My Experience with Photorejuvenation / IPL: part I

I pointed out in my rewards to Myself post that I treated myself to a Photorejuvenation / photofacial treatment.  Many of you were curious about this mode of treatment so I’ve made a decision to chronicle my journey.

This post won’t go into all the technical aspect of the Photorejuvenation, nor is it to encourage you to choose this treatment. It’s merely my own experiences and opinions.

I was first introduced to Photorejuvenation / Photogacial, or intense Pulse Light (IPL) at the medi-spa I go to for my laser hair removal (I’m doing my underarms – so pleased with the results of that so far!)   The esthetician was touting their IPL treatments as a wonderful facial treatment for me. Overall, I have good skin – it’s been a key focus in my appeal routine to maintain clear and radiant looking skin.  The greatest worry I have are my freckles and some hyperpigmentation on my chin area from hormonal breakouts. IPL is indicated to help with minimizing brown spots (like freckles, sun and age spots), fine lines and the size of pores.

Source.  My freckles are similar to this girl’s before photo on the left – mostly concentrated on the cheeks with some irregular splotches. Mine are lighter in colour than her before photo though – somewhere halfway between the before and after, I’d say.

I did some research (read: Google search and chatting with friends) and found that IPL is quite mild and there’s no downtime – my pal called it a “baby laser”.  Ultimately, the reason why I finally looked to IPL was due to continuous disappointment with various topical treatments that yielded no results. I’ve tried many “whitening” and “brightening” products out there and all I’m left with is a skincare graveyard. I wanted results.  And I know what some of you will say: but freckles are cute! I’ve heard it lots of times before (including from my SO) but I just want to fade them. I have no expectations that they will be 100% eradicated but I just want a smoother skin tone.

First, I had to figure out if I’m a good candidate – IPL tends to work better on lighter skin tones. I’m around NC20 in MAC.  Also, it is advisable not to have a tan or recent sun exposure when doing the treatment – so the fall / wintertime months are optimal times to do IPL.  I was a good candidate for IPL.

Source. Um, this model really must have protective eye wear in this picture!

First session:

There is no prep work required. I showed up for my session after work, so I had makeup on. The esthetician removed my makeup and then applied a layer of clear amazing gel onto my face. I was given protective eye glasses that block out the light (I closed my eyes for good measure). The maker makes a bit of a humming noise when turned on but not loudly. The wand attached to the maker looks kind of like a hand-held attachment for a vacuum. considering that I had already experienced the feeling of laser hair removal, I was expecting it to feel similar – as if someone touched a hot light bulb onto your skin – this felt milder than that! The anticipation was worse than the actual treatment, honestly. There is a minor hair burning smell from the laser – I’m guessing here, but I think it’s the laser targeting the melanin within the skin.  The mechanism of how IPL works is that it breaks down the melanin which allows the melanin to dissipate.

Source. The maker at the medi-spa I go to looks like this.

The wand has a smooth glass surface which is pressed onto various parts of the face and short bursts of bright light is emitted. The esthetician passed over my cheeks, forehead, and chin two times, with a focus on certain problem spots I requested (freckles on the cheeks). It was over in the matter of less than 10 minutes! She then did a light facial massage and applied a face serum and then a moisturizer. right away after the session, my skin felt slightly warm and appeared a little flushed, but no other evident effects. I was encouraged to not use any AHA on my skin for a few days after the treatment. and I was to keep out of the sun and wear sunscreen (one must wear sunscreen each day anyway!) That night I washed my face with mild cleanser and applied regular face cream that didn’t consist of any AHA or retinol (I was using Shiseido incredibly Revitalizing cream at the time).

The following day:
My skin was incredibly smooth especially my forehead! My skin felt slightly dry and tight on my cheeks. I made sure to apply a facial oil that evening.

The following week:
By day 4, a couple of my larger freckles started to darken slightly in pigmentation – mostly in the centers like they were getting a lot more concentrated. then the darker areas faded but nothing dramatic.  My skin was a little bit flaky so I made a decision to use my Aloette Aloepure Restorative Enzyme peel to gently exfoliate my skin to sloughed off the flaky bits.

Source. What is UP with all these models not wearing protective eye wear?! safety first!Second session:

My next session was booked for 4 weeks after the initial one – it is recommended to space IPL sessions in 3 to 6 week intervals.  At this session, the esthetician put the setting slightly higher than the last session.  And this time, I was prepared for the little flashes of heat on my skin. My skin was quite flushed and felt dehydrated afterward.  I use a facial oil that night.

The following day:
My skin was again very smooth and clear.  I didn’t even need foundation, just a little bit of concealing and that was it.

The following week:
On around the third day one of my spots started to itch. I instinctively went to scratch it and felt a bit of a scab on it. I checked it out in the mirror and lo and behold, the center of the spot had darkened and formed a little crust. The next night when I was washing my face and the little bugger sloughed ideal off! I inspected that spot closer and it was lighter in colour! I had been informed that IPL could do this: it targets the darker pigments, brings them to the surface and they can flake off. It happened to me!
I was encouraged by my esthetician to use a glycolic acid based exfoliant about a week after my treatment to rid the top layer of my skin to help the IPL process. I used my trusty Andalou Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask for this purpose.  She also encouraged that I use a vitamin C serum to help with brilliance – I use the Paula’s choice resist C15 incredibly Booster regularly. I also continued using my Aloette Aloepure Restorative Enzyme Peel and Up&Up exfoliating Cotton Rounds to help with flaking skin (which was partly due to the IPL and partly due to the extreme cold weather we had recently).

Treatments for Photorejuvenation can range from $200 to $500 per session – some savings can be had by getting packaged deals. It is recommended to have a minimum of 5 sessions to yield the best results. Overall, I’m very encouraged by the progress of my IPL treatments so far!  I have 3 a lot more treatments to go and will post my final thoughts in 3 months. have you ever done Photorejuvenation / IPL? Are you thinking of getting it done?

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