Spa Junkie at… New York Dermatology Group

Our columnist heads to über-facialist Dr Colbert for a three-step polish, pulse and peel

Image: Jay Yeo

I have always believed that good luck comes in threes, and while I have absolutely no hard evidence, I like to think that I am backed up by Chinese numerology (three is lucky), Ayurvedic medicine (based on three doshas) and Christianity (the Holy Trinity). Plus, as the band Blind Melon sang, “Three… is a magic number.”

So it is in pursuit of magic that I find myself heading to New York’s legendary Dr David A Colbert for his three-step Triad medical facial. The emergency-room-medic-turned-dermatologist and skin consultant to the stars has worked on the sets of A Beautiful Mind and The Constant Gardener ­– and Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams are said to be fans. The Triad is a triumvirate of gentle microdermabrasion, laser toning and a chemical peel that claims to re-energise the skin in the short term, and stimulate cell and collagen regeneration in the long term.  

Will the results be omne trium perfectum?

On arrival, I am given a tour of the 11,000sq ft empire that houses dermatologists, a resident psychiatrist and a plastic surgeon, as well as a laser centre with state-of-the-art light technology.

I see Dr Colbert briefly to discuss my needs. He will not perform the facial himself (he only performs the “artistry” that requires a uniquely skilled hand, such as injectables and the more advanced treatments); his role here is to determine the problem, suggest the solution, and then have one of his many beautiful assistants carry out the task.

We start with the microdermabrasion to buff away the dead skin cells. My therapist passes a small wand containing microdermabrasion crystals gently over my skin for about 10 minutes. I feel a slight sucking sensation, which is a little ticklish – a light abrasive feeling, like a cat’s tongue. She glides the machine in methodical strokes – across my forehead and up my face – repeating on areas of pigmentation, brown spots and blemishes.


She then applies a topical anaesthetic gel ready for the toning pulses of the Cutera Xeo Genesis laser. It has an IPL head attachment that has been cooled, which helps to reduce heat (it now only feels slightly warm) as she moves the device over my face for about 15 minutes. This is said to stimulate deeper collagen production and improve texture, tone and colour consistency.

A glycolic-acid (fruit-acid) peel is then applied to remove any remaining dead skin cells on the top micro-layer of the epidermis. There’s a mild tingling, stinging sensation, but it’s fairly minimal and fades after a few minutes. After 15 minutes, it is wiped away.

My therapist warns that I might be a little pink when I leave the clinic, but this should calm down after an hour or so.

The bottom line:

I am really pleased with the results, and there has been very little pain and down-time. With all the dead layers removed, my skin is refreshed and glowing, while the laser has given a collagen boost that has tightened and plumped. I look like I have had a serious run of early nights – fresh, toned and radiant. A lucky three, indeed.

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


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