This Is What It’s Really Like to Zap Your Face With Lasers

As I try to update my days with a more grown-up routine—dry cleaning, financial planning, and actually getting things tailored—I’m also attempting to really take care of my skin. Because, yes, it looks good now, but isn’t it very adult to plan for what it’ll resemble when I’m not a wrinkle-free 20-something?

So I decided to begin by scheduling facials each month like we’re supposed to. But I wanted to up the ante a bit: Rather than just going in for a relaxing, pampering experience with creams and steam, I chose to get laser facials. These treatments are a bit more intense (think a dermatologist’s office rather than a spa), but they boast results that last.




My first appointment was at Skin Laundry, an iteration of beauty’s popular lunch-break trend. It takes only 10 minutes from start to finish, but I was nervous that it might hurt or leave me blotchy and red. Not so. I left the office with skin feeling significantly lighter, tighter, and really clean. The process starts with a laser treatment that can be most accurately described as a small, practically painless rubber band snapping across your face. “The Skin Laundry treatment is a combination of a Yag laser and IPL (intense pulse light),” explains Yen Reis, founder and CEO of Skin Laundry. The Yag laser literally vaporizes dirt, makeup, pollution, and anything that is on the surface of your skin. “It penetrates deeper down to your dermis, which is approximately 2.5 millimeters under your skin, and breaks up pigment, helps reduce inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions, reduces pore size, and oil production,” Reis says. “Over time, it helps stimulate collagen production and improves the clarity and tone of your skin.” She continues, “The IPL is more superficial and targets the surface of your skin for improving discoloration (redness or brown spots), killing acne-causing bacteria, and evening out the skin tone.” So this laser treatment is essentially a one-stop shop for all things skincare.

But, I still wasn’t sure exactly why the laser did so many wonderful things for your face. Reis explains, “The laser we use physically vaporizes any dirt, pollution, and makeup residue on the surface of the skin… It encourages collagen production, so your skin maintains it tightness for longer.” So rather than cleansing and just reaching the top layer of skin, this treatment really gets down in there and exterminates dirt and bacteria.

“Your skin is going to naturally look and feel better, and because you are using laser technology, you get all those preventative properties that will allow you younger skin longer.” Plus, if you feel like applying makeup afterward, it looks so much better. Your pores are smaller, and dead skin cells are nonexistent—so paired with an excellent foundation (Charlotte Tilbury’s The Magic Foundation, $44), you’re on your way to picture-perfect selfies and healthy skin for years to come.

After finding such great success at Skin Laundry, I went on to New York Dermatology to try Dr. David Colbert’s Triad Medical Facial. Which, coincidentally is Jennifer Lawrence’s favorite facial. The experience was similar to what went down at Skin Laundry—a short visit, virtually no pain, and really awesome results. Only this time, the glorious outcome took a few days to show up. I left looking the same as when I came in, but in the next few days I started to notice a brighter, more even complexion. And the results lasted for over a month! I spoke with Dr. Jessica Weiser about the difference this particular laser makes. 

“Different facials utilize different laser devices, and typically these lasers are non-ablative meaning they penetrate past the epidermis to work on deeper layers of skin. The signature Triad Medical Facial uses laser toning to stimulate collagen production to improve texture and rejuvenate skin.” She continued, “Laser has become more popular recently as a component of facials because it improves the efficacy and end results.  While extractions and facial massage are beneficial, adding laser can more specifically target imperfection such as pigmentation and redness. Adding light therapy such as blue light or LED can also be helpful for acne and improved healing respectively.”

All in all, I found that while laser facials aren’t as luxurious, they certainly are worth getting into. My skin feels better every day, and navigating through other aspects of adulthood is getting more manageable. (Tackling dry cleaning–only outfits is next on my list.) If you’re looking for laser-grade results at home, try the below products, recommended by the experts behind these facials.