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The Secret to the Glowiest Skin Ever? Your Blood (Yes, Really)

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Have you ever scrolled through Instagram only to be stopped in your tracks by a photo of your favorite celebrity with blood all over their face? No, it’s not a Halloween costume (although the effect is admittedly a little scary!). Chances are they just received a vampire facial. This skincare treatment involves spreading platelet-rich plasma (PRP) extracted from the recipient's own blood all over the face. It might sound extreme—and yes, maybe even a little gory—but the glowing, smoothing, plumping benefits speak for themselves.

Wait, what exactly is PRP?

Hang with us, we’re about to take you back to high school biology for a minute. Basically, when blood is put in a centrifuge (a spinning device that uses centrifugal force to separate out liquids), it gets split into three different layers. Your plasma will sit on top. It’s the largest part of your blood and works to carry nutrients to other parts of your body. At the bottom will be your red blood cells, which are responsible for bringing oxygen to your tissues via your circulatory system. And in the middle, you’ll be left with platelets and blood cells. Dermatologists refer to this combination of platelets and blood cells as the “serum layer” because of the immense skin benefits it offers, like your go-to serum.

This middle layer is the star player in a vampire facial. More specifically, the platelets do a lot of the heavy lifting. These platelets contain proteins called alpha granules (also called platelet alpha granules), which secrete a ton of growth factors. Growth factors have strong wound healing powers, which is always a good thing for your skin. It’s the same process behind treatments like lasers, microneedling, and chemical peels. These treatments all inflict micro traumas to the skin to kick-start your body’s own healing process.

When this platelet-rich plasma is put back on your skin during a vampire facial, your body’s reparative process (a.k.a. cell turnover) is kick-started, leading to more production of collagen and elastin. On your skin, this shows up as plumping, tightening, and smoothing out fine lines. Think of this like the benefits you see from using a retinol, just boosted.

So what does the vampire facial process look like?

If it wasn’t already obvious, the first step to any vampire facial is to get your blood drawn—the PRP has to come from somewhere! Once your provider has drawn your blood, it’s placed in the spinning centrifuge to extract your PRP. Once they’ve isolated the “serum layer,” you have a few options. You can either have that PRP injected back into your skin, exactly like a dermal filler, to stimulate that collagen and elastin production we talked about earlier.

The other option is to apply the PRP topically. This is usually paired with another non-invasive treatment, like microneedling, resurfacing lasers, or microdermabrasion, to ensure maximum absorption and anti-aging benefits. The most popular route in a vampire facial is to pair the PRP with microneedling. Your provider might apply a numbing cream all over your skin, then administer the microneedling. Once the microneedling is complete, the PRP is rubbed all over the skin, and that’s it. This is where those bloody selfies typically happen (it’s much less scary than it looks!).

There’s typically a day or two of downtown. Your skin will look a little red, like a bad sunburn, and possibly feel a bit dry and sensitive. Dermatologists recommend tons of SPF and no makeup during this recovery period. Afterward, you’ll be left with a plump, glowing complexion worthy of any ageless vampire.

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About the author
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Maddie Aberman
Maddie is the senior manager of editorial at IPSY. She’s been covering beauty and wellness for more than nine years. Her work has appeared in Allure, Cosmopolitan, Popsugar, Women's Health, Good Housekeeping, and Seventeen, among other publications.
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Article Last Updated September 28, 2021 12:00 AM