Biohacking has become more and more mainstream as entrepreneurs are making the biohacking secrets accessible to the wider public. There’s one area where biohacking is just starting to have an impact: the beauty industry. Here’s how.
“Biohacking” encapsulates many different practices. A reporter from Vox describes, “Since it can encompass a dizzying range of pursuits, I’m mostly going to look at biohacking defined as the attempt to manipulate your brain and body in order to optimize performance, outside the realm of traditional medicine.”
Many biohacking techniques have been around for centuries – think meditation, fasting, and cleanses – while others rely on cutting-edge technology and data to optimize the body. Data feedback has traditionally been a big part of biohacking successfully. Many biohackers learn about their biorhythms with sleep tracking, fitness tracking, and other apps that provide feedback as to what the body and mind need to perform to its highest potential (and beyond).
Some common biohacks you may already know about include bulletproof coffee, fitness tracking apps like FitBit, and meditation. This field is expanding rapidly to beauty and wellness – thanks in part to women innovators.
To date, many biohacks focus on optimizing what’s inside: sleep, diet, disease prevention, cellular regeneration. But, biohacking is converging with the beauty industry to help us translate better health into a better appearance.
There are lots of ways the biohacking movement is starting to influence health and beauty. Here are just a few.
HigherDOSE infrared saunas tap into a demand for beauty and wellness that’s good for your body inside and out. Infrared light is shown to have many health benefits, and are just one way to hack your appearance while taking care of your circulation, stress, and refreshing your energy.
Some beauty influencers, like Hannah Bronfman, are all-in on infrared.
Celebrities like Chelsea Handler are also on board. Handler told the New York Times that she has a built-in sauna at her house: “‘I use it on average three times a week,’ she wrote in an email. ‘What it does for my skin alone is worth every penny. It is more rejuvenating than anything else I’ve tried, and I have been sick once in the last four years.’”
In addition to infrared’s anti-wrinkling and collagen-boosting benefits, biohackers are focusing on natural skincare. The brand Mother Dirt, founded by Jasmina Aganovic, is based on the belief that not all bacteria is bad: in fact, some healthy bacteria can treat skin issues, creating the ideal skin biome for healthy, radiant skin.
Facial massages are becoming more and more popular in Korea and Japan, where two different techniques are used to change your appearance.
In Korea, Ryu Bae has made a name for herself as “The Star Face-Maker.” She uses a hybrid of massage techniques – fascia massage, craniosacral therapy, acupressure, bone adjustment – on her clients to literally reshape their faces. “The human head has 29 different bones—they're not static. Depending on how we use our muscles, she tells me that the bones can shift in sometimes very noticeable ways. She tells me that the face is a reflection of your overall health, and it is the key to knowing how your whole body is working together,” reported a writer from Byrdie, who visited her spa and underwent this biohack treatment.
Japan’s Yukuko Tanaka offers a signature Anti-Aging Tanaka Massage, also known as “Tanakas”. These facial massages make your skin look younger just after two weeks.
“Tanaka is a process which fights wrinkles quickly and tightens the skin. The massage stimulates the lymph glands, thus speeding up the discharge of toxins and excess fluids from the face. It will reduce wrinkles, lift the face, prevent and improve sagging skin, will reduce pore size, black heads and white heads and will get rid of puffy eyes and under-eye bags,” said one blogger.
Microcurrent treatment has been around since the 1980s as a medical option to treat Bell’s palsy and muscle paralysis. But, biohackers are using microcurrent treatment as a “non-invasive facelift.” This treatment uses a low-grade electrical current to "train" your facial muscles to appear more lifted, tightened, and firm, according to Elle.
"The muscles on the face start going south, just like everything else. We have to keep it fit. So, we use current to stimulate the muscle, starting low then increasing gradually until you have the firmness you would like," one esthetician explained.
The results start to show just after one session, and for younger clients, just going for a microcurrent facial once a month can make all the difference.
Vogue called skin icing “the best skin secret.” Ice therapy or cryo-facials increase blood circulation, minimize pores, and soothe inflammation. Cold therapy can be as simple as massaging your face with ice: facialist Ole Henriksen wraps an ice cube in a thin cotton handkerchief and runs it gently over the surface of the skin.
If the idea of rubbing ice cubes all over your face sounds messy, cryo-rollers are the newest biohack to hit the beauty industry. A cryo roller looks like a jade roller, but made of a material that can be popped into the fridge or freezer and retain coldness as you massage your face. “The tools also promise to depuff the skin and reduce inflammation, bringing a sort of localized cryotherapy to your face. Think of it as frozen spoons under your eyes times a million,” writes one beauty blog.
Take it to the next level with a cryotherapy facial, a process that uses cryotherapy to increase circulation. Cold, cold temps – think below freezing – work on your skin for about three minutes to exfoliate dead skin cells and slow down aging. This type of facial is often used with infrared therapy for best results.
“Micro-needling is a procedure that uses a bunch of tiny needles to puncture the very first layer of skin. This process works to rejuvenate your skin by boosting collagen production, which in turn reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and elevates the overall texture of your skin,” reports Byrdie.
If you’re thinking yikes – needles! You aren’t alone. Microneedling involves lots of tiny needles to give you soft, silky skin. But don’t worry – most facialists give you a light numbing cream before you start. This is a highly effective biohack, with one study finding that just four treatments, spaced one month apart, produced up to a 400% increase in collagen and elastin six months after completing treatment.
Last but not least, facial acupuncture – sometimes called cosmetic acupuncture – uses the ancient practice of acupuncture for a whole host of beauty benefits. Facial acupuncture relies on the same technique as microneedling, but the tiny needles can go even deeper and are placed more strategically.
“While it can be considered a natural alternative to other aesthetic interventions, cosmetic acupuncture also works nicely in tandem with injectables that limit muscle movements and lymph circulation. As Dr Tsagaris explained, acupuncture can increase oxygenation levels though microcirculation which can aid detoxification and help prevent facial puffiness,” reported Harper’s Bazaar.
Biohackers are just starting to scratch the surface for how our bodies perform. One study described biohackers as “the new ‘pioneers of wellness.’” We’re excited to see where this field grows next – and to find new ways to share it with all of you!