Have you ever had a photofacial? Do you know what a photofacial or IPL is? Last week I had a photofacial. A couple of my friends asked me what that was, so I decided to write a post on it for any of you ladies who aren’t familiar with a photofacial, or why winter is the perfect season to have one.
What Does A Photofacial Do?
Photofacials are used to treat skin that has sun damage/brown spots, broken capillaries, small spider veins and some forms of redness in the skin. You can treat any area of the body, but the most commonly treated areas are the ones that get the most exposure to sunlight, such as face, neck, chest, backs of hands, arms and shoulders.
In my case I was starting to see brown spots/sun damage on my face, mostly in my cheeks and lower face. In the past I had significant sun damage on my forehead and cheekbones that has completely disappeared with photofacials. This was new damage.
This photo was taken in Paris in September 2017 while we were having lunch outdoors at El Pais. When I saw the photo all I could see were the brown marks/sun damage along the side of my face and my nose. Suitably horrified, I called Sandra Caldwell at Blume Skin Center when I got back home to plan out an IPL strategy. We decided to start treatments in early January and have a second treatment in March. One week after the first treatment I am already seeing a huge improvement.
If You Are Wearing Sunscreen Why Are You Getting Sun Damage?
I am a sunscreen obsessive. Every single day of my life I apply a broad spectrum facial SPF 85-100, and have done most of my adult life. The problem is what was going on in the years prior to that.
My recommended sunscreen, the one I have been using for years and that I have written about many, many times is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 100, linked here at Amazon.com
I had several years during which I trusted the efficacy of the SPF 20 that was in my moisturizer and foundation. It turns out that the concept of an SPF built into a moisturizer or foundation giving you actual protection is, well, conceptual. You don’t actually get the protection you think you are getting, if in fact you get any at all.
Then there were the years prior to this where I wasn’t wearing any facial sunscreen unless I was sunbathing or going to the beach. It is these years combined with the SPF 20 in the moisturizer years when the damage that I’m seeing now actually occurred.
The signs of sun damage that are showing up on your skin now are actually from the damage you did years ago.
RELATED POST: VACATION BEAUTY ESSENTIALS
What Is A Photofacial?
Photofacial uses a light technology called Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL. A technician uses a hand held device to deliver bright bursts of light to the skin. That burst of light penetrates the skin and is absorbed by the dilated vessels in broken capillaries and spider veins, and in the excessive pigmentation that makes up the brown spots and sun damage, without damaging the skin.
Does It Hurt?
Photofacials without a numbing cream would hurt. I go to the Blume Skin Centre, and they use a numbing cream first to take away any pain. From that point it just feels like a slight rubber band snap, but not painful. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have no threshold for pain, so if this did actually hurt I probably wouldn’t do it.
RELATED POST: THIS IS MY PERSONAL SKIN CARE ROUTINE
What Happens Next?
Once the treatment is done you can just go about the rest of your day. It is super important to stay out of the sun for a while and to have a super strong broad spectrum facial SPF on every day. I recommend photofacials in the winter, not the summer.
You will see what look like coffee grounds coming up to the surface of your skin. These are the damaged areas that have absorbed the IPL light. They will work their way to the surface and then shed away (I was helping mine to move on this morning with my ExfoliKate enzyme mask), leaving you with gorgeous, clear skin.
When my technician, Sandra Caldwell, was looking at my skin she noticed some broken capillaries on the sides of my nostrils and on one of my cheekbones, so she zapped them and they are now gone.
Obviously the picture here is not me. This is a before and after that I took from Dr Blume’s website that shows you how effective this treatment can be!
How Many Treatments Does It Take?
Normally it takes from 3 to 5 treatments depending on the severity of the discoloration or damage to the skin. The treatments are scheduled several weeks apart. Once you have completed your initial series you may need maintenance sessions from time to time. You can expect to see a 90% improvement in your skin.
Who Shouldn’t Get A Photofacial?
It is not safe for a person with sun tanned skin or for anyone who may be exposed to excess sun in the weeks following the treatment to have a photofacial, which is why I recommend it as a winter treatment.
This treatment is not advisable for women who are pregnant or breast feeding, for people using Accutane or for 6 months after using Accutane, people with autoimmune or connective tissue disorders.
What Else Should I Know About Photofacial?
I absolutely do not recommend finding a medspa on Groupon or any other discount service for Photofacials, Ultherapy or any injectibles. The quality of your results depend entirely upon the quality of the machine and the heads used, and the quality and knowledge of the technician providing the service. If you are looking for the cheapest offer you will most likely be getting an inexperienced technician using an older, less effective machine. Read reviews on the places you are looking at and ask friends who have had success with the procedure for referrals.
RELATED POST: WHAT IS ULTHERAPY?
If you are in Arizona I recommend the Blume Skin Center. If you have been reading this blog for a while then you already know that I have been using them exclusively for years, and that’s where I send all my friends, family and clients.
If you have questions about photofacials call the Blume Skin Center at (480) 699-7999