Lululemon, Aritzia, Arcteryx, and Saje are some of Vancouver’s best-known exports, but when it came to skin care innovation, Los Angeles had long been the beauty mecca for west coasters. So when Vancouver’s cult-favorite facial bar Formula Fig opened their first US location in West Hollywood this spring, I could not have been more excited to wave my “(originally) made in Canada” flag.
Known for their sexy green interiors, approachable vibe, and ultra-efficient facials, Formula Fig has been a go-to for women in the offices of all the aforementioned brands since they opened their first location in 2019. They offer a chic experience that can take place during your lunch hour (most facials take 30 minutes, maximum 45), but leave you looking and feeling completely refreshed and ready for your next meeting. They also focus on using the very best in clean beauty products for any cleansers, serums, balms and SPF they apply during your facial.
“The combination of medical-grade technologies used in each facial targets different skin concerns and provides a comprehensive treatment that addresses multiple issues at once,” explains founder JJ Walsh. “This not only saves time but also ensures that our guests get the most out of their treatment — results driven!”
As someone who has had luxury spa-grade facials before but never really dabbled in the tech side of skincare, I was a little nervous to try some of the treatments. Especially the one called “nano-needling” because, really, just how nano are we talking here? But walking into the Fig Bar with the calming tone-on-tone green tiles and Vitruvi diffuser flowing (another Vancouver s/o!) had me relaxed pretty instantly.
“The philosophy around creating spaces and communities where you feel confident in your skin—and not intimidated—was a vital component,” JJ assured me. “From the experience within Fig Bars (they are never bright white spaces) to the transparency of pricing (a visible clear menu board with pricing on it). We deeply care about how we make you feel.”
Taking my place reclining on the cushy vintage barber chair behind a plush velvet curtain, my Skin Educator led me through some deep breaths, helped me unclench my shoulders in seconds, then got underway with those magical high-tech tools.
Demystifying 4 Modern Facial Tools
We’ve waxed poetic about the multiple benefits of LED light therapy before here on TCM and you can be assured this is absolutely part of the picture at Fig. My Skin Educator selects blue, red or yellow depending on each individual and the treatment at hand. “It helps improve mood, promotes collagen and elastin generation, and reduces inflammation (which is why it’s included in all our treatments)”, says JJ. But it’s the options for nano-needling, microdermabrasion, microcurrent and ultrasound in their facials that really drive the results-driven, high-tech approach. So let’s break those down.
01 Nano-Needling | You may be more familiar with the term “microneedling”, a treatment that penetrates the deep dermis and generally requires a bit of downtime. Nano-Needling is what you might expect: a gentler version. This technology creates tiny micro-punctures, leaving the top layer of the skin intact. This elicits a healing response from the body, stimulating collagen production and tighting pores. During the facial it helps the nourishing serums penetrate deeper into the skin and provide even better results. Essentially, you’re stimulating skin cell turnover while also increasing absorption of skin care products used. It’s great for wrinkles, fine lines and hyperpigmentation. Plus, it’s touted for smoothing texture and improving the overall appearance of the skin.
How it actually feels: There’s a slight dull scrape sensation from the slim tipped wand, but it doesn’t feel like needling at all. My skin educator followed this with ultra-cooling cryoballs that felt like a cold-plunge for my face, and I didn’t have any visible redness or irritation afterwards.
02 Microdermabrasion | While this treatment has been around a while, microdermabrasion hasn’t always been the most gentle of facials. Some call it sandblasting with crystals. Formula Fig uses the newest innovation in this type of deep exfoliation with something called a Diamond Tip. It’s used to slough away the top level of the skin while the wand’s vacuum sucks up dirt and dead skin cells. The precise and gentle tool is known to stimulate new cellular growth and give the skin a fresher, brighter and more luminous appearance. It’s shown to be safer and more precise, allowing you to get at those crow’s feet, and a great option for any skin condition.
How it actually feels: Honestly, quite delightful! The only way I can describe it: like a rough cat’s tongue inside of a suction cup. You have to try it to know it, but rest easy knowing there’s zero discomfort and I didn’t have any visible irritation or redness afterwards. My skin felt as smooth as glass for days afterwards. And, some of my hyperpigmentation has yet to return.
03 Ultrasound | Fairly new on the landscape for skin tightening, ultrasound is said to be even more effective than lasers. While it’s different from traditional ultrasound, the high-intensity focused ultrasound used still relies on the same energy. It’s designed to promote the creation of collagen, penetrating 5 millimeters under the skin, and firm skin by reaching the second layer of facial muscle. The sound waves sets off a healing response and provides a mini lift for immediate, and cumulative, visible results. Plus, you get the benefit of ultrasound waves breaking apart the serums used so they can get absorbed even better.
How it actually feels:As the smooth wand glided over my face and around my contours, I didn’t have any recognizable sensation other than a gentle massage. If you’ve ever been for an ultrasound, you’ll know the feeling. Nothing distinctive to report here aside from the seriously VISIBLY tightened and lifted skin I walked away with.
04 Microcurrent | Nicknamed the “non-invasive facelift”, microcurrent technology in skin care is designed to train your facial muscles to appear more lifted, tight and firm. It was originally used in medical care to support patients with atrophied, sagging facial muscles and was quickly adapted for its anti-aging benefits. The additional benefit of lymphatic drainage reduces any puffiness from your night before. The low-level current mimics the body’s natural frequencies and provides both instant and cumulative results of seeing facial contouring and firmer skin. There are multiple at-home tools now available to boost results with more frequent treatments.
How it actually feels: Each treatment will have a varied strength applied so will actually feel a little different as a result. The wand was smooth and cooling during the All-In, but for the Lift + Tone facial the extra oomph felt as though the wand had tiny prongs massaging my skin. A feeling of getting deeper into that collagen while still completely comfortable.
About Cumulative Facial Results
I made sure to make plans the evening after a facial with Formula Fig to show off the instant, visible results. But of course, as with any type of skincare and wellness practice, cumulative results are where it’s at. Consistency is key! Formula Fig offers memberships for exactly this reason. A reduced cost for monthly facials helps you maintain treatments to really see those results pay off in the long term. Sign me up!
Have you tried any of high-tech skincare facials or tools? Share your experience below in the comments!