Used to treat everything from pigmentation, fine lines, acne, rosacea, those irritating purple spider veins and uneven skin tone in general, IPL is a great option for those who want to make significant, long-lasting changes but don’t want or need to go the whole hog with laser. Be warned that this isn’t one for those with olive and darker skin tones, due to increased pigment, which can over-lighten with exposure to this light.
In a nutshell, light beams dart towards pigment within the skin and attack it, kickstarting the skin’s natural repair mechanisms and resulting (once healed) in the kind of skin dreams are made of. That’s not to say that you can see this damage. It happens beneath the skin’s surface which means that, aside from a little redness, there is no downtime.
IPL isn’t a quick, lunchtime treatment. In most cases, a numbing cream will be applied all over the face before the treatment (which takes around 40 minutes to do its job), then the therapist will zap face-over at least twice. It can feel uncomfortable – especially around the nose, eyes and mouth – but it’s more than bearable and feels a little like an elastic band flicking across the face.
And don’t expect to see results straightaway. The skin’s repair processes take time and depend on how your skin works, but you tend to see an increased radiance and a firmer, more flawless face around two weeks after treatment. For a noticeable difference, a course of around five or six treatments at four to six-week intervals is suggested. We recommend dermatologist Dr. Nick Lowe
“Lasers are used for more targeted skincare concerns, as well as those that are more stubborn or advanced,” says Thomas, “I use them in treatments to zap pigment spots, remove skin tags, treat acne and acne scarring and slow down the ageing caused by sun damage.” Lasers are the most powerful light therapy and, much like IPL, target specific structures in the skin and induce controlled wounds, encouraging the skin cells to repair them. But while IPL comprises multiple wavelengths of light, laser has just one, so though it will feel more uncomfortable, you’ll see supercharged results after fewer sessions, and you’ll need them less frequently, too.
The range of lasers out there can be confusing. There are approximately 10 different laser technologies available but, as Thomas highlights, for each technology there are numerous brands creating their own version, making it a minefield for the uninitiated. Fraxel is one of the better known, mainly due to its famous fans (Kim Kardashian included) but is itself just a brand name – the technology inside is an Erbium laser. Erbium lasers are great for skin resurfacing, helping to bust acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles; they are a better all-rounder for all skin tones, too. That said, speak to your dermatologist about different options, especially when considering this kind of harder-hitting treatment. For Fraxel, we recommend Nick Lowe or the Phi Clinic
For the perfect gateway to laser treatment, look no further than Skin Laundry
, the laser and light facial that began Stateside and has now burst onto the UK scene. Here, they use YAG lasers that efficiently kill bacteria, vaporise grime and pollutant particles, improve texture, radiance and clarity and help firm up skin. It’s a big promise but in one session you see noticeable results – namely tighter, brighter skin – and founder Yen Reis is so sure of its efficacy that your first treatment is completely no-catches-at-all free (and only £50 thereafter; affordable when compared to Fraxel and the like). You do your laundry once a week (right?) and the idea here is to do the same with your skin; once a week for healthy, clean skin. It makes sense, when you think about how often you wear it.