Personally, I have always believed that skin care is a better investment than any shoe or handbag. My hypothesis is easily supported by the simple fact that girls get sick of everything. We are sick of our new boots, our hair, our Givenchy Antigona, even our face. Givenchy can easily be swapped via Bella Bag or sold on Ebay. Our skin, however, is not so easily replaced. It is a proven fact that what you do with it in your 20's and 30's will affect the way you look in your 40's, 50's, 60's and... who really cares what you look like after that. So let's get on it and break down the basics. I will preface this by saying that it is a mouthful due to the fact there isn't one laser or treatment that can solve EVERY issue. Therefore, you need to focus on your major concerns, wear SPF, STAY CONSISTENT and I promise people will be mistaking you for Natasha Poly in no time!
First, let's talk about microdermabrasion. If you are just tapping into this skin stuff, microdermabrasion is the best bang for your buck and absolutely the place to start. Our skin creates a barrier from the outside world, but as we age the top layer becomes thick, which is... ugly. Microdermabrasion is basically a serious facial that (through exfoliation) removes the top layer of dead skin and then sucks all the dirt and debris out of your pores. When your pores are clogged, they appear bigger. As microderm sucks out all the dirt and oil, over time, your pores will appear smaller. In just a few sessions your skin will appear smoother, more glowing and vibrant. I am a member at Erno Laszlo, which means I join for a period of time (3 months for $1,000 or a year for $3,000) and they have me come in as much as my skin requires. For me, it is currently about every three weeks and my skin has never, ever looked better! The point of being a member is to have a totally custom program. Mine usually includes extractions, micro, oxygen treatment and a mask and/or a peel, depending on what we are focusing on and what my skin needs. Sometimes it's a lactic acid peel to work on hyperpigmentation (sun damage), sometimes its a super hyrdrating mask because my skin tends to get very dry. If you live in NYC this is 100% what you want for Valentine's Day, your Birthday and everything else. I am in love with this place and their process.
Now, for those of us that are already getting regular microderm, we can start focusing on more specific issues. I can attest that IPL literally changed my skin. IPL (or intense pulsed light) is seriously the best thing ever when it comes to reversing hyperpigmentation, which is the discoloration of the skin usually caused by sun damage. IPL can lighten (and with multiple sessions remove) freckles caused by the sun (a.k.a. sun spots). IPL also lightens redness in broken capillaries (spider veins), and tightens large pores, but that's just bonus. It's primary function is being a godsend for those of us who were buying unlimited monthly tanning packages in our teen years, opps! Ok so, I did 4 sessions, each a month apart about 2 years ago. The procedure stings like they describe it will "as if someone were slapping a small rubber band on your face", but actually a little worse than that because there is heat involved. Suck up the pain because it goes away as quick as it comes. Your face will feel hot after and you will likely be given an ice pack. Trust me, ALL WORTH IT. It's also helpful to think of Kate Bosworth's skin each time they zap you. Lord knows all of the girls we look to for skinspiration are heavily involved. In the next few days expect brown spots to start showing up. They will look like little coffee grinds and are literally the pigment that was pulled out of your skin by the laser. You want this to happen, it means the treatment worked. In the next 7-10 days they flake off and ta-da! For maximum results you will need 4-6 sessions and costs vary, with the average at about 4 sessions for $1,000. Please do your homework and always go to a medical spa vs. a day spa.
If you are perfect and anti-aging is your only skin concern, you probably want to consider Clear & Brilliant. Clear & Brilliant (mini Fraxel) is a laser that creates millions of microscopic treatment zones in your skin, replacing damaged skin with healthy, younger looking tissue. This laser gently pricks into your skin to encourage collagen production and increases cell turnover without destroying its top layer (i.e. you won't look like a total and complete monster). I've done it, it hurts. Not enough that the pain would keep me from doing it again (remember the chant "Kate Bosworth, Kate Bosworth"). The results are worth some temporary discomfort. Immediately after Clear & Brilliant I was a bit red/pink, but it went away in a few hours. For the next 4-5 days your skin looks a bit dry and kinda dull. It feels a bit like sand paper, but for the most part, it is unnoticeable to others. After 8 days my skin was visibly brighter, more radiant and definitely smoother. It's a great laser to use before a big event, as it leaves your skin bright and glowing (ahem, clear & brilliant). Both my IPL and Clear & Brilliant procedures were done by the wonderful, amazing team that I worship at Dangene, the Institute of Skinovation.
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Pictures of Barbara Palvin by Zoltan Tombor for Marie Claire Hungary.