I am a meticulous when it comes to skincare—be it hydration, toning, cleansing, or sun protection. Lo and behold, every summer something goes wrong and a few patches of sun damage sprout up where clear, even skin used to be. No matter how much SPF 50 I slather on and how many beach umbrellas I sit under, shading my skin from the beating, hot sun, it happens. Without fail, I have to breathe and reboot my skin come fall.
This time, I decided to pull out the big guns and try an in-office treatment meant specifically for sun damage. I was referred to Glo Skin & Laser, a boutique treatment spa formed by two native New York sisters. They offer face, body, and laser treatments for things like skin tightening, acne, cellulite, hair removal, and, of course, sun damage. I decided to try the IPL Photofacial, a pigmentation treatment that employs the use of state-of-the-art lasers to reduce discoloration post-summer. For $150 and 15 to 30 minutes, they claim you'll leave with no redness, no downtime, and sufficiently more even-toned skin. So I tried it.
I walked into the space, a really laid-back, chic-looking spot with salt lamps and cushiony chairs. I was immediately put at ease because everyone was really friendly and the esthetician explained exactly what was going to happen. I lay down, and we got started. First, she cleansed my skin to remove any dirt or makeup and applied an ultrasound gel. It was cooling and felt good on my sweaty skin. I relaxed and closed my eyes. Previously, I was told you can do your entire face or just spot-treat. To get the most even tone, however, it's recommended you do the full monty. I went for it.
The laser portion began, and it felt like little tiny rubber bands snapping on my face. It wasn't pleasant, but it certainly didn't hurt. The light is an IPL (intense pulsed light), which is a powerful, focused light that passes through the epidermis, drawing out dark spots and dispersing an uneven red pigment. It stimulates all the right parts underneath your skin and doesn't cause any damage to your sensitive outer layers. That's the part that really helps with redness and inflammation post-treatment. Unlike a traditional laser, the IPL operates on a large range of wavelengths, making it more customizable and thus more successful in treating clients with different skin types. "IPL is one of the best ways to get rid of hyperpigmentation and melasma because it specifically targets skin cells that contain excess pigment, which will rise to the surface and slough off in one to two weeks," the founders told me over email. "Plus, the results can last a very long time since it's physically causing the removal of damaged skin." But, they warned, it's up to me to make sure I'm taking all the necessary precautions. No more beach days for me, I suppose.
The Bottom Line
After a few passes of the laser, the esthetician finished with a cooling aloe mask to help the skin recover. It felt incredible, cold, and calming, and I could feel my skin dosing up on nourishment. I popped up on the table and took a look at my skin. The pigmentation was practically gone, and my skin felt entirely renewed. They suggested I come back in if it starts to come back and make sure to use free radical serums daily. I was recommended IS Clinical's Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus ($148) along with SPF, as it'll help ensure my skin remains bright and healthy. I left with a huge smile on my face and skin that was more even than it'd been in months. I'll call this one a resounding success.