The Ultimate Secret To Youthful-Looking Skin

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Gone are the days of accepting the laws of gravity and the inevitability of wrinkles as we age. Modern science and technology indeed have resulted in the advanced management of skin’s health, youthfulness, and glow. From topical solutions to in-clinic and at-home devices to intravenous vitamin therapy to non-invasive body sculpting – what you have in mind is most likely on the menu. I have tried all of them, and I absolutely love them! One of my personal favorites is the lasers for their efficacy and long-term results. I would say that lasers are the big guns for serious anti-aging and skin resurfacing, a term that includes removing dark spots and long-term collagen boost for plump and smooth skin, free of fine lines and wrinkles.

What are lasers

Lasers are excellent for creating structured injury to your skin, which in turn stimulates the body’s natural response system to build collagen and elastin, remove skin discoloration (think of tattoo removal as well), and regenerate skin cells. They are scientifically proven and widely tested, and I have a history of regular laser treatments since 2007, so I can attest to their proven results. 

There are generally two kinds of laser treatments and a multitude of laser devices with varying depth of impact, not to mention the pain level:

  1. Ablative lasers remove the top layer of the skin (epidermis). This is not a good choice for someone like me, whose pain tolerance is very low and skin color is darker. I have a high risk of permanent hyperpigmentation using ablative lasers. Search on YouTube, and you’ll find tons of videos of people who have done this procedure. Claudia Glows is a good one to watch as she did not spare any details of her treatment using Fractional CO2 all the way through her recovery. If, after watching this video, you still feel up to it and your doctor prescribes this to you, I think this is an excellent procedure to experience especially given the remarkable results and skin transformation over time.
  2. Non-ablative lasers do not remove or damage the top layer of the skin but heat the underlying skin tissue (dermis). I had done Picosure and Clear and Brilliant procedures, and I had a great experience and saw noticeable results in both. Still, I have a slightly better preference over Clear and Brilliant. Dr. Kirby of Laser Away explained in detail (and in a fun way) what Clear and Brilliant is and what to expect. Letitia Kiu has a great Picosure video (fun and informational) that is worth viewing if you’re interested to know what to expect.’

My experience with Picosure

Picosure is made by Cynosure, based in Westford, MA. Their tagline is “Beautiful Energy”, which means they create a beautiful face and body using best-in-class energy-based aesthetic and medical treatment systems. For the body, they have various products to tone and tighten the skin and muscle, melt away the fat, contour the body into a beautiful silhouette, remove unwanted hair, and address gynecological concerns and women’s wellness. And for the face, they have a wide selection of lasers that zap acne, remove fine lines and wrinkles, tighten the skin, and remove dark spots. It is also famous for tattoo removal; it seems to be known for that and hyperpigmentation removal. The fact that this laser type is color-blind was a great appeal to me, so I decided to try it.

Avante Laser & Medispa in The Woodlands, TX is like a long-time friend. I’ve been going to this medispa for various procedures since 2015. The staff is fantastic, and they also give me the scoop on the latest and greatest when it comes to skin pampering and rejuvenation. I booked the Picosure session with them for a series of 4 back in 2019. There was no preparation needed. Although usually, they would advise you to cease using retinol/tretinoin three days before the session if you’re using it. No numbing cream was applied, although it was available upon request. However, the cold air blowing on my face as the technician zapped me was adequate to move on without numbing cream. She had to deal, though with my yelp here and there, as I felt the sensation of heat and the snapping of a rubber band on my face. And I wondered why we do this to ourselves in the name of beauty. That entire procedure took about 15-20 minutes. Then the technician wiped my face with a cooling cucumber wipe and applied sunscreen. My face was red, though not very red, and it felt a little like a mild sunburn—nothing to be alarmed about. The hot feeling on my face lasted for another hour. 

After the first treatment, I saw a minimal impact on my skin. Perhaps I was comparing this to an IPL Photofacial, which I had previously done as well (see below my experience with this treatment). As I had already purchased a package of 4 treatments, I went with the flow. I saw noticeable improvements only after the final treatment. While the entire experience was pleasant, I would not do it again because of the missing dramatic results that I was hoping for.

