It all starts so innocently—one day you catch a little too much sun, leaving you with a smattering of freckles across your nose and cheeks. But as the summers pass, those sweet spots start to rear their head as full-blown pigmentation.
Whilst there's a slew of ingredients and products to find your way back to a clearer, and smoother complexion, marie claire puts the Clear + Brilliant laser to the test.
The Prep Work
Before you book that high-tech treatment, a skincare routine packed with active ingredients will pay dividends. “It’s always best to prep skin before advanced skin treatments,” says Dr Joseph Hkeik, aesthetic physician and founder of All Saints Skin Clinic. Hkeik gets clients to commit to a two- to three-week skin prescription before laser, IPL, needling or high-strength peel. “Healthy skin will handle a stronger treatment and get a better end result,” he explains. “It will also ensure the skin is not hyper-reactive to the treatment [and] support your skin in the recovery phase.”
When you want to add horsepower to your monthly facial but don’t have the bandwidth for days of downtime, this face-refreshing “baby” fractional laser treatment helps nix pigmentation, stimulate collagen and shrink the appearance of pores in as little as one session. You will notice a more airbrushed look after one session, but to really tackle pigmentation and a list of other skin gripes, a course of three to six treatments, one month apart, will give you impressive returns.
We book in at All Saints Skin Clinic—a favourite of TV personalities and A-listers—for our treatment. But before going under the laser head, we need a thorough skin consultation using All Saints’ VISIA Complexion Analysis. With a (rather confronting) view of the deeper layers of our skin, we’re able to see any pigmentation yet to surface as well as track our progress. We are then packed off with a three-week at-home skincare plan to get our skin to its most healthy pre-treatment. Back in the clinic, the technician applies numbing cream before passing the laser head over our face section by section. Thanks to the numbing cream, the prickly heat sensation is tolerable. All up, the treatment takes about 20 minutes and is finished off with a balm to help soothe the stinging.
On day one, our skin feels hot and uncomfortable, but 24 hours later, it looks almost normal again, aside from some subtle ruddiness and a sandpapery roughness on the surface that lasts about a week. There was some light flakiness after a few days, but we could definitely get on with life after this laser treatment. A week after the first treatment, our skin looks noticeably less pigmented and brighter. This treatment also gets bonus points for smoothing out our fine lines and improving skin texture. We also like the fact that this laser can be applied anywhere on the body, making it ideal for pigmentation-prone areas, such as the décolletage.
Where To Get It
All Saints Skin Clinic at $380 per treatment; allsaintsclinic.com.au or find clinics Australia-wide here.
If you're not ready to dip your toe into in-office treatments, resurfacing and rejuvenating ingredients like vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids and retinol will be your skin heroes.
TRY: SKINCEUTICALS Retinol 1.0, $127; adorebeauty.com.au
An anti-ageing powerhouse, retinol retrains skin cells to be young again—apply a dot of retinol concentrate or serum every couple of nights for smoother, firmer and brighter skin.
TRY DR. DENNIS GROSS Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel, $141 (for 30); mecca.com.au
When skin needs a boost, this at-home peel combines AHAs, BHAs and retinol to exfoliate the skin's surface and encourage cell turnover for fresh-looking skin.
TRY ELIZABETH ARDEN Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules Radiance Renewal Serum, $150 (for 60); davidjones.com
These capsules deliver freshly-squeezed vitamin C and ceramides to develop your overall glow whilst preventing further pigmentation.
This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of marie claire.