Standing Appointment is our review series that investigates the best new and notable cosmetic treatments in the aesthetics space and determines whether or not they are worth trying for yourself. This week, one writer tries the Lumecca IPL Photofacial for redness and texture.
When I mentioned that I was getting married to my friends in the beauty industry, their first question wasn’t about what I was wearing or where the event would take place. After a split-second scan, they’d ask, “What treatments are you doing?”
For some people, namely those who work in the industry or enjoy beauty as a recreational sport, a wedding is not only a cause for celebration, but a chance to try out the latest lasers or injectables in the name of matrimony. I’d taken precautions to avoid the wedding diet culture brides often feel pressured by, thanks to support from my best friend. But skin care was a whole new frontier.
I decided to use my wedding as a deadline for tackling my redness. I tried dozens of products over the years, from green color correctors to spine-tingling face masks. I even wore a red LED mask around my apartment on calls, often bumping into doorways. And after a round of Accutane in my early 20s, I felt generally grateful for my typically cooperative skin. But landing on lasers as a calming treatment came after a curiosity around the procedure and a convincing first-hand report from a friend. I made some calls and then I went in for a consultation.
A skin care brand founder (and friend) whose opinion I trust recommended a dermatologist. They were located in an office painted in muted neutrals and quiet, Scandinavian detailing. The receptionists were lovely. Gwyneth Paltrow sat across from my future dermatologist on a widescreen TV, the two of them in a “candid” conversation about aging. I sunk into a beige leather chair and read my book. What could go wrong?
It turned out, a few things. After declaring my skin’s “true age” of 24 through proprietary technology, the dermatologist let me know it was never too early to try Botox. Oh, and the laser I was asking about, Forever Clear Broadband Light? She advised fitting in six sessions before my wedding in three months. The total package would round out to around $4,000. She also recommended two products to use, which I purchased at the front desk for a $420 total. With that, I was on my way, eight afternoons blocked out in my calendar leading up to my big day.
Something about the consultation didn’t feel right. The check-out was cold. The follow-up that was emailed to me left me with a pit in my stomach. It felt like the dermatologist saw my skin insecurities as a chance to make money, not a start to an ongoing relationship. I called my cousin and future bridesmaid, who helped me call the dermatologist’s office to slowly cancel one appointment after another.
I felt defeated. Walking back to my office, I noticed another shiny dermatologist’s office, this one with less visible Scandinavian design nods. Enter: Ever/Body. Working in healthcare tech, I was familiar with the brand and its scientifically grounded approach. Slacking a few co-workers in the “Skincare” channel, I heard immediate, high praise across a number of treatments.
Within my first consultation, I had a plan that felt like me. I thought a Clear & Brilliant laser would be the best choice, but my consultant, who would perform all my laser sessions, suggested the Lumecca IPL Photofacial instead. We agreed on two treatments before the big day, and then one just after.
What Makes Lumecca IPL Different?
Throughout all my treatments, including my consultation, I had the privilege of working with Julie Skowronski FNP-BC, a nurse practitioner at Ever/Body. Here’s what she had to say when I asked about what sets an IPL apart: “Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is known as the most effective treatment for redness and hyperpigmentation for fair skin tones. Lumecca as a technology offers the most advanced treatment in this field and requires less sessions (three to five) for best results compared to six to eight with other IPL devices.”
Who Is An Ideal Candidate?
Knowing you're the right candidate for any treatment gives instant peace of mind. My first foray into lasers was no different. According to Skowronski, the treatment is best for those looking to “reduce signs of premature aging, rejuvenate the skin, and to treat pigmentation caused by sun damage.”
Those looking to treat pigment patches caused by hyperpigmentation should seek other laser options. She continues to note that, “IPL works best on fair to medium skin tones, specifically Fitzpatrick skin types I-IV. Because melanin absorbs light energy, olive and dark skin (Fitzpatrick skin types V-VI) are at risk for burns or hyperpigmentation.”
What Are The Side Effects?
Since this laser is quite a popular pre-event treatment, I asked Skowronski for some advice on timing. “You'll experience some redness and possibly some darkening of pigmented spots,” she says. For big events, she suggests starting four to six months ahead to accommodate the four weeks required between treatments.
“Timing is key for this treatment. Since IPL targets brown pigmentation, schedule this treatment when your skin tone is at its base and not tanned (you in November vs. you in August),” she shares. As for skin improvement, you’ll start to see results in one to two weeks. Since the effects continue to improve over time, expect to see your best skin about a month out from your last treatment.
What Happens During an IPL Treatment?
My first question when I began entertaining the prospect of laser treatments was, “Is it going to hurt?” The honest answer is yes and the better question is, “What’s your pain threshold?” The good news is that IPLs can be adjusted by your provider if the feeling is too intense. During my sessions, Julie took two passes on either side of my face on top of a thick layer of cooling gel with lots of check-ins along the way. Gradually, we upped the laser’s intensity. The closest approximation I can think of to the feeling is a quick snap of a rubber band, plus a little heat. Not so bad, but not a relaxing facial either.
More scientifically, “It uses intense flashes of light that penetrate deep below the skin's surface to break down pigment and target hemoglobin (for capillaries) and melanin-producing cells for hyperpigmentation,” says Skowronski.
What Does Aftercare Look Like?
To say I was prepared for the worst would be an understatement. I booked my first laser on a Friday after all my meetings, and packed a baseball hat in my bag. That’s what hours of very unofficial research on TikTok and Youtube do to a person. Everyone’s skin reacts differently, and since I’m naturally prone to redness, I assumed I would be an extreme case. I was so shocked to see only a faint tint that I called up a friend in the neighborhood for an impromptu drop-in.
After my initial treatment, some of my freckles rose to the surface of my skin and flaked off like coffee grounds, but this was only noticeable to me. I skipped retinol for a week before and after, and loaded up on thick moisturizer. I became extra careful about avoiding the sun, especially around the treatment appointments. But just as Skowronski informed me, since the technology of the treatment doesn’t injure the surface of the skin, there’s really no downtime. “Post-treatment, you will experience some redness that might feel like you have a mild sunburn which is completely normal and you're free to cover it up with makeup if you’d like,” she says.
“For the first 12 to 24 hours post-treatment you might expect skin sensitivity and redness so it's important to be cautious with skin care during this time — avoid strong active ingredients that might cause further irritation like retinoids, AHAs, vitamin C,” Skowronski adds.
And with each treatment, my downtime was less and less.
How Much Does Lumecca IPL Photofacial cost?
At Ever/Body, one pass of this laser costs $395. If you purchase in a pack of three, the lasers are $345 each. Since this laser is becoming increasingly popular, check around for the pricing of local practitioners trained in its usage.
My Final Results
On my wedding day, my skin’s redness was the last thing on my mind. But being prepared and taking the time to research a treatment that fit my end goals, felt empowering. If you’re on the fence about lasers or looking to take your skin care routine beyond topical products, I can’t recommend starting with an IPL enough. I’ll be returning to Ever/Body at least once or twice a year for continued maintenance, for a welcoming experience and zero sales techniques.