My experience with Clear and Brilliant

Recently, as we’re returning to the new normal after the pandemic, my confidence in being with the public crowd has substantially improved. I felt that I should go back to my usual beauty routine and book my next face appointment. Clear & Brilliant Permea laser treatment is one of the top Google search results related to skin laser resurfacing. I heard of this procedure 4 years ago but never paid attention because I was tremendously enjoying my skin pen and hydrafacials. After almost two years of not receiving any in-clinic treatment, I was itching to go out and get pampered again. I still used my at-home devices like Beauty Bio MicroneedleTria SmoothBeauty Laser, and NuFace Trinity MicroCurrent Toning Device, which are great for in-between treatments.

Clear & Brilliant is made by Solta Medical, based in Bothell, WA. They made the popular Fraxel (first non-ablative fractional laser), Thermage (skin tightening), and VaserLipo (ultra-sound assisted liposuction). Clear & Brilliant is specifically targeted for preventative maintenance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by aging and sun damage. The expected results are pore reduction, fine lines improvement, and skin tone and texture improvement. I take care of my skin, and skincare is my religion, so this sounded exactly what I was looking for. Not too drastic that requires many days of downtime and recovery but is stronger than the peels and microneedle combined. According to the official Clear and Brilliant website, one of the closest providers is Rivela Plastic Surgery. I booked the Clear and Brilliant Permea appointment for an early June session. Permea is a special handpiece that promises improved absorption of topical skincare due to increased skin permeability.

Again, no specific preparations are needed ahead of the session. The typical retinol/tretinoin avoidance advice still stood, but that was not an issue for me. This time, as I went into my first session, numbing cream was applied to my face and left there to work its magic for 45 minutes. Being a laser veteran, I shrugged off the idea of the impending pain, although I was not sure how deep it would be. Then the session started. There was a fan blowing on my face, not attached to the laser device. While my body was shivering under the blanket, my face was burning up like I was a slice of bread in a toaster oven. That perhaps was an over exaggeration of the pain I felt at the start of the session, but as I got used to the sensation, I felt okay with it. 

I also love that this laser could be used close to my eye area (brow and undereye). I had not experienced anything like that with other previous laser treatments. Obviously, I just needed to avoid flinching or accidentally opening my eyes because that probably would have been a disaster. I also felt that this laser was going very micro on my skin, which was a good thing because there was a lot of coverage. No skin left untouched – neckline, chin, laugh line, cheeks, top of my lips/under the nose, brow, under eye, forehead, and nose. I want to mention here that this laser does not remove hair, which is great given my unpleasant experience with IPL Photofacial (see story below). Before I knew it, we were done. Vitamin C and sunscreen were then applied as the final step.

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Similar to the Picosure post-treatment effect, my face looked like it suffered from mild sunburn. It felt hot to the touch until an hour later. Very tolerable. I could see close-up the micro burns (small brown dots) on my face, which gave me the confidence of the laser’s coverage. That night, I used a hydrating plant-based cleanser that is high in antioxidants. My favorite is Skin Beautiful Organics Green Clean Oil for its powerhouse combination of Vitamin A, B5, C, D, E and antioxidants that were very much needed by my skin, especially at the time. The organic green tea in this cleansing oil is essential for its antioxidant properties and for combatting inflammation and bacteria. It also contains clove essential oil, with a potent anti-aging property that removes dead skin cells and improves blood circulation. Of all essential oils, clove has the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), which means that it has an outstanding ability to fight against free radicals that can cause premature skin aging. I just felt that I had to splurge on all the good stuff to reinforce the effect of the laser treatment. Then I used the Matcha Rose Antioxidant Toner to clear my face. After laser, toner is not recommended for its stinging effect and harsh, abrasive contents. The Matcha Rose Antioxidant Toner is super gentle yet full of vitamins and antioxidants. The gel consistency had a cooling impact that immediately calmed down my flaming face.

