I don’t know why – because I’m usually an avid SPF applicator – but this summer I got a little lax with my sun protection and subsequently paid the cost. All my time basking in the sun like a lounge lizard had resulted in a light but clear smattering of pigmentation on the high points of my cheekbones. And while I’m not one to throw the baby out with the bathwater and lose my mind over a little bit of sun damage, after seeing my mum retroactively try to undo the damage done from years of being in the sun unprotected (and how much it’s been the bane of her existence), I figured I better jump on the issue quickly before I found myself in the same boat. And that’s where the Clear + Brilliant laser treatment came in.
I’d heard celebs like Drew Barrymore, Hailey Bieber and Chrissy Teigen laud the non-invasive treatment as their secret weapon for clear skin and a red carpet-worthy glow, so I figured I might as well give it a go. Skin Renu in Sydney’s suburb of Balmain graciously extended an invitation to me and with Hailey Bieber's poreless visage in mind, it’s there that Coolsculpting Specialist and Dermal Therapist, Jess Lynch, took me through the process from start to finish as she lasered away my sins...
Who is Clear + Brilliant best suited to?
Clear + Brilliant is great for people in their late twenties to thirties. The treatment itself is considered to be a step further than your average facial, targeting the first signs of ageing, pigmentation, and large pores. However, Jess admits as she’s setting up for our session that she also recommends Clear + Brilliant as an entry point to clients in their forties who may be considering other more invasive laser treatments such as Fraxel™.
For someone like myself, who has experienced minimal pigmentation, a singular session using the Clear + Brilliant Permea laser is the recommended course of action. More severe cases of pigmentation or deeper set lines and wrinkles, however, require multiple sessions with a slightly stronger laser in order to see desired results.
Things to know before getting the Clear + Brilliant treatment
While Clear + Brilliant may be a non-invasive laser treatment, there are still a few things that you’ll need to keep in mind leading up to your appointment or appointments. Specifics will depend on the course of treatment your specialist has suggested for you and for your best results, including the required aftercare.
I was asked to cut out actives for one week post-treatment, and I was banned from superficial treatments such as hair removal, physical exfoliation and facials for two weeks. Makeup directly after was a no-no too, but after 24-48 hours (depending on sensitivity post-treatment) I was free to apply my full face as usual. However, I personally did try to stick to minimal makeup and the makeup that I did use had skin care-focused formulas that helped my skin while perfecting my complexion.
One thing Jess was also sure to highlight to me, was that I needed to stay away from oil-based products. And thank God she said so because as a dry-skinned gal, those are usually my go-to. The reason to avoid oil-based products is that they can actually act as a glue that impedes the skin’s natural shedding process post-treatment – your skin will feel rough for about a week to two weeks as the lasered skin is naturally exfoliated and shed through skin-cell renewal. The more ya know, aye.
Keep it simple and drink plenty of water
Lastly, Jess recommended drinking plenty of water post-treatment to help with healing and hydration, and the same principle applied to the skin care I was to use too. She recommended sticking to a simple 3-step skin care routine; a gentle cleanser, non-occlusive, water-based gel moisturiser and sunscreen only.
My Clear + Brilliant treatment review
After a full rundown of all the dos and don’ts of aftercare, it was time for the treatment. Jess began by cleansing my skin and applying a numbing cream to my face, at the same time, she turned on the Clear + Brilliant laser so it was ready to go for the session. She then left me to chill for a cool 15 minutes while the numbing cream took effect, with some informative reading material about the treatment. Though I’m going to be honest, I did spend at least 10 of those minutes trying to get a cute picture of myself in the head wrap, which you can enjoy below. You’re welcome.
By the time Jess re-entered the room my face was sufficiently numb and she began her work. All in all the treatment took about 45 minutes to an hour to perform, and while it is non-invasive, the woman is pointing a laser at your face so inevitably there is some slight discomfort. I’m the first to admit I have a high pain tolerance but I would put the pain level at a 3-4 at the very worst, and honestly, the only true moments of discomfort I experienced were on the outer areas of my face such as my hairline and jawline, where it felt like my skin was getting an electric shock. Funnily enough, I actually enjoyed it when Jess ran the laser over the central zones of my face. I would compare the sensation to the joy you feel after you get to scratch an itch – weirdly satisfying.
Post-zapping my skin with the laser, Jess applied a pigmentation serum that contained vitamin C, as she told me that the skin is optimised for product absorption after using the Permea laser (though it is important to note if you’re using a stronger laser the serum step will be skipped). The vitamin C serum was then followed by some much-needed SPF and a final word from Jess that I would need to reapply it as needed throughout the rest of the day, as my skin would be photosensitive post-treatment.
Directly after having the treatment my face felt sunburnt, but this dissipated about an hour after my appointment. My skin did get redder post-treatment, but my skin has a tendency to throw red after any facial treatment that I receive so this wasn’t something I was necessarily concerned about. Sure enough, when I woke up the next morning the redness was completely gone.
And the results? Drum roll please…
Well, well, well… to say that I’m impressed with my results is kind of an understatement. I mean, excuse my chapped lips and the hormonal pimple hanging out on my chin, but I think it’s pretty clear that the pigmentation I was concerned about has officially buggered off. Not only that, but my pores are looking hella refined and my skin is the clearest it’s been in a while.
Admittedly, once the aforementioned post-treatment roughness (that Jess had warned me about) had cleared, my skin did have a little bit of a tantrum about two weeks after my treatment and I experienced a lot of purging in my t-zone. But besides that the recovery process was straightforward and the aftercare was simple and manageable. So, all in all, it’s a thumbs up from me, and this is definitely a treatment that I will be coming back to when my complexion needs a bit of a reset and refresh.
My face is not the only thing that's been getting special treatment... Here's what happened when I tried holistic booty plumping.
Main image credit: @haileybieber
Briar is the Beauty Editor at BEAUTYcrew. Her 'down for anything' attitude has resulted in more than a handful of hair transformations, and she doesn't mind being used as a guinea pig for the industry's most unusual products and treatments. Her work has also appeared on Refinery29, Girlfriend and beautyheaven.