The radio frequency facial is said to firm and tighten the skin, without needles or downtime. But can it live up the hype?

By Sari Anne Tuschman
July 02, 2019

Skin-care guru Iván Pol has become all the buzz as of late for his treatment with a strange name and an obsessive following: The Beauty Sandwich, which he developed in 2010 and trademarked last year. His celebrity demand is so serious, the LA-based facialist set up a pop-up in New York City for the week leading up The Met Gala, allowing attendees including Sienna Miller and Cara Delevingne to get the treatment before walking the most intimidating carpet of the year. (Plenty of Victoria's Secret models are also fans—and you know they take their skin-care seriously.)

But what is this so-called sandwich? And is it worth all the hype—and the significant price tag of $850 per session?

The Beauty Sandwich is billed as a non-invasive, non-toxic alternative to fillers and Botox. "When I entered my 30s, I wanted to get rid of wrinkles and saw an opportunity in the market for a natural alternative," says Pol, who was a longtime New York City-based makeup artist before relocating to Miami to work as the cosmetic director for a dermatologist, where he created The Beauty Sandwich. "As a makeup artist, I learned how to highlight and contour, and I wanted to give that photo-shoot effect not only to celebrities and models but to all my clients."

With that goal in mind, he developed a proprietary method using radio-frequency technology to target volume loss and wrinkles. The several-step process is said to plump, brighten, and even sculpt, sans a knife, needle, or downtime. Pol says the combination of his artistry and the devices used is what makes this treatment so special and effective. (Related: These Botox Alternatives Are *Almost* As Good As the Real Thing)

The treatment starts with a consultation, customizing the plan for each person depending on their skin goals. Using all natural products, he begins by cleansing the client's skin and giving a lymphatic facial massage using a jade roller.

Then, he uses two wrinkle-targeting tools, the Pellevé and the eMatrix (the stacked treatments are what creates the 'sandwich') that Pol likens to cardio for your face. "Each pulse delivers energy via a grid of spots on the surface and just under the surface of the skin, penetrating until the tissue reaches a certain temperature, which is monitored by a skin thermometer," explains Pol. "This deep energy—which feels like heat to the client—tightens the skin while at the same time producing new collagen and elastic fibers in the skin." (Related: I Tried a Workout Class for My Face)

"Theoretically, radio frequency heats up various skin layers to stimulate collagen production, which would help improve fine lines, wrinkles, sagging and other signs of aging," agrees dermatologist Michael Kassadardjian, M.D. of Coast Dermatology. Dr. Kassadardjian adds that while, in general, lasers typically lead to better and more longterm results, radio frequency can be a good option if you're looking for an anti-aging treatment without serious recovery time. "It tends to be a good option for those patients who would like to avoid surgical procedures or react unfavorably to lasers." (Related: New Non-Surgical Beauty Treatments That Work Magic On Your Face and Body)

After applying a natural enzyme cocktail via massage to increase hydration, the final step is recommending clients take a pre- and probiotic supplement for inflammation. (Dr. Kassadardjian drives home that it's important to do your homework and speak to your derm or physician first before incorporating a probiotic into your routine.) 

Pol says that within two weeks of having their first The Beauty Sandwich treatment, clients see results from an initial "glow" to continued collagen rebuilding and ultimately some reshaping of the face. "We are strengthening and toning the muscles and helping with collagen stimulation to plump and lift the skin, contour the face, and define the jawline," he says.

So, can this beauty treatment really replace the needles many have become accustomed to? Dr. Kassardjian thinks it may be unfair to pit the two against each other. "In general, Botox and fillers are done in one treatment, not multiple, and most people have noticeable results immediately with fillers and within days using Botox." With the Sandwich, Pol promises a "filler-like appearance to the skin," but does recommend clients return once a month for five months for the best results. "Think of The Beauty Sandwich as weight training," says Pol. "We are building and plumping from within, making the inside of your skin firmer so that the outside of your skin is smoother."

Perhaps the Sandwich can't completely replace a need for needles and lasers, but it does seem to be a worthy strategy to add to your mixed bag of anti-aging solutions.