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We Tried 3 Ultra-Luxury Beauty Treatments

Very. Serious. Journalism.

By PRIMER writers

We asked three writers to try the Rolls Royce of beauty treatments and here’s what happened…

Tried: Emsculpt Neo from Dr Saras & Co 

Tested: Anna Saunders, PRIMER’s co-founder

It takes me a few moments to recognise the sensation as the EmSculpt Neo machine gets underway. And then it hits me. Contractions. Lying on this bed, with the machine rhythmically pressing on my stomach, feels exactly like being in labour.

But let me rewind.

I first came across the Emsculpt Neo, which bills itself as ‘the only non-invasive technology that simultaneously uses radiofrequency and HIFEM+ (high-intensity electromagnetic field) to eliminate fat and builds muscle” via a social media influencer, who had herself discovered it via the Kardashians. Not exactly a peer-reviewed science study, but there you have it.

This particular influencer had undergone several sessions to reduce fat around her belly, and declared it to be the equivalent of doing a few thousand sit ups. “Yes, it’s really expensive,” she declared on Instagram. “But, yes, it really works.”

And that was good enough for me. I’ve had two children, the second of whom was gigantic and essentially extinguished my chances of ever wearing a bikini again (fortunately he was very much worth it). I also had separation (diastasis recti) with both children. But even before kids, my stomach was always my weakest link. (If drop waists ever come back in fashion, my body will be ready.) If a machine could somehow do a few thousand sit-ups on my behalf and knock me back into shape (or something approximating it), I was in.

I underwent four sessions at Dr Saras & Co clinic in Sydney and the first was by far the most confronting. I lay in a room with a strap across my stomach, which held in place a paddle-type device, which was connected to a machine. Once the Emsculpt Neo machine was turned on the paddle tapped (hard) at my abdominals. The idea, explained the (lovely) Dr Saras staff, was to remove lactic acid.

Gradually the intensity of the Emsculpt Neo machine increased as the machine applied pressure to me abdominals until my back was slightly arching under the pressure. Luckily, I had Netflix to distract me from the unusual, contraction-like sensation.

The second and third sessions were easier as I knew what to expect (and felt less like contractions). After each session it did, indeed, feel as though I’d done an abs workout. And I came to quite enjoy my 30-minute Netflix sessions.

Emsculpt Neo aims to break down fat using radiofrequency and then contract muscles at an intensity that wouldn’t be achievable during a normal workout. According to the flier I was given, results take three months to materialise. Tori Spelling, Jenny McCarthy and Molly Sims are apparently fans.

Did I see a noticeable benefit? In short, yes. Since the treatments six months ago, my stomach is slightly firmer and I’ve dropped a few kilos. However, I have also changed my diet and stepped up my exercise. The biggest benefit of the Emsculpt  Neo treatment was reminding me what sustained and deep abdominal exercise should feel like. Since having children, I realised, I hadn’t been working my core deeply enough (or really at all). Emsculpt Neo reacquainted me with the sensation I should be feeling when doing abdominal exercises at the gym, which in turn has helped refocus my exercise regimen.

Find out more about Emsculpt Neo at Dr Saras & Co.

Tried: The Beauty Boost from The Ageless Clinic Beauty Boost – Ageless Clinics

Tested by: Kate Darvill, Fashion Stylist

My skin has always been good – a non-issue. Until one day… it wasn’t.

Sometime in my thirties my skin started feeling tired, flat and dull. My tried-and-tested creams just weren’t cutting it, so, I began asking everyone I knew who had great skin what their secret was – and, with notable regularity, the answer was often “Have you tried ‘The Beauty Boost’ from The Ageless Clinic?”

After some investigation, I discovered that The Beauty Boost is essentially a hybrid of skin needling and fillers, which plumps and smooths the skin..

The treatment involves micro-injections of tiny amounts of hyaluronic acid, as well as other essential nutrients (including amino acids, antioxidants, minerals and a vitamin) into the top layers of the skin. This is aimed at triggering the production of more collagen and elastin as the skin repairs. The result? A dewy, fresh, hydrated complexion. 

Before the treatment (eight months ago) I had a lengthy phone consultation with Ageless Clinics, which went through everything from my skin concerns to my current skincare regime, health history and overall expectations to determine whether the treatment was right for me.

It wasn’t so much the pain that made me nervous (a numbing cream is applied half an hour before), but the potential down time (up to a week). The nurse told me to expect redness, bruising and swelling… It was a pleasant surprise when recovery was much faster and a bit of concealer a few days post-treatment did the trick.

The results weren’t noticeable immediately but as the weeks went by my skin did start to regain its former youthful sheen and looked more refreshed. I liked that the effects were very subtle and gradual but with a milestone birthday around the corner I’ll definitely be considering a second dose to really dial up my glow factor.

The cost:

Starting from $350 per treatment (dependant on the treatment area eg: under eye, whole face, neck or decolletage – Kate tested the whole face treatment). Three treatments, 4-6 weeks apart are suggested for optimal results and then 1-2 treatments annually (every 6 months) for maintenance.

After 3 treatments the results can last anywhere from 6-12 months depending on the individual’s lifestyle eg: UV exposure, age, skin type or metabolism.

Beauty Boost – Ageless Clinics

Tried: Thermage FLX skin tightening facial treatment at Australian Skin Clinics Emporium, Melbourne

Tested by: Felicity Robinson, PRIMER co-founder

As I lie in a treatment room, face marked with tiny crosses and a machine humming ominously in the corner, it occurs to me that it might be a little late to ask if Thermage will hurt. “Oh no,” says Jordy, the therapist at Australian Skin Clinics who’ll be administering the treatment. “We prefer to describe it as ‘spicy’, rather than painful.”

Thermage is a non-invasive radiofrequency treatment that promises to tighten and plump the skin by stimulating collagen production in the deep tissue. You can have it anywhere on your body – common areas include knees, tummy and face – and I’ve chosen my forehead, cheek bones and chin. I have high hopes for the treatment, as my resolve to avoid Botox is weakening with age and the jowly sagging I’ve noticed along my jawline. I’m not expecting miracles, but they would be nice.

After taking a medical history, Jordy checks that I haven’t taken any painkillers (I had considered this). “It’s important not to take anything, as we need to understand what level of discomfort you can manage,” she says, reassuringly. “Otherwise there’s a risk of blistering.”


She places a return pad under my back and a cooling gel on my face, then places the tip of the handheld wand, similar to an ultrasound stick, on a cross on my right cheek. The area heats up and then I feel a warm pinch on my skin, like a tiny electric shock, and Jordy removes the device before moving on to the next area. Slowly she works her way round my face, each pulse only lasting a couple of seconds.

Certain areas are spicier than others; my right cheek is the most sensitive, but after I’ve relaxed a little there’s just tolerable discomfort. After about an hour, we’re finished. Jordy smooths a cooling SPF into my face, which feels tingly but not unpleasant. In the mirror my skin looks smoother and ‘glowy’, and there’s no downtime – it’s straight back to work for me.

The beauty of Thermage is that the results improve over the next six months as collagen rebuilds. Four months in, I’ve noticed that the texture of my skin is as good as it’s ever been, and my jawline is definitely more defined. It’s subtle – only Botox and fillers eliminate wrinkles – but I do feel that I look fresher than before, which is what I’d hoped for.


The cost: From $3000, depending on the size of the area you want to treat. Results take up to six months to reveal and most people wait 18 months to two years between treatments.


BY PRIMER writers

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