Clear + Brilliant laser treatment is renowned for turning dull skin to bright skin. (Photo: Getty Images)
About two months ago I had the pleasure of hanging with a major tabloid confidant who gave me some inside scoop on a treatment called Clear + Brilliant that was so good at turning dull skin to bright skin, that it was actually being written into movie contracts. I pressed her for names and got Hailey Baldwin, but with deeper research found that the list was much longer and spanned a ton of the A-listers admired for their beauty and relative agelessness. I was fascinated, so I did my best journalistic research to find a local doctor with a celeb-patient roster to let me have a crack at it and hopefully share some names.
I headed into Plastic Surgeon Dr. Stafford Broumand’s office a few days later to try it for myself because life is short and I wanted my skin to be so glowtastical that onlookers would wonder if I had swallowed that fluid they put in neon signs. “I can’t name patients, but a lot of our patients have graced magazines, TV shows and movies” he told me. Through some sleuthing I know his list includes model Chrissy Teigen. If he was responsible for her glow, I was totally game and hitting myself for not finding out about this earlier.
I had to ask exactly how the treatment would work. All I knew at the time was that there was no downtime and no pain — basically enough for me. “Using a fractional laser technology, Clear + Brilliant addresses early signs of aging and refreshes skin from the inside out. Treatment typically takes about 20-30 minutes, and can benefit men and women of all ages. Our practice utilizes both the original and new Permea hand pieces for our Clear + Brilliant procedures. The Permea treatment can be combined with a topical antioxidant, and is able to penetrate millions of microscopic areas of the skin for comprehensive replacement of damaged cells,” he explained.
Before treatment, Dr. Broumand issues a deep cleansing to remove traces of dirt or makeup. (Photo: Bryce Gruber)
Fractional laser technology is basically the same stuff that Fraxel lasers use to get rid of very serious pigmentation, wrinkles, and even some scar tissue. Clear + Brilliant is in the same family of lasers, but should be thought of as the much gentler baby sister of Fraxel. Specifically the nicer, painless baby sister with a cheery attitude. “The Permea hand piece utilizes a 1927 nm wavelength that is absorbed by the water in the skin. The Permea creates wider and shallower lesions to the skin. These wide, shallow lesions allow for product to penetrate the skin deeper. The depth of the hand piece is set to a superficial depth (170µm) The superficial depth allows the aesthetician to treat the melanin in the skin.”
Semi-scary explanation aside, my treatment started with a deep cleansing (much like a facial at a spa) to remove any traces of dirt or makeup before getting down to the sci-fi skin lasers. Within a couple minutes of that I was being marked for the zones to cover in a specific order. The treatment started— I was making fists so tight with fear that I could’ve crushed pure rock into diamonds. Lasers sort of scare me even if a doctor tells me flat out that I won’t feel any pain. About 15 seconds into the treatment, I realized it didn’t hurt, and at best it felt like a very mild rug burn.
The redness was gone within an hour of my treatment ending. They warned that my skin may feel a little rough or sand papery for the first day or two following treatment, because of the natural exfoliation that would occur. It was true— by the time I woke up the next morning I had a sort of grainy texture to my skin that nobody (even me) could see, but I could definitely feel. I was shocked to find that the invisible, grainier texture to my skin actually held my primer and CC cream like never before. It was basically an anchor and I had the best made up face I’ve had in years for the following 2 days.
Somewhere around the 3rd or 4th day post-treatment, my skin was back to being baby smooth, but, I still had minor hyper-pigmentation and my skin wasn’t totally radiant yet. I started to lose faith because I had assumed that if the skin-sloughing process didn’t leave me with instantly brightened skin, it wouldn’t work at all. What I got was a lesson in patience. By the end of a week I was getting compliments left and right. Everything from you look really well rested to what’s the new makeup you’re using, you look so dewy was thrown at me, and I loved every single line from coworkers, friends, and my husband.
After treatment. (Photo: Bryce Gruber)
The only bad news was that my skin seemed to gradually go back to normal after about a month or so, just minus a portion of the hyper-pigmentation and sun damage I had before treatment. Apparently my single treatment was just tip of the usual skin-brilliance iceberg. Right around the time my face started looking regular in terms of radiance was the time I should’ve headed in for a second treatment. “Results from Clear + Brilliant can last for months depending on the patients age, skin condition and their skin car regimen. My office suggests completing a series of six treatments spaced 2 to 3 weeks apart to see optimal results. Patients can see results after one treatment. Patients notice smoother, brighter skin a few days after treatment, but it’s recommended to do a full series for longer lasting results. The laser is known to give patients even skin tone, reduced pore size, softer and smoother skin.”
Whoops. I missed the get-a-few-treatments memo, but was impressed by the results after a single treatment and can understand why mega celebs look to it as a workplace essential. Frankly, if my face was about to be blown up in high res and high def I’d want more pores and cells handled on a more regular basis.
Right now doctors tend to use Clear + Brilliant on the face, neck, décolleté and hands to give an overall refreshed, youthful, can’t-figure-out-if-you’ve-had-work-done kind of vibe. Dr. Broumand’s NYC office charges $500 per session and discounts for a package of several, making it far pricier than the average wash-tone-hydrate routine. Worth it? If your face and skin are crucial to your career, than yes, but I still wish the lasting results happened after just one visit.