I’m always on the hunt for the latest and greatest skincare treatments, but the real madness kicked in right when I got engaged. Instead of shopping for wedding dresses, I was trying anything short of injections (never say never, I’m just not there yet) to get my skin in shape. Over the course of a year, I tried microcurrent facials, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and light therapy. Then I saw Kim Kardashian get the Vampire Facial (microneedling followed by a platelet rich plasma treatment done with your own blood!) so I headed straight to my aesthetician Jordana Mattioli and said sign me up.
Spoiler alert, I didn’t get it. If you don’t know Jordana, please read this. Trust her with your life, and then also your skin. Instead of the blood facial, she recommended Clear + Brilliant. It didn’t sound nearly as fun, but like I said, I’ll try anything.
Clear + Brilliant is a laser resurfacing facial treatment that uses pulsating beams of light to exfoliate away layers of skin to reveal a smoother, clearer complexion. It’s commonly referred to as “baby Fraxel” because it uses the same technology—just not nearly as intense. After around a week of recovery, you're supposed to see reduction in fine lines, smaller pores, better skin texture and tone. However, unlike Fraxel you don’t have to hide inside during that week. (Maybe just wear a hat.) It’s also not a one-time deal. More than one treatment is often recommended for best results, but at $500 per session I would recommend one session first to see how your skin reacts. That's what I did—given that I didn't want my freckles to get blasted off my face and be gone for good, Jordana recommended no more than 1-2 treatments per year.
Out of precaution, I booked my treatment for a Friday, not knowing exactly how my face would respond. (First timers, give yourself at least two weeks before any big events, just in case.) The treatment itself only lasted 20-30 minutes. Honestly, I spent more time beforehand numbing my face with Lidocaine. You can opt to do without, but do yourself a favor and numb away. Then all the laser feels like is a rubber band snapping all over you face. On a pain level I would rate a 2 on a 10 scale. After the last snap, Jordana applied serum, told me to refrain from makeup for a week, only apply moisturizer, and avoid the sun. Directly after, I was red/puffy so I decided to rewatch The Simple Life instead of hitting the town looking like I had a sunburn. But by Saturday, I threw on a baseball hat and headed to brunch. My skin still looked slightly sunburned and dry, but nothing tastes better than a waffle feels. (Isn’t that what Kate Moss said?)
Days three and four were the worst. My skin looked like sand paper—super itchy and flakey. But again, nothing a baseball hat couldn’t help hide. And worth it, because by day five my skin looked like it had been power-washed. The flaking was gone and fresh baby skin was in its place. The best part was my skin continued to improve—for a whole month. I had less sun damage, smoother texture, and fewer breakouts. Dare I say my skin looked “clear and brilliant”?! It’s been almost a year since my first and only treatment and I’m still happy with the results. If I won the lottery, maybe I’d do it again, but for now, I’m more than happy to recommend it to anyone who asks.
Photograph via the author.
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