Is Sculpting Your Way to “Snatched Skin” Worth the Hype?


“I used to drink the Kool-Aid. Fully,” the aesthetician Iván Pol tells me as I lie supine on an organic, custom-made $50,000 Hästens mattress in his serene, beige-and-white Pacific Palisades clinic. “I was 31, doing Botox, retinol,” he continues. Now 45, Pol—who matches the room’s decor in a thin cream sweater from The Row, with a couple of Cartier Love bangles dangling from his wrist—no longer gets injectables, preferring a “very clean, alkaline, holistic way of life.” But his own face remains as smooth and defined as that of the many stars he ministers to: Zoë Kravitz, her visage positively V-shaped while promoting The Batman during the fall collections; Salma Hayek Pinault, her slicked-back hair emphasizing her patrician cheekbones at the House of Gucci premiere in New York; and Laura Harrier, her face as elegantly chiseled as a Greek statue’s at the Met Gala. “I had 16 faces at the Met this year,” the former makeup artist boasts of the high-end clientele that flocks to him for “The Beauty Sandwich,” his proprietary facial method in which he mixes and matches tightening and contouring radio-frequency devices for a tailor-made sculpting treatment that purports to make the face appear sleek, defined, and lifted—“snatched,” in internet parlance.

“I started the trend of snatched skin,” Pol goes on, as he slathers my own face with a generous handful of gooey ultrasound gel, expounding on what he calls “the inverted pyramid of youth”—the slim lower face, defined jaw, and voluminous cheekbones that he had just been flown to the South of France to materialize. I catch Pol as he has returned from St. Tropez, where the entertainment mogul Ari Emanuel wed the designer Sarah Staudinger, to whom Pol gave his special “wedding cake” facial—four “sandwiches” administered over four consecutive days. It’s currently his most popular treatment. “There might have been a little manwich there, too,” he winks, when I ask if Emanuel also enjoyed his services.

But would one of Pol’s treatment offerings be able to streamline the slightly doughy visage of this overworked, never-injected 46-year-old Brooklyn writer-mom? That’s certainly the promise held out by the specter of the new sculpted face—a new new look that is neither too obviously nipped and tucked by the plastic surgeon’s scalpel, nor overinflated and frozen by the dermatologist’s needle, and popularized on social media by a crop of increasingly famous facialists touting noninvasive techniques and commanding quadruple-digit price tags (and lengthy waitlist).

After asking me what I would like to work on—neck, jawline, smile lines, all sagging downward—Pol recommends his “tour de force sandwich,” which takes care of the entire face and neck, and which he offers for $1,500. (At-home appointments, for which his FDA-cleared machines travel with him—whether by car, yacht, or private plane—begin at $2,000.) Working methodically with a slim radio-frequency wand called the Pellevé, Pol exerts a swooping, heated pressure on different parts of my face. After the wand, he switches to another radio-frequency machine, a gun-like hand-held device called the eTwo, which he moves with tiny vacuum-like sucking motions along my jaw, cheekbones, and hairline, lifting the skin further. There are no traces of the services formerly known as facials here—no extractions or mud masks or even moisturizers, save for some “secret sauce,” a hand-blended serum of natural agents Pol has formulated with holistic skin-care specialist Annee de Mamiel that he applies as a final step. I examine myself in the mirror, and I do observe a distinct lift, if not exactly Bella Hadid–level snatching. “Look at the eyebrow!” a friend in her 20s responds, when I send her a selfie. Still got it!

“I think you should do one at least once a month,” says Lord Gavin McLeod-Valentine, when I begin to wonder just how long my new face will last. McLeod-Valentine is, in fact, an actual Scottish lord, who immigrated to the States in the early 2000s. He began his journey in the beauty world as a publicist for the skin-care company Intraceuticals, that early-aughts purveyor of the oxygen facial, which delivered plumping pressurized oxygen via a spray nozzle frequently wielded by Madonna’s longtime aesthetician, Michelle Peck. Natty in a Gucci belt, blazer, and slim-​fitting jeans, McLeod-Valentine cleanses my skin with sweeping hand movements at the Four Seasons spa in New York, where he meets private clients as the recently named brand ambassador for cult skin-care fire Augustine Bader. “The skin likes to be moved, it likes to have the blood flow in it,” says the 38-year-old, who left PR for aesthetician school in 2017, and, more crucially, for a village outside Beijing, where he trained in traditional techniques or facial sculpting. Like Pol, McLeod-Valentine, who is also based in Los Angeles, specializes in event prep. “I had 14 people on the Met Gala red carpet this year,” he tells me, among them Kate Moss, who swears by his $1,000 sessions that include a tightening microcurrent wand and an LED mask for additional collagen stimulation, as well as the nurturing benefits of his own hands. “The manual skin-on-skin method activates the skin in a different way,” he tells me, as he begins to quite literally beat my face, using an extremely swift slapping method (“I’m like a very stern governess!” ). Once more, my face feels slightly lifted and more defined, and once more, I wonder how long the wave of the magic microcurrent wand will last.

“These facialists can help with the glow-up moment, with the wedding, with the red carpet,” Shereene Idriss, MD, a New York–based dermatologist, tells me when we connect over Zoom to further scrutinize the state of my sag. “But if you want to look good day to day, that’s where dermatologists come in. We’re the yin to the facialists’ yang.” Idriss, who concedes that truly diligent appointments with facialists using the kind of modalities Pol and McLeod‑
Valentine are mainstreaming will yield cumulative results, is also a realist about how practical these protocols are. “It just takes a lot more squeezing to get the juice out,” she suggests of the frequency and cost required to see any long-term benefits. Instead, she’s a believer in a “slow and steady” but much more efficient in-office approach to skin sculpting: For a patient seeking the “snatched” look, she might reposition volume by doing a gradual thread lift—in which barbed sutures are inserted beneath the skin to stimulate collagen and pull the tissue upward—or she might place Botox and filler in strategic areas, “in your hairline, behind your ears, places you don’t even notice.”

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