Vampires are known as blood-sucking creatures—only this one injects the plasma back into the "victim's" face. As it turns out, this vampire is a registered nurse.
On top of that, Elizabeth Sommers, 32, adores her work at , a Redondo Beach clinic on Pacific Coast Highway that specializes in rejuvenation.
“I absolutely love skin,” said the blonde nurse, who worked in hospitals for five years before transitioning into beauty four years ago.
With Dermfx for eight months, Sommers divides her time between the Redondo “boutique” facility and the main operation at Sunset Beach, where surgical procedures, such as facelifts, implants and liposuction are done.
In the Redondo office, the “medical aesthetic specialists” (RNs) on duty administer injectables: Botox, Restylane, Juvederm and such; and perform microdermabrasion, photo facials, and a variety of chemical peels, as well as laser treatments for acne, vein and hair removal.
The newer treatments range from the blood-sucking Vampire Facelift to Sculptra Aesthetic (a facial injectable that replaces collagen and lasts more than two years) to Ultherapy (a guided laser that uses ultrasound to repair skin at the deepest levels).
The cost can be high. Sculptra, for example, may require three or four sessions, beginning at $750 a pop ($600 when purchased in a package of four or more); and the Vampire Facelift runs $600 per vile of blood, although anyone mentioning this article can obtain the treatment for $450, according to manager Debra Martin.
The way it works, Sommers said, is that the withdrawn blood (about as much as you’d provide for a basic lab test) is spun in a centrifuge so the red blood cells are separated from the platelet-rich plasma, which is the part injected into the face, usually the cheeks and around the eyes.
Although the treatment takes about three weeks to fully kick in, it produces “a very natural look … helps with pores, texture and tone,” Sommers said, adding that "it typically lasts about 15 months."
The most popular treatment at present, she said, is the ultrasound guided laser. “We do a ton of Ultherapy,” Sommers said. “You feel an instant tightening [which] gradually improves over three to six months.” It’s great for crepey skin and sagging eyelids, she added.
On June 19, the Redondo office will hold an Ultherapy event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to explain the procedure at length, and someone in attendance will win an Ultherapy treatment that many call "the lunchtime lift."
Ultherapy's not the only pricey treatment.
“If you have $500 to spend,” Sommers said, “my absolute favorite is Active FX,” a laser treatment that “drills little holes in the skin, takes care of fine lines and wrinkles and brings up pigment ... the baby skin underneath.” Like any deep peel, it requires some downtime.
Dermfx also carries medical-grade cosmetics, including Tensage, which incorporates snail secretion, said to regenerate skin. Vitamin and fat-burning shots are also in demand, Martin said: Vitamin B12 (for energy); B5 (anti-stress) and Lipoden, which is supposed to enhance the liver by getting rid of fats and bile. Shots are $25 per injection, although first-time candidates are likely to get a free B12.
For those unable to afford the pricier medical-type treatments, day spas all over Redondo offer facials, peels and treatments—many under $100.
At the Beauty Bird Lounge inside the on Artesia Boulevard in North Redondo, Lorraine Rodriguez offers a litany of treatments: chemical peels, body scrubs, brow design, lash tints and full body waxing.
Once a model, Rodriguez trained at the Aesthetics Training Institute of California, obtained her medical aesthetician’s certification, and later “went through Aveda’s complete training course … so I know 27 different facials,” she said. “That why I customize, depending on what (the client) needs.”
Patterned after practices in the Orient, the majority of her facials are accompanied by arm and foot massages, reflexology and aromatherapy: tangerine for oily skin, tea tree for acne, lavender to create calm.
“I do one facial that is an organic alternative to microdermabrasion,” Rodriguez said, explaining how she manipulates the skin with her fingers in a way that mimics a machine. “It helps to minimize wrinkles, smooth out the pores, and lighten up darker pigment spots.”
She first cleanses the face, using a “clarifonic brush” that oscillates and helps exfoliation, and then paints the skin with White China Clay and bamboo shoots, which dry like a mask. A facial massage removes the dead skin and is followed by oil and warm towels.
The manual microdermabrasion treatment—including a hydrating mask, firming toner, eye cream, sunscreen and moisturizer—is $85. (Rodriguez offered a 20 percent discount for any service to anyone who mentions this article.)
She also offers a variety of peels, including pumpkin and glycolic, all between $65 and $100.
“Most are sent home with samples of products used and a home-care routine,” said Rodriguez, who lives in the Holly Glen section of Hawthorne with her cinematographer husband. She opened her Beauty Bird Lounge just seven months ago.
Over at in the Riviera Village, owner and esthetician Kim Smith is all about the seasons. Beginning in June, for example, she is offering a Summer Coconut Facial, which includes a Pineapple Peel, Oxygen Facial, cool stones and massage.
With a background as a makeup artist in films and television, Smith, who also worked for MAC cosmetics, believes that massage increases circulation. Many many of her facials—including her summer special—include hand, foot, neck and shoulder massages.
The Coconut Facial is “a very relaxing facial,” Smith said. The added oxygen “feels really refreshing and makes your skin look really hydrated.” The treatment, she said, employs pure oxygen gas, along with vitamins A, C and E and 87 different minerals, enzymes and amino acids.
“Oxygen is called ‘Facial to the Stars,’ because a lot of the stars do it right before the red carpet. It gives them a dewy finish,” said Smith, who has been in business for nine years at the small day spa on Avenida Del Norte where customers can get their hair and nails done, as well as a massage.
The Pineapple Peel included in the summer special contains glycolic acid, Smith said, a type of alpha hydroxy acid found in sugar cane. It has the greatest penetration and deeply exfoliates to remove skin that is dry, coarse, or dead.
When the acid is applied, there is “a tingling sensation, a little burning, but that’s totally normal,” she said. The result means “your moisturizer penetrates better, (as do) your creams, serums and the mask.”
For the fall, Smith will offer a Pumpkin Facial, she said, producing an open jar of the product, which gave off the scent of pumpkin pie. She uses all “natural, organic creams, toners, masks and peels,” including Éminence (from Canada) & Epicuran (from Laguna Beach).
Her facials run from $50 for a 45-minute “Quickie” to $125 for a “Facial to the Stars.”
Most day spas have mailing lists and regularly offer specials; but it never hurts to negotiate, even the most expensive treatments, the owners said.
Dermfx is located at 432 S. Pacific Coast Hwy. and Sweet Serenity Day Spa is located at 218 Avenida del Norte. Both are in South Redondo Beach. Parlour Salon is located in North Redondo Beach at 1951 Artesia Blvd. in Suite 106.