My Experience with Photorejuvenation / IPL: Part I

I mentioned in my Rewards to Myself post that I treated myself to a Photorejuvenation / photofacial treatment.  Many of you were curious about this mode of treatment so I’ve decided to chronicle my journey. 🙂
rewards2015_2
This post won’t go into all the technical aspect of the Photorejuvenation, nor is it to advise you to go for this treatment. It’s merely my own experiences and opinions.

I was first introduced to Photorejuvenation / Photogacial, or Intense Pulse Light (IPL) at the medi-spa I go to for my laser hair removal (I’m doing my underarms – so pleased with the results of that so far!)   The esthetician was touting their IPL treatments as a fantastic facial treatment for me. Overall, I have good skin – it’s been a key focus in my beauty routine to maintain clear and radiant looking skin.  The biggest concern I have are my freckles and some hyperpigmentation on my chin area from hormonal breakouts. IPL is meant to help with reducing brown spots (like freckles, sun and age spots), fine lines and the size of pores.
IPL_2
Source.  My freckles are similar to this girl’s before photo on the left – mostly concentrated on the cheeks with some irregular splotches. Mine are lighter in colour than her before photo though – somewhere halfway between the before and after, I’d say.

I did some research (read: Google search and chatting with friends) and found that IPL is quite mild and there’s no downtime – my friend called it a “baby laser”.  Ultimately, the reason why I finally turned to IPL was due to continuous disappointment with various topical treatments that yielded no results. I’ve tried many “whitening” and “brightening” products out there and all I’m left with is a skincare graveyard. I wanted results.  And I know what some of you will say: but freckles are cute! 😛 I’ve heard it many times before (including from my SO) but I just want to fade them. I have no expectations that they will be 100% eradicated but I just want a smoother skin tone.

First, I had to determine if I’m a good candidate – IPL tends to work better on lighter skin tones. I’m around NC20 in MAC.  Also, it is advisable not to have a tan or recent sun exposure when doing the treatment – so the Fall / Winter months are ideal times to do IPL.  I was a good candidate for IPL. 🙂
IPL_4
Source. Um, this model really should have protective eye wear in this picture!

First session:

There is no prep work required. I showed up for my session after work, so I had makeup on. The esthetician removed my makeup and then applied a layer of clear cool gel onto my face. I was given protective eye glasses that block out the light (I closed my eyes for good measure). The machine makes a bit of a humming noise when turned on but not loudly. The wand attached to the machine looks kind of like a hand-held attachment for a vacuum. 😆 Since I had already experienced the feeling of laser hair removal, I was expecting it to feel similar – as if someone touched a hot light bulb onto your skin – this felt milder than that! The anticipation was worse than the actual treatment, honestly. There is a slight hair burning smell from the laser – I’m guessing here, but I think it’s the laser targeting the melanin within the skin.  The mechanism of how IPL works is that it breaks down the melanin which allows the melanin to dissipate.
IPL_3
Source. The machine at the medi-spa I go to looks like this.

The wand has a smooth glass surface which is pressed onto various parts of the face and short bursts of bright light is emitted. The esthetician passed over my cheeks, forehead, and chin two times, with a focus on specific problem spots I requested (freckles on the cheeks). It was over in the matter of less than 10 minutes! She then did a light facial massage and applied a face serum and then a moisturizer. Immediately after the session, my skin felt slightly warm and appeared a little flushed, but no other apparent effects. I was advised to not use any AHA on my skin for a few days after the treatment. And I was to keep out of the sun and wear sunscreen (one should wear sunscreen every day anyway!) That night I washed my face with mild cleanser and applied regular face cream that didn’t contain any AHA or retinol (I was using Shiseido Super Revitalizing Cream at the time).

The following day:
My skin was SUPER smooth especially my forehead! My skin felt slightly dry and tight on my cheeks. I made sure to apply a facial oil that evening.

The following week:
By day 4, a couple of my larger freckles started to darken slightly in pigmentation – mostly in the centers like they were getting more concentrated. Then the darker areas faded but nothing dramatic.  My skin was a little bit flaky so I decided to use my Aloette Aloepure Restorative Enzyme Peel to gently exfoliate my skin to sloughed off the flaky bits.

IPL_6
Source. What is UP with all these models not wearing protective eye wear?! Safety first!

Second session:

My next session was booked for 4 weeks after the initial one – it is recommended to space IPL sessions in 3 to 6 week intervals.  At this session, the esthetician put the setting slightly higher than the last session.  And this time, I was prepared for the little flashes of heat on my skin. My skin was quite flushed and felt dehydrated afterward.  I use a facial oil that night.

The following day:
My skin was again very smooth and clear.  I didn’t even need foundation, just a little bit of concealing and that was it.

The following week:
On around the third day one of my spots started to itch. I instinctively went to scratch it and felt a bit of a scab on it. I checked it out in the mirror and lo and behold, the center of the spot had darkened and formed a little crust. The next night when I was washing my face and the little bugger sloughed right off! I inspected that spot closer and it was lighter in colour! I had been informed that IPL could do this: it targets the darker pigments, brings them to the surface and they can flake off. It happened to me! 😀
IPL_5I was advised by my esthetician to use a glycolic acid based exfoliant about a week after my treatment to rid the top layer of my skin to help the IPL process. I used my trusty Andalou Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask for this purpose.  She also advised that I use a vitamin C serum to help with radiance – I use the Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Super Booster regularly. I also continued using my Aloette Aloepure Restorative Enzyme Peel and Up&Up Exfoliating Cotton Rounds to help with flaking skin (which was partly due to the IPL and partly due to the extreme cold weather we had recently).
IPL_7
Treatments for Photorejuvenation can range from $200 to $500 per session – some savings can be had by buying packaged deals. It is recommended to have a minimum of 5 sessions to yield the best results. Overall, I’m very encouraged by the progress of my IPL treatments so far!  I have 3 more treatments to go and will post my final thoughts in 3 months. Have you ever done Photorejuvenation / IPL? Are you thinking of getting it done?

