Enlarged pores? Dull, lackluster skin? Puffy undereyes? Yeah, I had them all, and here's what I did about them. If any of these are currently afflicting you, one of these treatments will fit the bill. Full disclosure: These are professional services, so yes, they are on the pricier side, but consider them maintenance work or tune-ups for your face. Investments that your skin, five years from now, will be thanking you for.
Kiehl's Deep-Pore Cleansing Facial
Whenever I get any kind of extractions-focused facial, aestheticians usually go to town, leaving my face looking worse for wear. My pores are clean, but more often than not I have red marks all over my face, that sometimes turn into scars. It was different at Kiehl's new-ish spa (they opened on the Upper East Side last summer). I was somewhat overdue for a facial, and coming off of winter, my skin was a dry, congested mess. After a series of cleansers and gentle scrubs, a customized mask (a blend of white clay, rosewater, vitmain K and hyaluonic acid) was applied. My face was then wrapped with warm, gauzy towels; I was left for a bit, while the heat-activated masks did their job.
While getting rid of blackheads was the task at hand that day, I did mention that fine lines and a general dullness are also issues I battle daily. To that my facialist applied a generous amount of the brand's Line Reducing Concentrate -- which works similar to retinol in that it reduces lines and uneven texture, but with Vitamin C, which means less irritation and dryness.
Most good facials will give you great clear skin for about a week following the appointment, but for me, the luster generally starts to fade a few days after. This is what made this experience at Kiehl's so different. For almost two weeks after, my skin was completely unproblematic: perfectly hydrated, never oily and just insanely glowing. This kept up for a while that I hardly had to do much to my skin. (I usually douse my face in oil multiple times a day to keep it from getting too dry.) But the greatest miracle of them all -- and this is a big one -- my pores were almost nonexistent, practically shrunken. No matter how clean my skin is, I can pretty much always see my pores, which is something I find endlessly frustrating. This facial exceeded all my expectations of clean, blackhead-free skin.
Kiehl's Deep Pore Cleansing Facial, $160, kiehls.com
Joanna Vargas Triple Crown Facial... aka the Microcurrent Facial
Joanna Vargas has a bit of a cult following in New York: she's known for her gentle yet incredibly thorough microdermabrasion and impeccable extractions. (Vargas is the exception to my sweeping generalization above.) Yet, this treatment was different, and since I had little idea what was in store, it made the results all the more mind-blowing.
She prepped my skin, then got to work, moving two prong-like devices over my face, around my eyes, under my cheekbones, along the jawline. As I lay there, Bach playing in the background, a large machine next to me beeping and a cooling-metal sensation on my face, I still couldn't really tell you what was going on. So zoned out and relaxed, I didn't realize that Vargas had only been working on the right side of my face. It was when she whipped out a mirror to reveal this, and I saw the alarming before/after effects. I hadn't walked in there thinking, my eyes and face look particularly puffy today, but compared to the new toned-up, chiseled even, right side, it was horrifying and exciting all at once.
This treatment has been nicknamed a workout for your face, and it essentially is: I looked like I lost weight in my face, which I wasn't really looking to do, but the difference was pretty incredible. It was also instant. Better-defined cheekbones, tighter jawline, undereye puffiness gone just like that. With regular visits, you are working to speed up cellular activity and reduce the appearance of lines, all while "sculpting" your face in a totally not-freakish-surgery way. More in a super-high-cheekbones-even-if-you-weren't-born-with-them way.
Joanna Vargas Triple Crown Facial, $250, joannavargas.com
Clear & Brilliant Laser Resurfacing
Sounds intense (I know), it's not. While it is the most expensive of the lot, it has the most longterm payoff I feel. I know in-office treatments can be a turn-off for some people, but this treatment is not invasive in any way. Clear & Brilliant is the latest in the new wave of resurfacing laser treatments that, while similar to more intensive services like Fraxel (this is considered 1/10th as strong), are actually targeted for younger skin that's just starting to show signs of aging. And downtime is practically none.
The treatment itself takes very little time, a few minutes. The weirdest part I have to say was the numbing cream applied beforehand, which makes the treatment practically painless -- as in you hardly feel anything. (If you've ever had laser hair removal, the slight tingling sensation will be familiar, but way less tingling.) What you do feel are tiny little zaps, which go deep into skin's dermis to boost collagen production. Afterward my face was a little red, like the way you look after a sweaty workout. I could not, however, feel my face for the rest of the day, which was weird, and made eating interesting. While I was a little worried as to when the redness would settle down, my dermatologist Anne Chapas assured me everything would be back to normal the next day. And it was. My skin was definitely on the dryer, rougher side, and it stayed like this for a week, but there was an overall clarity to my skin that I haven't seen in many a year. Broken capillaries around my nose had disappeared. And the lines around my eyes, which tend to become more noticeable when my skin gets drier, practically vanished. As corny as it sounds, my skin was glowing from the inside. (Way too many people asked me if I'd been on vacation.) When discoloration and unevenness are removed from the equation (this treatment is fantastic for people with acne scars), it really can take years off your face.
Clear & Brilliant Laser Resurfacing, $250 per session (price varies), clearandbrilliant.com
Have you tried and new face treatments today? How were they? I want to hear about them.