My Clear + Brilliant Experience

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I'm pretty devoted to skincare and I credit good habits and a lifestyle free of sugar and alcohol for the current condition of my skin. Still I’m always on the lookout for the latest treatments to improve and maintain it. Microdermabrasion, microcurrent facials, chemical peels, and LED light therapy are some of the treatments I've tried. While I can confidently go out without foundation and wrinkles and lines aren't a concern, I feel self conscious about the freckles on my cheeks and will do anything in my power to lighten or better yet get rid of them. In my quest I discovered Clear + Brilliant and I went for it.

What is Clear + Brilliant
Clear and Brilliant is an FDA approved, fractional laser treatment developed by Solta Medical that works to rejuvenate and resurface the skin, targeting freckles, fine lines and wrinkles. Often called the “mini Fraxel",  because it utilizes the same technology, Clear + Brilliant is a less aggressive treatment than Fraxel.  Considered the most gentle option of all resurfacing lasers, Clear and Brilliant is classified in between topical peels/microdermabrasion treatments and ablative cosmetic and laser treatments. It is safe for all skin types and suitable for all skin tones since the lasers are absorbed by water in the skin rather than pigment. This treatment cannot be performed while pregnant because the numbing can't be administered at that time.

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What Does It Treat
Clear + Brilliant is ideal as a noninvasive and nonsurgical preventative treatment to improve the current condition of the skin or as a corrective treatment to address skin discoloration, brown spots, and early signs of aging. This treatment is not not recommended for deep wrinkles or more serious skin damage, which would be better served by more intensive wrinkle removal treatments like Fraxel or Thermage.


How Does It Work
Clear + Brilliant is a non-ablative fractional infrared diode laser with a wavelength of 1440 nm for skin rejuvenation and 1927nm for pigmentation improvement. Like Fraxel, it works by heating up the skin to create microscopic holes. This process encourages new collagen production to fill in skin imperfections such as fine lines or wrinkles making it tighter while also improving skintone and appearance. One Clear and Brilliant treatment resurfaces about 5 percent of the skin’s surface. Upsides of this type of laser treatment are less discomfort and side effects as well as a faster recovery time where skin isn't left red and inflamed for days.

The Two Different Types Of Treatments
Clear + Brilliant works with two different handpieces: Perméa and Original. The Permea handpiece is designed to superficially target pigmentation issues such as sunspots, age spots, freckling, and melasma. Since it works more closely to the surface of the skin, pore size and overall texture will be greatly improved as well. The Original handpiece works on deeper layers of the skin, stimulating production of collagen so it rejuvenates the skin, improving the appearance of fine lines, acne scars while creating a firmer tone and texture.

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Where To Get It
You can get Clear + Brilliant treatments from board-certified doctors. I personally go to LaserAway, a skincare center that operates under the medical guidance of board-certified dermatologists and the treatments are administered by licensed nurses. They're quickly growing with five locations in New York as well as facilities in California, Texas, Nevada and Arizona. The Tribeca center where I get my treatments is modern and clean with a friendly and efficient staff.

How Often
More than one treatment is often recommended for best results since the effects of the treatments are cumulative. The treatments can be spaced out however you want. The recommendation is every two weeks if you have a specific goal or you can do it once a month as a maintenance.

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Cost
A single session of Clear and Brilliant costs $450 - $500 which is modest compared to Fraxel, which can cost upwards of $1,500. At LaserAway you can book a single treatment or a series of 3 or 6 treatments. I signed up for a series of 3 initially and did another series of 3 after that. Both times I was given a discount so that each treatment was less than $400. I paid upfront but they do offer installment plans. If you're in New York and interested in trying Clear + Brilliant at LaserAway, email or call my friend Stefanie at 212- 315-8529 over there. Tell her I sent you and she'll set you up.

The Consultation
I had a consultation before my first treatment to determine my skin concerns and goals. I don't really have fine lines or acne scars and hyperpigmentation is my main issue so it was decided that the Permea hand piece would be used. I was then asked to fill out a full medical history just to make sure the process would be safe for me.

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The Clear and Brilliant Treatment
Before the treatment you will remove all of your makeup and the nurse applies a lidocaine numbing cream all over your face. They let it got to work for about 30 - 40 minutes and when your face has lost feeling, the numbing cream is wiped off and the nurse will clean your face with an alcohol towelette to make sure it is completely clean and dry. They will then make sure you're comfortable, warm and calm by covering your body up with a towel and giving you a stress ball to squeeze on. Your eyes are shielded with protective covers. The  treatment works in passes in horizontal and vertical motions. It typically starts on the forehead which is one of the more sensitive areas for me.

The laser's patented intelligent Optimal Tracking System ensures that it covers the treated area uniformly. It feels like a roller ball with the sensation of a hot electric rubber band snapping all over your face. The feeling is uncomfortable but tolerable. The stress ball definitely helps and when I had my fourth treatment on the medium setting I was given this thing called "the chiller" which is a tube of continuous cold air that you can direct onto your face and it makes such a difference. I would say the pain varies from a 2 - 5 for me during a session on depending on the area of my face that is being worked on. Fleshier areas like the cheeks fare better which works for me since they always get some extra attention because that's where my hyperpigmentation occurs.  Following the treatment, a chilled vitamin C based sheet mask is applied onto your face. This calms the flushing and redness which occurs. They give me a moisturizer and sun protection to apply. By the time I'm ready to leave my face has cooled down and feels kind of numb and taut with a slight rosy flush. The redness completely subsides in the next hour or so. Factoring in the numbing time, the entire process takes about 50 - 60 minutes.

