It's a star-loved facial with needles (that doesn't hurt!)

By Andrea Lavinthal
December 06, 2016 04:10 PM
Credit: Courtesy Andrea Lavinthal

What it is: A facial with needles (it’s really not as scary as it sounds!)

Level of pain: On a scale from one to Brazilian bikini laser hair removal, we give it a five (and only because the word “needle” makes everything seem worse than it is)

Microneedling —a technique that uses a tiny needle to pierce the skin to encourage collagen and elastin growth — isn’t new to the beauty world. In fact, it’s been around for a few decades. But like chokers and bodysuits, the beauty treatment is seeing resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to pros like Mashell Tabe, an Albuquerque, New Mexico-based medical aesthetician who encourages her clients (including celebs like Naomi Watts and Gwyneth Paltrow) to regularly go under the needle.

“Microneedling strengthens the epidermis and jumpstarts the building of collagen and elastin and makes for better product absorption of nutrients,” explains Tabe of the treatment benefits. “It’s like cheating time.”

As for the increase in demand, she says it’s all about timing. “More and more women are looking for an all-natural treatment plan that improves the health of their skin and enhances their features rather than change them,” she says.

And despite it’s ominous-sounding name, microneedling doesn’t hurt. The best comparison I’ve heard is that it feels like a cat licking your face. Plus, there’s no downtime (you may look slightly red and irritated, but that’s it) so you can get it done in the middle of the day and go back to work without anyone knowing that you weren’t really at a dentist appointment.

Never ones to miss out on an opportunity to look younger and glowier, Holly and I booked appointments with her. Oh, and did we mention she’s also an intuitive healer? Here’s how we both fared from a skin and spiritual standpoint.


The first thing I did when I walked into Tabe’s sunny Soho space was triple-check that it’s safe to do microneedling while you’re pregnant (I was six months at the time). She assured me that it was then asked me if I knew the baby’s gender. When I told her that we weren’t planning to find out, she smiled and said she knew what I was having. Then she said that was happy to share messages from my spirit guides during my treatment. Some people may have slowly back out of the room at that point, but I was thrilled to learn to my facial would be coming with a side of spirituality!

The actual needling lasted about three minutes. Tabe spent the rest of the time delivering messages from my surprisingly chatty spirit guides while massaging a hydrating gel mask into my skin. If I wasn’t pregnant, she would’ve put me under a red light for 20 minutes to further stimulate collagen.

Considering how short the needling portion was, I was surprised at how glowy my skin looked. But what really floored me was how calm, yet energized I felt, which is no small feat when you’re about to have a baby. My verdict: Who needs a therapist when you have an intuitive facialist?


Andrea was the microneedling pioneer. I was compelled to make the appointment only after she sung Mashell’s praises—that means a lot coming from a beauty gal. And while I do love a good facial, I wanted to meet Mashell for some intuitive healing and see how she combined that with skincare. Going into it, the glowing skin thing was just a bonus.

Upon arrival I made her aware of my mission and she asked permission to speak to my spiritual guides, relayed messages of some and released others. Believe me, I didn’t need him around anyway. It was a great way to ease into relaxation mode and her intuitive insights made complete sense. As the skincare portion started, I warned her that a chemical peel had recently burned me and she promised to take it easy. I hate to disagree, but that cat’s-tongue feeling analogy doesn’t quite hold true for me (even though I was last touched by a cat’s tongue in 1984). Microneedling is a little more intense than that but not painful at all.

And yes, it’s totally worth it. After needling, a mask and some light therapy my face looked waaaay better. It was as if the burn I had was but a dream and I awoke to hydrated, healthy, luminous skin. Plus, I felt much lighter and a little woozy in a good way—as if I had just meditated for a couple of hours.

Today I am microneedling disciple and in the Mashell Tabe fan club. I’ve been back to her since and have gotten more spiritual encouragement and similar glowy results. But of course she knew that would happen.

Have you tried microneedling? Would you? share below!