The following day I started to feel what I was told to feel: sandpaper texture all over my face. That did not bother, so I went about my usual skincare routine that includes Skin Beautiful Organics skincare line to optimize my skin recovery and transformation:

  1. Intelligent Skin Recovery Hyper-Serum – to provide an immediate skin lift and tightening and long-term collagen boost
  2. Transformative Stem Cell Elixir – to help with the regeneration of new skin cells
  3. Gold Standard Serum – to help with the management of fine lines and wrinkles (plant-based version of retinol)
  4. Bio-Resurfacing Enzyme Cream – to help with exfoliation and skin brightening
  5. Super Antioxidant Vitamin C++ – to help with the healing process and protection against free radicals

After two days, the results were dramatic, in my opinion: less line, less pigmentation, but still sandpapery in texture. As there was no wound created, neither scabbing nor scarring occurred. I noticed my skin peeling at a micro-level, and the area that peeled felt soft and smooth. Like the Picosure treatment, this procedure takes a series of 6 to achieve optimal results. The clinic offers a package discount when you purchase a 6-series treatment. I will come back here to give you an update after the 6th treatment. However, I can see and feel the difference even with one treatment, so I highly recommend this Clear & Brilliant – absolutely no downtime, pain is tolerable with the numbing cream, and expect dramatic results.

My experience with IPL Photofacial

To complete my laser story, I will give you a brief review of my IPL Photofacial experience. During the early days, when I had no idea about what lasers could and could not do, I was offered by a local dermatologist in my area to invest in photofacial to refresh my skin. Sounds good! Where do I sign up? Little did I know that this procedure is not good for darker Asian skin because it absorbs more light energy that could cause hyperpigmentation, blistering, and skin burn. I am a Fitzpatrick 4 (learn more about Fitzpatrick scale and why you should care about your Fitzpatrick number). The first few days post-treatment included darkening of the skin, which subsided after a week. However, there were further dark spots that surfaced after a couple of weeks. The skin did feel smooth and tight as a positive result.

This type of laser can also remove hair, so if your technician is not precise and careful, you could end up losing an eyebrow. This was the case for me: this laser incinerated some of my eyebrows, which I was able to nurse back to health and growth, thanks to Revitalash Advanced EyeBrow Conditioner & Serum. This caused a traumatic experience for me, so now every time I go for laser, I ask for special care and attention not to burn my eyebrows!

Key laser takeaways 

  1. Lasers are better than any skincare topicals out there. Lasers are exceptional and really deliver results in skin tightening, pore reduction, improvement of fine lines and wrinkles, and improvement of skin pigmentation and skin texture. Lasers are better than other procedures like skin pen, microneedling, microdermabrasion, hydra facial, or nano/microcurrent treatments, although they have their skin improvement objectives. There is a place for everything here: in-clinic laser treatments 2-3x a year (depending on the laser type and your skin type and sometimes you could do away with just 1 treatment), skincare topical application to maintain overall skin health (think of it as skin vitamins that you take daily), and at-home skincare devices in-between treatments to maintain your skin investments and achieve ultimate absorption of the skincare topicals.
  2. Commit to using sunscreen. Period. Especially when doing laser treatment. Your skin is going to be more sensitive to sun damage. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 50+ and follow the application instruction, including frequency. Stay out of the sun at its strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. Use sunglasses with UV protection. I bring and use my umbrella everywhere, which, I noticed here in the USA, is not a common practice unless it is raining. Rain or shine, I rely on my umbrella for shade and to stay dry.
  3. Know your Fitzpatrick skin type and learn how to better care for your skin based on your type. This helped me a lot once I understood my Fitzpatrick number because I use it to guide my decision on lasers, products, and skincare practice required for my number not only for vanity’s purposes but also when it comes to skin cancer protection.
  4. Invest in great skincare products that are clean, natural, and effective. You must have a selection of peptides, Vitamin C, plant-based retinol, enzymes, and stem cells that have scientific proof of their ability to transform and care for your skin.
  5. After laser treatment, extra care is essential: use gentle skincare products to avoid irritation and further skin aggravation, resist rubbing or scrubbing the skin to avoid premature peeling or creating unintended skin injury or wound, and finally, drink lots of water to ensure skin moisture. Depending on the depth of the wound, an occlusive (such as Vaseline) may be prescribed to ensure the skin stays moist to avoid cracking or further unintended injury.
Ethel Emmons

Ethel Emmons writes about technology, business, lifestyle, and entrepreneurship. Originally born and raised in the Philippines, she took on a very challenging journey on her own to migrate to the USA in her early 20s. She started as a software engineer and a product program manager at major Silicon Valley big-tech and start-ups. She was a 3-time expat who worked and lived in The Hague and London as a global technology executive for an oil major in the most recent six years. She traveled to 38 countries for work and cultural pursuits. She follows Formula One and enjoys her two Maltese puppies, Nemo and Benji. She is the founder and CEO of The Glam Daily and Skin Beautiful Organics.