and reduces pores; Juvederm Ultra XC, which softens lines (Marlow calls this the “Mac Daddy good stuff”); and the holy grail of skincare: hyaluronic acid, for volume and hydration. A note: clear your schedule for the day and evening because you’ll go home splotchy, with crystallized Vitamin C on your face and neck. Consider it permission to curl up on the couch with popcorn and Netflix.

Marlow also sends you off with a take home kit (such a nice touch!). Six hours after your treatment, you’ll brush off the crystals with the provided cotton pads, splash cold water on your neck, face and décolleté, then apply a James Bond-like refreshing 24k collagen crystal mask for 20 minutes. Easy peasy. 

The AquaGold's recommended protocol is three treatments spaced one month apart, then one each quarter. However, it’s also referred to by celebs as the “red carpet facial,” and is equally effective as a one-and-done treatment. As of this posting, I’m one month post-experience and my skin is still bright, healthy, smooth and receiving compliments. 

Oh, and by the way, Sarasota Facial Aesthetics has a fresh and chic new space, designed by cool girl Melissa DeMore, on South Osprey Avenue, and it also has client parking on the side of the building (rare in Southside Village!). You’ll know it by its gorgeous purple floral mural by local artist David Lee.

Sarasota Facial Aesthetics is located at 1806 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota. For more information, call (941) 955-8384. 

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