Once upon a time, I loved getting tan. As kids, my sister and I used to compare our summer tans, holding up our arms against one another to see who was darkest. When I became a teenager, my older cousin started preaching the perils of premature aging from the sun, but it was probably another ten years before I moved into the shade and wore hats everywhere.
In those ten years, I read in a (fictional) book that one day there would be lasers to erase all the skin damage. After starting to see some discoloration in my early 30s – from sun damage and/or melasma from pregnancy – I decided to see if those lasers existed in real life. Also, if they could zap away the wrinkles beneath my eyes, that would be great.
Since Kim Kardashian doesn’t seem to age, I googled “Kim Kardashian skin lasers”* and Fraxel came up. “Cool,” I thought. “I’ll just do that then.” When I asked my local dermatologist about it, she said it would be like taking a sledgehammer to my face. That’s when I learned about Clear & Brilliant. Nicknamed “Baby Fraxel”, it’s a laser resurfacing treatment with no downtime. It also costs significantly less than Fraxel, though not cheap by any means.
Since my dermatologist doesn’t offer Clear & Brilliant, I had to find someone who did. Cut to a few years later (life, travel, summer**, pandemic, etc.), I finally did and scheduled my Clear & Brilliant treatment for this past October as a birthday present to myself.
The first thing the dermatologist did (besides have me sign a “don’t sue me” waiver) was put numbing cream all over my face. After letting that do its thing, she started the laser process. I’d describe it as mildly irritating. Not pleasant, but not painful.
Once the lasering part is done, my dermatologist applied a vitamin c serum followed by a face lotion with sunscreen. Then I was on my way, the whole process lasting around 45 minutes. My face was a touch pink, but nothing anyone would notice.
Over the next couple of days, my skin felt like sandpaper, but again, it wasn’t noticeable to anyone else. My dermatologist urged me not to exfoliate the sandpaper feeling away so I let my skin do its thing. In less than a week, the sandpaper feeling went away, and my skin went back to normal…
…which is where it stayed. I waited another week, then another, but after a month, when I went back to my dermatologist, she and I both acknowledged there wasn’t a huge difference. Some of my discoloration might have lightened, but for $600 per treatment, we both agreed I wasn’t getting enough bang for my buck. She let me know of another treatment option, which I’m considering, so I’ll keep you posted.
I have a handful of friends who have tried Clear & Brilliant and loved their results. In one friend in particular, the results are clear (and brilliant). Unfortunately for me, it just wasn’t a game changer.
*For the record, this was a bunch of years ago. The results are different now. I just checked. I’m also intrigued…
**Clear & Brilliant is not recommended during the summer since it makes the skin more sensitive to sun exposure.