Originally from Donegal but having lived in Brunei, LA and London, skin-expert to the stars Sophia Woods has now launched her first clinic in Dublin. Amanda Cassidy went to check out her Byonik no-downtime laser facial.
"Irish people love a good quick-fix," laughs Sophia Wood as we sit down to do an overhaul of my skin at her brand new clinic called The Facialist tucked into a beautiful courtyard on Dartmouth road beside the Yoga Dublin Studio.
"But for me, it is all about educating people about the longer-term payoff when you look after your skin. The beauty of the BYONIK method is that it does both - the effects can already be seen following the first treatment."
And it's not like any facial I've ever experienced before.
In fact, it's the first personalised laser treatment guided by your own heartbeat. Sophia slips an oximeter onto my finger and explains the process.
"There is an optimal moment when your cells can absorb moisture, and scientists at NASA studying the physiology of astronauts discovered that it's linked to the millisecond before your heart actually beats. The BYONIK method stimulates cell processes and introduces special hyaluronic acid gels with antioxidants into the skin.
In other words, it is maximising the skin's regenerative process, the elastin can move more freely, and the skin receives intensive moisture and gains volume."
Let there be light
In addition to optimising cell absorption, the skin is also treated with a pulse-triggered laser. A series of paddles with bright lights are slowly moved across my face allowing the hyaluronic acid and antioxidants to penetrate deeper. Developed in cooperation with the researchers at Ulm University in Germany, the treatment is performed and recognised worldwide.
Because it is non-thermal, there is no uncomfortable heat whatsoever. This means it can also be used around the eyes and you don't have the redness afterwards you sometimes have with other laser skin rejuvenation facials.
"The laser adapts its frequency to your pulse during the entire treatment and releases its energy into the skin allowing the products to enter directly into the skin cells," explains Sophia, who has worked with everybody from Denise Van Outen to our own Amy Huberman.
"The combined delivery of the Red and Near-infrared light ensures that the energy is transferred to all layers of the skin simultaneously."
It is both relaxing and satisfyingly medicinal, dispelling the no-pain, no-gain mantra I've always tried to avoid. The BYONIK method is already hugely popular in the UK with top dermatologists and celebrity facialists offering it to their clients.
So why Dublin and why now?
"I wanted to fill a gap in the Irish skin industry" points out Sophia who previously worked in Oslo Beauty. "I think people are finally taking the time to find out what works best for their skin - what will keep it healthy and youthful. I felt Byonik was a unique treatment with no downtime. It increases microcirculation, improves nutrient flow, and rejuvenates cells. It's also suitable for those with enlarged pores, uneven skin town, and rosacea and can promote wound healing."
Sophia's philosophy is pretty simple. "Your time on the couch isn’t just a facial, it’s a positive step in your skins transformational journey back to health. It's the opportunity to have an unrivaled bespoke treatment that will have you leaving exuding confidence and above healthy and glowing skin."
After 45 minutes, I'm all done.
My skin, which is often pretty dehydrated, looks noticeably plumper. I've no redness, and my pesky crows-feet seem a good deal fainter.
Later when I meet a friend for coffee, she comments that my skin looks great- I don't get compliments like that often so I'm thrilled with myself. She's also pregnant so I'm delighted to spill my beauty secrets and to let her know that the treatment is also safe for those expecting a baby.
Plus, it is a blissful escape. I'll be back for more.
Photography by Jason Lloyd Evans.
Read more: What is Reiki and how can it help me?
Read more: 5 reasons turmeric can help your skin