Sunday, August 11, 2013

Skin Laundry

I recently reviewed a new skincare service for the website Truth in Aging which I've reprinted below.The original review can be found here.

Photo courtesy Skin Laundry
Last week TIA asked me if I would test out a new skin treatment service called Skin Laundry that recently premiered in the Los Angeles area. Here’s the best part though: Anyone who lives nearby can also make an appointment for one complimentary session (a $75 value).

So what is Skin Laundry? It’s one of the new hybridized beauty businesses where they do one thing only, quickly and for a good price, along the lines of Drybar for blowouts or Blushington for makeup application, but this is skincare on the go. You’ll get the results of a full facial in about 10 minutes.

You might be wondering how this is possible. Well, Skin Laundry, which was founded by Dr. Elson Lai, (an ophthalmologist who grew up in the LA area) and his partners, has secured itself a niche that lies between a cosmedical procedure one might receive in a dermatologist’s office and a facial performed by an esthetician. This is achieved with a quickie laser and light treatment that has no downtime.

The facials are done using a YAG laser, which Dr. Lai describes as the workhorse of the procedure, followed by a proprietary light treatment which he referred to as "the secret sauce," based on intense pulsed light (IPL). Essentially, the laser works below the surface of the skin, killing bacteria, vaporizing the gunk in your pores, blasting the melanin and stimulating collagen. Skin Laundry believes in shorter more regular treatments to optimize the skin’s health and recommends four to six treatments in a row (once or twice a week), followed by maintenance each month or whenever you would normally schedule a facial. A series of six sessions costs $430 and a pack of 12 sessions costs $860.

Skin Laundry has three locations in Southern California: Santa Monica, West Hollywood (where my appointment was) and soon-to-be-opened Newport Beach, with more possibly to come. The WeHo space is bright, clean and modern with a beachy vibe. The staff, in their Converse sneakers and T-shirt uniform, is young, casual and friendly. After being offered bottled water and filling out some health history questions on an iPad, I was invited to remove my makeup at a vanity area (you can leave your eye makeup on... great if you’ve got to return to work). Shortly thereafter, I was led to one of the four treatment areas separated by linen curtains.

The facials are all done by licensed registered nurses trained by Dr. Lai himself, though he actually performed mine. After putting on goggles and getting a test of the treatment on the back of my hand, the laser part begins. It feels somewhat annoyingly prickly, but it’s not really painful. Two passes (one if you’re the sensitive type) across the face and you’re on to the light, which is preceded with the application of a water-based conducting gel (I asked if it had any antioxidants in it and he said no, but that it was a good idea). The light just feels warm as it passes in flashes over your face. Afterward, the gel is removed, some sunscreen is applied and you’re done.

Obviously, though pleasant enough, this isn’t the full-on pampering experience of getting a standard facial, but it’s not intended to be. It’s for people who just want to get things DONE. So did it?

Well, my face, which is usually quite sallow, looked attractively vibrant and glowy. My pores did indeed look smaller. My skin looked the way I always want it to look, but without resorting to tinted moisturizer, blush and concealer. It felt nice and smooth. Furthermore, when I got home, I realized that my chin area, which is plagued with deep pore congestion and occasional cystic acne, seemed to be purging. There were all these little waxy plugs right at the surface that I swept away with a granular exfoliator (YBF Prep). Pore clearing is something that glycolics, enzymes and clay masks are barely able to do for me. Of course after just one Skin Laundry treatment, I didn’t see any improvement on brown spots, but if yours are bad, you would probably do better with a full laser treatment somewhere else.

Would I go back? Absolutely – especially if I had somewhere to go where I wanted to look really good. It’s quick, effective and less expensive than a facial. Will they be coming to other cities? I can’t see how not.