Kerry Belba is a laser practitioner, trainer, key opinion leader and owner of Laser Skin Solutions in Bournemouth. She is the first aesthetic laser practitioner to have recently been voted onto the British Medical Laser Association (BMLA) board. Follow Kerry on Instagram: @LaserskinsolutionsUK.
During my 17 years as a laser aesthetician, I have seen a direct correlation between the influence of social media and the increase in demand for advanced facials. Most recently, the use of photographic filters has only served to increase the demand for flawless skin. Long gone are the days of the 1980s when clients would settle for a professional cleanse, steam and face mask. As pampering and enjoyable as these treatments are, the modern, time-poor, social-media influenced female (and male) client is far more discerning, and from my experience, comes to the clinic armed with fairly in-depth knowledge of advanced aesthetics and the kinds of results they can expect from treatment.
This is not to say however that clients don’t arrive misinformed or have unrealistic expectations. On the contrary, part of our jobs as laser practitioners and aestheticians is to de-bunk the myths and set out clear and realistic treatment outcomes. Nonetheless, compared to when I started out, clients are more savvy, better informed, and more demanding of their time and spend, and rightly so. At the end of the day, in a world where people are spinning so many plates between the different parts of their lives, an hour of in-clinic treatment has to give what I call “face value”. Value in terms of visible before-and-after results and in turn, value for money.
TURN ON THE LIGHT
Enter the advanced light facial. Unlike the injectables that many opt for instead of first seeing if they can achieve their desired results through less invasive means; laser, IPL and LED facials not only reverse sun damage by clearing pigmentation (or, in the case of LED), constricting broken capillaries and evening out skin tone, but also stimulate collagen production deep within the dermis. Back around 2006 when I opened my laser clinic, it very quickly became apparent when looking at before-and-after photos of facial thread vein removal, that not only were the vessels disappearing, but the quality of the overall skin was drastically improving in terms of texture, collagen production and shrinking of large pores. What started off as a nice and somewhat unexpected side effect of laser and IPL treatment 16 years ago, is now part of a larger treatment protocol for laser facials.
The illumiFacial, which is currently one of the most popular treatments in my clinic, combines a tri-acid peel with two different IPL wavelengths for collagen stimulation, thread vein treatment, evening skin tone and pigmentation removal. Its origins lie in the original Combined Facial Treatment (CFT) which I was performing all that time ago, whereby a glycolic peel (done a week beforehand) was combined with a full-face IPL treatment with a 650nm wavelength handpiece. Even then, this was a far cry from facials in my twenties, as Alice Hart-Davis, founder of The Tweakments Guide explains: “Facials have changed dramatically in the past thirty years. A spot of steaming and blackhead extraction used to be as exotic as it got. But now, the sky is the limit. I’ve reviewed facials involving anything from VR headsets (to promote mindfulness while some high-tech serums sunk into place) to paste-on, peel-off algae-based masks that cover your eyes, mouth and nose – but facials that involve light-based elements are more likely to deliver genuine results, and can be relatively quick, too”.
ALL IN ONE
Fast forward to 2021, and advances in peel products together with what we now know about combining different laser and IPL wavelengths has given birth to everything that the 21st century, time-poor, discerning client has been waiting for; a facial which can safely combine a tri-acid peel, two different laser/IPL wavelengths, (and in my clinic, additionally a Dermalux LED phototherapy treatment), all within an hour of clinic time. As individual treatments, the total price for these advanced procedures can be in excess of £600. However, with some clever planning of clinic time and a desire to create a facial package which is financially viable to most clients, clinicians with the right laser, IPL and LED tools can create truly bespoke facial treatments which leave the client looking and feeling fantastic and ready for an Instagram selfie that requires “#nofilter”.
At my clinic in Bournemouth, bespoke laser facials combining peels, IPL and LED cost £250, a considerably more expensive treatment than the traditional cleanse, steam and moisturise, but nevertheless around the same price tag as toxin and fillers. Arguably the results of laser facials last considerably longer than some injectables, which need to be repeated every three to six months. However, for best results, laser and light facials can actually benefit from being combined with wrinkle-relaxing injections and certain fillers, Both work to reverse the signs of ageing, but laser and light facials actually work to improve the overall health and function of the skin, too.
It is often said that healthy skin comes from within, and I would emphatically agree with that. However, skin can be made even healthier with certain wavelengths applied in the correct doses, causing a cascade of biological reactions which occur in the form of healing, stimulating, repairing and calming of the skin. The mitochondria, otherwise known as the “powerhouse” cells in our skin, generate most of the chemical energy needed to power the cell’s biochemical reactions. In short, their function has a huge impact on how our skin looks, feels and functions. Application of certain wavelengths into the skin’s deepest layers (dermis and subcutaneous) energises our cells. Skin cells that are energised function better and can regenerate up to 200 times faster, which in turn leads to faster skin healing, and a more youthful, radiant complexion. The best bit?
Treatment doesn’t necessarily require a lot of time for either client or therapist, as Hart- Davis explains: “At The Light Salon at Harvey Nichols in London, clients sit under an LED canopy for 20 minutes, for a therapeutic dose of red, near infra-red or blue light, while The Skin Laundry laser facial, (at Skin Laundry in London) gives clients a cleanse, then a quick once-over with both IPL and an ND:Yag laser, and they’re out within 15 minutes. Is it a serious treatment? Well, it’s just enough light tech to get the skin glowing and vaporise the grime that builds up in the pores, so you see an instant brightening result, though half a dozen sessions would be needed to see greater changes in the skin. So, this kind of facial won’t give the results you’d get from a personalised treatment with a laser specialist, but they can be a way to introduce people who are wary of lasers to the whole concept of light-based treatments”.
Indeed, personalised light-based facials with experienced laser practitioners have the ability to truly transform skin in ways we could never have imagined possible thirty years ago. Results can vary and while client selection and practitioner qualifications and experience are key, the quality of the laser, IPL and LED equipment in your toolbox is paramount. No matter how experienced or qualified a therapist may be, without the right medical-grade lasers, IPLs or LEDs (affectionately referred to in my clinic as our “light tools”), it is simply not possible to get the kind of results worthy of that Instagram selfie.
As with everything in life, you really do get what you pay for and this is particularly so when it comes to light-based devices. The sky is the limit with 21st century facials, so arm yourself and your clinic with the most phenomenal arsenal of “light tools” and go forth confident in the knowledge that you have the best equipment at your disposal, not just for creating that before-and-after wow factor, but for truly optimising skin health and vitality for your clients.