I Tried It Clear & Brilliant Laser Facial
Thanks to years of habitual SPF sunscreen use – even when it sometimes causes people to look at me like I’m slathering products like clockwork – and a skincare regimen that I rarely stray from, my skin has been great. Especially considering that I have a very good complexion, and especially considering that I live in Phoenix, which is sunny 299 days of the year.
That said, I admit that I’m always on a quest for better skin and after seeing the results from celebrities and other skincare enthusiasts, I really wanted to try the Clear + Brilliant facial. So in early November – just in time for the upcoming holidays – I ventured out to VanDyke Aesthetics in Scottsdale, Arizona, to finally try the laser treatment myself. My experience is amazing and my skin is smooth AF – I’m anxious to tell you all about it.
About Clear + Brilliant
In a nutshell, Clear + Brilliant is a peel treatment using a pulsed fractional laser. It is often called “Baby Fraxel” because it uses the same fractional laser technology, only with reduced intensity. This means you get many of the same benefits, but with less downtime (up to a day or two instead of a full week).
As the name suggests, the Clear + Brilliant laser can help improve the overall texture, tone and clarity of your skin. It refreshes the surface layer of the skin by removing the superficial skin. Depending on your goals, you can choose between one and six treatments (about a month between each treatment). If your goal is really to target hyperpigmentation and more serious texture issues, you’ll need more treatment, and less if your MO is simple skin care. For example, many celebrities (or regular people) will do a Clear + Brilliant treatment a week or so before a big event to give their skin a boost. The cost of each treatment varies, but on average, you can expect between $200 and $600 per session.
You will first need to consult to make sure you are a Clear + Brilliant candidate. Some facilities will consult with you in person a few days before or on the day of treatment, or even over the phone if you are an existing patient.
For the actual treatment, you need to take about 90 minutes out of your day. The treatment itself doesn’t take that long, but your doctor will apply a topical numbing ointment that needs to be penetrated within 30 minutes before the laser is swung. If you haven’t experienced numbing cream before, it basically just leaves your entire face feeling numb for a few hours (similar to the feeling of Novocain, with only zero injections before you get a filling).
Once the numbing cream is on, it’s time for the laser. The sensation is similar to the tingling sensation you get when your hand falls asleep, only it quickly disappears when the laser slides across your face. I personally wouldn’t say it hurts, and others have reported that Clear + Brilliant doesn’t hurt for them either. I would say mild discomfort.
Clear + brilliant downtime
The real laser process takes 15 to 20 minutes and then you’re done. It wasn’t until about 5 minutes later, when my doctor removed the cooling fan, that I could feel the heat coming on. I would describe this feeling as a severe sunburn. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not uncontrollable.
One thing I want to emphasize is that in the hours that followed, I was very, very (visibly, ridiculously) red in the face. Many reports I’ve read say that you can go right back into the office, but in my experience, that won’t do anything. I’m lucky enough to work from home, so I don’t have to worry about people suspecting I look like a tomato……. That being said, if you decide to do Clear + Brilliant, I recommend making an appointment after work, taking the day off, or doing it on an unplanned weekend.
My skin felt like fine sandpaper that night and for three days afterwards. This sandpaper-like feeling is caused by the old skin sitting on the surface, and with gentle pampering, over time it will be shaken off, revealing the “new” skin underneath.
Pictured about an hour after the treatment. About an hour after care.
Post-treatment products and care
In the days following a Clear + Brilliant treatment, it’s important to use gentle, emollient, non-active ingredients. This means pressing pause on retinol, AHAs and BHAs and soaking yourself in products that are highly hydrating and improve the skin barrier. The products I went for were “Then I Met You” cleansing duo, $68, Missha Meditanical Rose Toner, $24.50, SkinMedica TNS Serum, $281 and Naturopathica Gotu Kola Intense Repair Balm, $58.
I also used the Supergoop! Superscreen Daily Moisturizer for $38 per day. On the fourth day, when I still had flakes but my skin was calm, I used Wander Beauty’s BRB Multipolish, $36, a super gentle physical exfoliation that really helped peel away old skin.
In my experience, the slight redness lasted about 36 hours (remember, I have fair skin, though). However, using a little Erborian CC Red Correct, $44, meant I didn’t have to cancel a coffee date with a friend the next morning.
As shown in the picture, my skin looks like this after 24 hours of applying the Redness Repair CC Cream.
My clear + shiny results.
Although my face was still red and flushed the next day, I could tell there was a lot to gain. First of all, my skin feels firmer and I can tell my pores are shrinking (shrinking my pores is one of my main goals). By day four, my skin started getting unsolicited compliments, and by day five, I personally felt like my skin had changed a million dollars.
I don’t know how else to describe my results, except to say that Clear + Brilliant makes my skin, well, clearer and brighter. My under-eye and cheek areas are particularly bright, and I can see a slight reduction in the fine lines around my mouth. My pores are noticeably smaller (which is one of my biggest self-perceived “problems”), and overall, my skin tone and texture are more even. I didn’t expect my skin to feel so soft and smooth either, but even as I write this, I can’t help but touch my face.
All in all, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their skin quickly and make a noticeable improvement in their skin. It really, 100% works. Considering the price tag, it is especially suitable for those upcoming events – say, a wedding or presentation or a gala. However, if you are in the mood to spend money and trying to find the best way to spend your money, this is a good option. In the future, I will definitely be back for more laser action.