44 thoughts on “My Experience with Photorejuvenation / IPL: Part I

    1. Yes, this is the most “hardcore” I’ve gone with skincare procedures. I’ve been getting facials done regularly for years and a couple of years ago upgraded to microdermabrasion. Now this “baby laser” 😮 I hope it doesn’t go further than this… never say never, I suppose!

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  1. I want to try it !!! Now … Tomorrow … Yesterday 😛 Does it count in my low-buy ?!!! 😀
    I will do this + Botox & Fillers … 2500$ 💸 💸💸 Thanks sweetie for this great in dept review/experience xo’s

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  2. That seems very interesting! I totally wouldn’t mind doing it that is if you say the pain isn’t too much. I’m such a baby when it comes to pain and needles and stuff lol. I do have rosacea (I think I spelled it right lol) would it help with that!? If so omg, count me in! That was initially the reason I started using foundation to cover up the redness in my cheeks 🙈 I can’t wait to hear about your final thoughts on this 🙂

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      1. You are crazzzzyyy!!! I can’t with needles which is weird because I have gotten my lip pierced like 4 times and all in the same spot which ‘should’ hurt because of the soft tissue but it never bothered me! But anything else regarding needles uyyyy very bad lol. I recently got blood taken out of me.. I thought I thought I was going to faint no joke!! I’m such a weenie!! Even when they start prepping you for taking blood out or putting an injection I start panicking lol! I wish I had such a high pain tolerance though . OMG, it doess!!??? I honestly wouldn’t mind doing it then, I really hate all the redness on my face! I used to get teased about it soooo sooo much in school. Ever time after gym class usually everyones faces are obviously red due to running and what not, in less than a few minutes their faces would be back to ‘normal’ color but mine would remain red for perhaps an hour or so.. poor me goes to lunch with a red tomato face! 😦 Story of my life lol. Which is why I started wearing makeup to hide it! Thanks for the link I’m totally going to read it more! 🙂

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        1. Haha you had your LIP pierced and you’re scared of needles?! LMAO! I wouldn’t get my lip or tongue pierced because I think the pain would be crazy! So funny.
          IPL isn’t that painful, honestly! Go for a consultation if you are really curious – I hope you find something that helps!

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          1. Lip piercings are not painful at all!! The only discomfort is afterwards when you start feeling the coldness of the piercing other than that painless!!!:) yeah I was looking at it and reading about it .. looks pretty awesome! Hopefully it’s available in my city!

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  3. i have always been tempted but put off by the high price tag. A hot lightbulb touching my face doesn’t sound appealing!!! The spot that bugs me the most is close to my eye so it doesn’t sound like this would work for that.

    Too bad you didn’t get a skin mapping a la (ANTM) for your before & after shots. Would love to see whether there is an “undertheskin” difference.

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    1. Yeah, no go near the eye area with this treatment.
      Well I assume there’d be a difference “undertheskin” since the melanin is being broken up and comes to the surface? They don’t claim that I’ll never get new freckles – they can’t prevent future damage, just erase the existing ones. We shall see.

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  4. Loved reading about your experience! I’m interested in getting some sort of facial treatment done- mainly for some left over acne scarring (grrrr.) I’m still doing my research and shopping around, there are so many treatments out today, it’s hard to choose!

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  5. I really enjoyed reading your post. I have been vaguely considering IPL because I am at the same place you were. I had some success with vitamin C, retinol and glycolic acid. In fact, my “cute” freckles are gone, but I’m left with some significant sun damage/age spots and though reduced a bit, they are as light as they are ever going to get plus the texture of the skin on one of the spots is different than the rest of my face. I would love to try it, but #1 the expense and #2 I’m nervous about the pain. Also, my biggest dark spot is right along side my left eye. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it, but this was the most informative post I’ve read yet about the IPL process. Thank you!

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    1. You could always go for a no-cost consultation. Maybe they will recommend a different course of treatment for you that isn’t as costly or painful. Really, it’s not that painful to me… but I do have high pain tolerance. It’s a fleeting pain and there’s no lingering pain. I hope you find something that works for you!

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  6. Have to admit, you have made me curious as to how well it works on pores. I have been trying every primer toted to help with them but they just don’t seem to last through long days. Have you noticed any difference in pore size?

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    1. I haven’t noticed much different with my pore size to be honest. I don’t have a lot of enlarged pore – some on my nose. I’ll keep a closer eye on it after the next sessions to see if they’ve reduced. I will make note of it when I provide my update!

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  7. This sounds a bit scary to me, but I’m a big baby with anything where people touch me with tools! 😀 It’s traumatic enough getting a haircut or going to the dentist!

    And yeah, I’m one of those people who is gonna say, but freckles are adorable! Glad it seemed to work well, though. There are too many treatments that don’t do what they claim to.

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