I Tried a $1,600 "Liquid Facelift" — Was It Worth It?

When I learned that The Spa at The Peninsula Beverly Hills offers a $1,600 facial called the “Liquid Surgery Facial,” my inner luxury-lover was itching to try. After all, who better understands the luxury niche than the highly-discerning clientele of a five-star hotel? More importantly, my inner beauty editor wondered: what could possibly make a facial that expensive? Curiosity got the better of me, and I booked a treatment STAT, eager to find out what could justify a $1,409 eye cream that is a best-seller at the spa.

The facial features the German skin-care Line, MBR Cosmetics, which stands for Medical Beauty Research. It is known for its meticulous sourcing of ultra-potent ingredients, many of which are patented, and its product development with surgeons, chemists, pharmacists, and dermatologists. Because of the extensive medical research that goes into the line, it is a favorite source of post-treatment skin care. Beverly Hills-based celebrity aesthetician Celeste Rodrigues notes that it often used by the pre- and post-op plastic surgery she treats, and it is one of the prestige lines curated by celebrity aesthetician Joanna Czech at her spas, whose clients include celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Aniston.

The facial itself is named for the line’s hero product, the Liquid Surgery Serum, which costs a whopping $1,983. As I learned, the serum works by interacting with the cellular metabolism — or cell aging — process. “This serum is based on a medical synthetic oxygen carrier, which acts like a hemoglobin substitute to replace excess carbon dioxide with pure oxygen,” says medical aesthetician Amy Peterson, founder of Miami medspa Skincare by Amy Peterson.

Whereas carbon dioxide is a byproduct of the cellular metabolism process, oxygen fuels it by producing ATP; basically, this pricy potion is kind of like cellular longevity in a bottle. Peterson adds that the serum also includes neurotoxin-mimicking Syn Ake to soften the creasing formed by repeated muscle movements, and the peptide complex Trylagen which supports the collagen life cycle.

So, does the high-end facial live up to the price tag? Keep reading to find out.

What Goes Into the Liquid Facelift Facial?

I arrived at the Spa at the Peninsula Beverly Hills ready to have my life changed by the two-hour facial. I was not feeling particularly optimistic because my skin had a couple of breakouts due to my extremely high stress levels, and my nose was red and chafed. My facialist, Angela Mahgerefteh, began by cleansing my skin with the line’s Two in One Cleanser ($98) and Enzyme Cleansing Booster ($262). This is a powder cleanser and a best-seller from the line that is beloved for the way the enzymes gently exfoliate the skin to purify the pores. I also got to experience the Hydrating and Lifting Toner ($380), which an aesthetician at The Peninsula had told me is her favorite toner of all time.

Peterson explains that it contains the Fibroboost complex for anti-aging (by targeting the skin cells’ fibroblasts, which are the cellular components responsible for making collagen and elastin), IBR Pristinizer to protect against environmental aggressors, and MSM for a dose of sulfur.

Next came an extensive facial massage — something that was much-needed considering how stressful my morning had been. The line’s products were worked into my skin in gentle strokes so that their high-tech ingredients could begin to work their magic, like the exfoliant Beta Enzyme Treatment ($89) and regenerative Tissue Activator Serum ($267). Peterson says the Tissue Activator Serum is one of the most popular picks pre- and post-op for the way it promotes the formation and generation of collagen tissue fibers.

In addition to stimulating my facial lymph and promoting my skin’s circulation, both of which can be hindered by stress, I felt myself relaxing deeply. At some point, I ceased to take note of the different steps as she performed gentle extractions on my skin and prepared a cooling algae mask. After asking whether or not I am claustrophobic, she applied the mask over my eyes and lips where I soaked up its cooling, calming, and anti-inflammatory benefits.

While I rested under the mask, whose cooling presence was actually quite calming, she applied lotion and massaged my arms, hands, and feet. I’ve had facials before where my hands were massaged or hydrated, but never as extensively as this. I was especially excited to have my neck and décolleté treated, as MBR’s neck and bust creams are noted for their visible results.

Once the mask was removed, I was placed underneath a light panel for some LED therapy. As I was experiencing an active breakout, she opted for anti-bacterial blue light. Then came the facial’s namesake serum, which is so potent that you really only need a little bit, the famous eye cream, and some lip balm.

My “Liquid Facelift” Results

After the facial, I was so relaxed that I could barely process whatever was happening on my skin. Instead, I sipped on ginger tea and ate a gluten free brownie in the sitting area (OK, two). I will be the first person to tell you that the relaxation response is an important and valid reason to consider spa-going to be self-care, and it was very much needed in my state. (As anyone that has undergone home renovations while living there will tell you, it’s not easy.)

By night, I received a compliment on how “glowy” my skin looked. That’s when I looked in the mirror and noticed that my complexion did look brighter than usual, so much so that I felt like I was wearing makeup while completely devoid of even concealer. This, Peterson explains, is thanks to all the exfoliating enzymes the facial contained, which removed dead skin cells and hydrated the new layer underneath.

The glow continued on the next morning, which was when I was really wow-ed. In addition to the big glow energy, the two breakouts that my facialist had extracted were healed — much more quickly than usual, and without even applying a hydrocolloid patch. That’s when I truly started to get a sense of just how potent these facial products were.

The fact is that the ultra-pricy and ultra-potent line is intended for more mature skin that mine, making this facial more like an exciting treat. But there are also more affordable products from the range that Peterson recommends for people in my age group: the Enzyme Cleansing Booster ($262); Cytoline Eyecare Firming Concentrate ($139), which is like a serum for the eyes; and the pigment-correcting CEA Luminous Pearl Extreme ($379).

The good news is that The Spa at the Peninsula Beverly Hills offers a shorter, hourlong MBR facial at the spa, so you do not have to shell out $1,600 to experience this facial. But considering how desperately I needed my nervous system to reset, and how holistically nourishing the experience was (my facialist even offered me “motherly advice” before I left), reveling in the lap of Beverly Hills luxury reminded me of what I have always loved about facials. Luxury or not, skin care and facials are much more than just aesthetics; within the field of beauty there is science, innovation, and above all, self-care.

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