Health & Grooming | Chronicles of a Spa Junkie

Spa Junkie on… Harmony laser facial treatment

Our covert reporter overcomes her burning fear of laser skin treatment

Spa Junkie on… Harmony laser facial treatment

Image: Jay Yeo

January 17 2012
Spa Junkie

Part: 1 | 2

It has taken years for me to pluck up the courage to go back under the light. About eight years ago, naïve, over-zealous and already a devout beauty junkie, I waltzed into a Renew Medica clinic in Maddox Street, London, in search of the IPL (intense pulsed light) skin treatment, which, according to beauty magazines and my friends in the know, would not only remove the faint little red veins that sprawled like the M25 across my face despite my young age (the medical term for this condition is telangiectasia, and most agree that it’s hereditary – thanks Grandma!); it would also work to stimulate the collagen in the deeper layers of the dermis. This would bring to bear new, young and youthful, “ten years off you darling” type of skin.

“My God – what on earth have you done to yourself? This time you’ve gone too far; you’ve destroyed your face!” my boyfriend boomed angrily from the landing when I arrived home that evening. Not exactly the response I was looking for.

Moments later, as I looked with shock in the mirror, uncontrollable tears began streaming down my face, stinging the burns there. I looked as if I had been done over by a rookie cattle rustler – little Band Aid-shaped red blistery burns randomly etched across my face. They might as well have pierced my nose and ears to complete the look. Needless to say, I was home-bound for more than a week, with even the most mundane, and must-do, chores such as going to the bank rendered off-limits; needless to say, the “balaclava in May in Belgravia” is not a good look.

However, medical-grade vitamin E and vitamin A cream did the trick in the end, and the broken capillaries had virtually vanished. And, if I am honest, six weeks down the line, with the burns completely healed, my skin had actually improved remarkably.

Cut back to the present. I’m sitting at the Michaeljohn salon on Albemarle Street, relaying the story to a knowingly nodding Umay. I ask her what the latest legislation is for this type of treatment.

“The UK is one of the few countries in Europe that allows beauty salons with a licence and a liability to perform laser,” she says. “It does not have a sound legislation to this regard, and usually the therapist needs only to be trained as an aesthetician – which can be anything from 300 to 1,500 hours’ worth of training; it really just depends where they were schooled. It’s much more regulated in the USA, France, and Italy, where only trained doctors can administer these treatments.”

Umay herself isn’t a doctor, but she has been working in the business for more than a decade and has trained all over Europe. She has been looking after my skin for a couple of years, and so I trust her to do a good job on the laser facial today.

One lesson I have learned is the importance of doing thorough due diligence on therapists prior to treatments. Word of mouth has served me well; seeing the professionals who have treated people who I think look great has prevented the bank robber look from becoming a seasonal wardrobe staple.

“For the procedure today, I’m using the Harmony IPL system, which is FDA approved,” continues Umay. “It’s a light-based technology that works really well for the kind of low-level redness you want to get rid of, and it will do wonders for your sun damage and some of the fine lines. You’ll see – you will be very happy with the results.”

She lays me down and applies a cold transparent gel to my face.

Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.