If you want want a fresh complexion for 2015 – without resorting to the surgeon’s knife – Haute Time recommends wandering to Woodford Medical Clinic on Upper Wimpole Street and signing up for a Photofacial (also known as Photorejuvenation).
Make no mistake: I enjoy a pampering facial in a sumptuous spa where pan-pipe music is played while you lie back and think of England as layers of products are lathered on as much as anyone, but fast forward two days and my skin is invariably back to square one (read dull and lifeless) making for a pleasant but ultimately ineffective 90 minutes.
By contrast the Photofacial – which was pioneered here in the UK by Dr Mervyn Patterson andDr Hilary Allan – isn’t exactly a pampering treatment but it is a productive one boasting a 75 per cent improvement rate in treating rosacea, age spots, brown spots, skin laxity, wrinkles and chronic sun damage.
Having spent five years living and working in sunny climates – first in Dubai and then in the Cayman Islands – where weekends were spent toasting myself on a sun lounger, it was the latter that I was looking to address.
If you’re planning on following in my footsteps, arrive wearing little or minimal make up (I wore my usual war paint on visit number one, only for the therapist to remove it). Once I was comfortable on the treatment bed, an eye shield – to protect eyes from light – was applied and then the fabulously friendly therapist got to work zapping my face (the light penetrates through the skin where it is absorbed by the excessive pigmentation) with the scary looking laser device.
Some people refer to the IPL – which stands forIntense Pulsed Light - Photofacial as ‘Intense Pain Laser’ but, in truth, it’s not the torturous treatment most imagine. Rather it’s akin to having hot rubber bands snapped against your skin and, as someone who can’t bear being cold, I actually enjoyed the warm sensation and found the process practically painless.
But while you don’t need to a high pain threshold to undergo an IPL Photofacial, it’s a not a treatment to have on New Year’s Eve or ahead of any red carpet occasion: IPL basically shines the spotlight on your pigmentation causing those bloomin brown spots to get darker for a week before, much like Macavity, they magically disappear.
Chances are that immediately following the PhotoFacial, you’’ll feel a little alarmed – your visage will appear bright red (like a bad case of sunburn) and feel hot to touch – but don’t despair! It’s nothing a bit of light make up (the team at Woodford advise applying mineral based make-up, which contains less chemical-based ingredients and parabens) can’t cover up and rest assured that the redness subsides after an hour.
And, after a week, the texture and tone of my skin was transformed! My pesky pigmentation was markedly less noticeable – something years of slathering Estee Lauder or Origins (so called) ‘Even skin-tone’ serum slavishly over my face had never been able to achieve.
Woodford Medical Clinic advise booking between three to five PhotoFacial sessions, typically a month apart, but I stopped – on Woodford’s recommendation – after two treatments, delighted with the results: namely a clear and luminous complexion
What’s more, not only did my complexion appear radiant but (an extra plus), my pores had shrunk – huzzah! – and my skin looked less saggy (the heat stimulates collagen production which plumps up the skin leading to a more youthful appearance). The cherry on top of an already pretty fabulous cake? Woodford’s Photofacial is ridiculously quick: I was in and out of the clinic in 20 minutes, making it a great treatment for time poor Londoners.
You’ll need to adhere to the aftercare – avoid hot showers and saunas, stay out of the sun (so as to prevent new spots showing up) and always, always – even in the throes of winter – wear an SPF – but I didn’t find this hard to follow. After all, you wouldn’t clean your car only to drive it through a field full of mud so why would you want to spend your time and money on an IPLPhotofacial to then fry yourself silly in the sun…
Bottom line? If you’re looking to get camera ready ahead of award season, give the PhotoFacial at Woodford Medical Clinic a go. It really is that good.