Vampire Facial, Sheet Masks, and Probiotic Skincare: Toss It or Try It?

You saw it on Instagram (or via a celebrity) but is it worth trying out? There are so many spring beauty trends people will be buzzing about soon, from the oh-so-popular sheet masks to vampire facials, to probiotic skincare. But are they worth it? Are they healthy? Are some of them simply smoke and mirrors?

Before you spend a single penny on the “next big thing” OR risk your skin’s health, I want to share with you my first ever live appearance on Cheddar News. In this segment, anchor Azia Celestino and I discussed the pros and cons of the vampire facial, sheet masks, and probiotic skincare; and I rendered my verdict of “Toss It” or “Try It!”

Watch my “Try or Toss: Beauty Expert Shares Which Beauty Trends Are Worth It” segment below:

Azia Celestino and Rachael Pontillo on the set of Cheddar News

I was only able to fit in a limited amount of information in five minutes. So today, I’m giving you even more information about why I decided to toss (or try) the vampire facial, sheet masks, and probiotic skincare. I’ll also share what alternatives I recommend instead for any of the ones I suggested we toss!

1. The “Vampire Facial” AKA PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) Facial

Does this pricey medical facial really mean never-aging skin? The vampire facial involves applying your own platelet-rich plasma to your skin (your doctor will draw your blood, and put it into a machine which separates out the PRP into a usable form) after a microneedling tool pokes tiny holes in your skin. The main benefit of the vampire facial is that your platelet rich plasma contains your own growth factors which stimulate collagen production for plumper, firmer, smoother skin.

Does it work? It certainly can, IF you are in good health and you already have healthy skin. BUT, microneedling breaks the skin’s barrier, and introduces inflammation. The problem is that many people already have compromised skin and too much inflammation, so this could put your skin and health at risk of infection. While I would much rather see people using their own growth factors than those obtained from a donor or other animal source, the science is really early on this. We don’t have a guarantee on how exactly those growth factors will behave once they get into the dermis.

Grapefruit, kiwi, and lemons are high in Vitamin C

Verdict: TOSS IT.

Look, if you really want to try an invasive cosmetic procedure, are in good health, will follow the doctor’s post-care instructions exactly, AND can the afford the $900-2500 price tag more than once, I’d prefer this over other invasive procedures or injecting neurotoxins into your face.

But the truth is that the best way to support healthy collagen production is by consuming fresh fruits, herbal teas, and veggies rich in Vitamin C, zinc, and copper on a daily basis. Berries, kiwi, citrus, hibiscus, and rose hips are great sources of Vitamin C. I also recommend using topical skincare products that also contain Vitamin C and nutrients that promote healthy collagen growth.

2. Disposable sheet masks

These K-Beauty-inspired single use treatments claim to provide better results than the standard clay mask. But do they actually deliver? Let’s start with the pros:

Sheet masks are certainly more convenient and less messy than herb, clay, and mud masks which can flake off and be hard to remove. They also stay wet, which can be more comfortable than tightening, cracking clay masks; AND gives more time for the nutrients to absorb into the skin.

Now the cons: Sheet masks are slippery and sometimes they are SO wet that the liquid gets into your eyes, nose, or mouth which is not fun and could cause irritation. They also add waste. Many disposable sheet masks are made with materials that aren’t great for the environment. Another problem with disposable sheet masks is that many of them also contain strong preservatives and synthetic fragrances which can be skin and eye irritant.

Verdict: TOSS IT.

Instead, choose a reusable cloth sheet mask with your favorite gel mask. If you’re crafty, you can make your own using cheesecloth or organic, unbleached muslin and pinking shears 🙂

Just apply the product to your skin, wet the reusable mask with warm water, and apply it as a compress on top. Another way to use a reusable sheet mask (which is my favorite way) is to soak it with an herbal tea blend.

Vitamin C herbal tea blend with raspberries, hibiscus, rose petals, and calendula

Here’s one of my favorite Vitamin C-rich tea blends:

  • 2 parts raspberries or strawberries
  • 1 part hibiscus flowers
  • 1 part rose petals or rose hips
  • 1 part calendula flowers

Steep 1 tablespoon of this blend in 8 oz of boiling water, covered. Strain (and compost) your herbs, and allow the tea to cool to the point where it’s still very warm but not too hot to touch. Soak your reusable sheet mask in the tea, and apply it to clean skin. Leave it on for 15 minutes, remove, and you’re done!

3. Probiotic skincare

The latest scientific research on the skin’s microbiome–the ecosystem of beneficial microbes that live on the surface of the skin–has taught us to view germs in a whole new way. Instead of wanting to kill them all, we now know that most of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and even viruses that live in and on our bodies help us stay healthy! The beauty industry has responded with “probiotic skincare:”products that claim to contain live probiotic strains that fortify the microbiome. Does the hype translate to reality?

While it might seem like a good idea to apply “good” bacteria to the skin to keep the “bad guys” under control, similar to why we take probiotic supplements, it doesn’t always work with topical skincare. 

Here’s some real talk. Any skincare product that contains water MUST contain a preservative or broad spectrum antimicrobial to be safe. A preservative’s job is to kill microbes and inhibit the growth of new ones. Like antibiotics, they don’t differentiate between good guys and bad guys. So no live probiotic strains would survive in a bottle. They would die off and what would be left is known as postbiotics, which still can benefit the skin, as living microbes can use them as food. Other ingredients that fall under the category of “probiotic skincare” are prebiotics. Prebiotics are natural sugars found in plants that feed the skin’s microbiome. Since certain microbes on the skin’s surface feed on oils, many plant oils in skincare can also act as prebiotics.

There ARE skincare products that are formulated with ingredients derived from probiotics through fermentation, which are called bioferments. These also feed the microbiome.

In addition, many bioferments such as bamboo biowater, blue agave ferment, and red radish ferment (also known as Leucidal liquid) do serve beneficial purposes. They offer skin benefits such as hydration, skin brightening, natural peptides, B vitamins and Vitamin K, and antimicrobial properties.

The verdict? It’s complicated…

If you see a “probiotic skincare” product that either claims to contain live strains, is preservative free, or claims that the probiotics ARE the preservative, TOSS IT.

But if you see skincare products that contain prebiotics, postbiotics, or bioferments which are byproducts of the actual strains, TRY IT.

Want REAL probiotic skincare?

If you want actual live probiotic strains in your skincare routine, stick with food-based DIY masks made with probiotic-containing foods like raw manuka honey or whole Greek yogurt. Avoid breaking open probiotic capsules and using those on the skin. The microbes in those are ones that thrive in the environment inside our bodies, not on the skin.

Additional resources:

My online Create Your Skincare Pro course teaches you to look beyond the trends, and formulate professional quality, earth-based skincare products for all skin types and skin tones. You’ll also learn to custom formulate (which is another huge trend) for yourself and for individual clients to optimize results. All the skincare products I showcased from Celtic Complexion and Native2Nature Skin Care on Cheddar News were made by Create Your Skincare graduates. So if you’re interested in starting or growing a natural skincare brand, and you take my course, you just might see your product featured on TV! Learn more and start today at

Create Your Skincare Professional Edition

I also offer thorough integrative skincare resources and education through the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance’s Membership Program and Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program.

Do you have questions about whether a skincare or beauty trend is really worth it?

Let me know in the comments below! I plan to do more Toss It or Try It in the future and would love to answer your questions about whether or not the trends you’re considering are really worth it.


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