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Isamaya Ffrench: A love letter to my skin

TextIsamaya Ffrench

Dazed Beauty’s Creative Director on why she wanted to erase the past with PRP Therapy

This isn’t actually a love letter to my skin - it's more of an apology.  An attempt to express and re-evaluate my relationship with myself via the fragile membrane that encapsulates my delicate organs and emotional centre.

This isn’t going to be one of those “‘your skin is the biggest organ in your body so look after it!” pieces; I don’t want to go down a science-y route, I want to keep it romantic. It deserves an emotional temperament.

When people talk about skin, sometimes there is the tendency to trivialise it, as something superficial, especially when talking about improving it. Facials, make-up, lasers, botox, filler, injectables, massage, lymphatic drainage, tanning, no-tanning. It opens up conversations about celebrities, the media, dissatisfaction with how you look, money, wealth, fame, unhappiness. But it’s about so much more. Your skin carries memories, trauma, history. It is the physical manifestation of your lived experience and emotional state, a portal allowing you and others a glimpse into your past and present, emotionally and physically.

"Keeping that side of my face as it was represented a kind of semi masochistic attitude"

Evidence of acne, scarring, tattoos, self-harm, injury, loss, bullying, disease, sleep deprivation, childbearing, age, mental health can all be traced on your skin, as many of these can on mine. Which is something that can be painful to accept, that your actions and experiences are now a permanent emblem on your outer shell, visible to everyone. Your skin is part of what shapes you and your identity. Take a good look at your skin and acknowledge the rich history that it narrates it. It can be painful.  

One side of my face is scarred. Not too discernible to my friends or people I meet, but I know it’s there. It is exacerbated by age, and as I get older it’s not only a gentle reminder of my own mortality but also of the self-inflicted trauma that led to these markings.

In a twisted way, I kind of didn’t want to get rid of it. Keeping that side of my face as it was represented a kind of semi masochistic attitude - a reminder of what I did to myself. I’m good at covering it up. I’m a make-up artist! But my relationship with my body has changed dramatically since my youth and, although it’s an important part of my history, I don’t feel like that time of my life is a relatable part of me anymore. So last week I decided to visit my facialist and friend Jasmina Vico, who is currently training in PRP facials, to ask her about resurfacing the right side of my face (using my own plasma no less!)

"For me, this whole process wasn’t about “looking better”. It was about letting go of my past."

PRP Therapy or Collagen Induction Therapy involves injecting one’s plasma back into the skin to rejuvenate the targeted area by promoting epidermal stimulation and the growth of collagen - essentially regenerating new skin and resurfacing the old. Side note: You do come out looking like you’ve had severe windburn for a day or two, but the following week, your skin has literally transformed.

It’s a slow process… Kim Kardashian broke the internet with her Vampire Facial, which is the same thing - she just sensationalised the procedure by keeping the red stuff on her face. Normally, the blood extraction and separation takes 15 minutes alone before covering your face with a strong numbing cream. After which comes the micro-needling, which involves piercing the skin hundreds of times over with a pen-like machine and can take anywhere from 30 mins to one hour before the plasma is then massaged back into your face. A bit of bruising can happen and you should use a strong SPF for a few days while your skin recovers but nothing too extreme.

The aftermath was strange. On the one hand, my skin looked so much better but on the other, I had to say goodbye to a part of me. I felt a bit emotional.

Understanding why you’re doing something that directly affects your face is important. Botox, injectables and other treatments are basically throw away these days and sadly often the desire to use them comes from a somewhat unhappy place. For me, though, this whole process wasn’t about “looking better”. It was about letting go of my past. As I approach 30, I’m beginning to reassess where I come from and try and work out where I’m going. Growing up, basically.

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