No Downtime
The following day, my skin takes on rough texture called "microcrusting" which feels like really fine sandpaper. It's also a little itchy and tight but appears normal otherwise. After that it starts to go through the sloughing process which slowly reveals new skin without any peeling, sensitivity or blotchiness. A week after the treatment my face looks super fresh, bright and radiant. And it continues to improve after that, taking on a smoother texture and tighter tone overall. I also noticed it started feel more balanced which I was told is another benefit. The beauty of this treatment is that you don’t have to hide inside for a week. I usually schedule my sessions so that I can stay in the next day but I've comfortably gone out during the microcrusting stage. I just made sure to wear sunscreen and use an umbrella. Avoiding the sun is crucial post treatment since your skin will be more sensitive to light.

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Aftercare
I was directed to keep my face well moisturized and to stay out of the sun for the next few days if possible.I was also told use SPF, a mild cleanser and a basic moisturizer and avoid any active ingredients like retinol or acids. Because the treatment increases permeability allowing for better absorption, you can use vitamin C products for more dramatic results. Soothing sheet masks without any actives are also okay. Exfoliation and peels should be avoided so that the skin can heal naturally. As far as makeup, that would be up to me but I usually just skip it the next few days. Once the sloughing is complete, you can resume your usual skincare routine. They recommend Cetaphil or Aquaphor as a moisturizer. I'm not a fan of either so I just used up all my deluxe samples of Creme de la Mer and Weleda Skinfood. I increased my use of vitamin C products like the Vitabrid C12 Dual MasksVitabrid C12 Face Brightening Powder, (reviewed here) Vitabrid C12 Dual Serum and Rodial Vitamin C Brightening Cleansing Pads. I would also use the Joanna Vargas Rejuvenating Serum (reviewed here) to boost hydration.

The Takeaway
I saw visible results after just one Clear and Brilliant treatment and there was continued improvement with each subsequent session since the treatments progressively build upon each other.  My skin was in pretty good condition before I started. It's significantly better now and looks luminous and glowing on it's own. And after four treatments, my freckles which have always vexed me have taken on a much lightened appearance. I gave up foundation over the summer and I might never go back. I'm now doing once a month treatments just for maintenance. I'm still amazed at how rejuvenated my skin looks each time. There are really no downsides aside from the cost and I'm sure some people will balk at the price but personally I see this is an investment in my skin and I'd much rather spend my money on a treatment with lasting results than 50 eyeshadow palettes that I don't need.

Note: This is a not a sponsored post. I did receive a discount and a complimentary treatment but I paid for the sessions with my own money.

Photos: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

19 comments

  1. Certainly love to try, dear! xoxo

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  2. Interesting post, dear!! I love it!
    Hugs ♥

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  3. I am looking into different options for treatments for my hyperpigmentation, and that one sounds amazing. I still have to save up a little, as with the kids and the house we pay for I don´t really have much free money and want to pay for such things up front.

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

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  4. This is an outstanding review that convince me totally to try this method of facial treatment. Thanks

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  5. Amazing review, this sounds like something I would get done :))) Hope you have been well, have a sweet week :)

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  6. I'm devoted to my skincare too! This sounds like a great treatment for hyperpigmentation.

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  7. Thanks so much for the review! I do have fine lines, but my freckles have always bothered me. I would definitely stop by this office in NYC. It seems to be great. I've been intrigued by LED therapy (home devices), but would love a cosmetic treatment administered by a medical professional.

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  8. My first time of learning about this Clear + Brilliant skin treatment. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful week.

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  9. Oh wow! If not for the price, this is definitely such a worthy procedure from just reading your post, chingu. You already have great skin, but even you had great results after! The Original would be perfect for me.
    PS I'm so jealous you can go without foundation...sigh....

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  10. This treatment procedure sounds really amazing but unfortunately the cost is too much. I wish it would have been reasonable in price but anyways, if it's effective one should try it out. Thanks for sharing <3

    Have a very happy Monday!
    Love <3
    http://www.rakhshanda-chamberofbeauty.com/

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  11. Hmm thanks for the heads up this. I have been thinking of getting something done for my frown lines between the eyes but I am super nervous about botox as if not done correctly can cause blindness among other things. This a bit safer. And I never noticed you had freckles.

    Allie of
    www.allienyc.com

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  12. Ah, we are doing the same as I live like you without sugar and alcohol!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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  13. This sounds very interesting and seems like a better option than something similar that I have researched earlier. I don't have wrinkles or fine lines but I do have freckles and it sounds like a viable option. Thanks for sharing... I think the price is okay considering it's similar pricing to a chemical peel that I had, and if you're quite happy with results, I think having great healthy skin is paramount. Your skin must be absolutely glowing at this point! :) Have a lovely week Rowena.

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  14. I would love to be able to afford something like this but t's just so expensive!

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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  15. Hello Rowena, I hope one day I can say that I can do without sugar, I still can not find a way to be disciplined in that aspect. How interesting, the fractional infrared diode laser seems to me a revolutionary treatment for the skin, to improve its appearance, eliminate stains and lines of expression.

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  16. This treatment sounds great, I would like to try it!
    Kisses, Paola.

    Expressyourself

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  17. This sounds like a great procedure, and it doesn't sound uncomfortable. I have skin issues because of health problems, but people always assume I'm much younger...lines are not a problem for me and I credit my clean lifestyle for that. I always said no to cigarettes, drinking or junk food.

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  18. I'm a big believer in laser treatments now especially after my Picoway experience, and this one sounds very similar! I need to see if it's offered here in the DC area, I'd love to do a session every other month to maintain my skin health. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Jenny // Geeky Posh

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