I’ve struggled with acne for more than a decade. As a teenager, it was excruciating but expected—even the most fresh-faced girls in my classes had the occasional blemish—but now, in my early 20s, it’s just embarrassing. Not only is the condition unsightly, it makes me look younger than I am, and I spend a lot more on makeup than I’d care to admit. I’ve tried every wash, scrub and topical treatment out there to no avail, and a pesky allergy to antibiotics makes the lauded internal treatments impossible.
Then I saw the light … literally.
The Process: I signed up for a combination of Blue Light and BroadBand Light treatments designed to kill P.acnes—the bacteria responsible for blemishes—with a combination of heat and light. When I arrived at ProMD Health’s spa-reminiscent clinic in Timonium, aesthetic consultant Carla Cook slathered my face with numbing ointment and gave me a brief rundown of the procedure. Some 20 minutes later, Physician Assistant Amy Fleming tilted my chair back, covered my eyes with protective lenses and got to work. She warned me that I would feel warmth at first, transitioning to potentially painful hotness.
I couldn’t see anything but flashing light, and the first few passes were warm and quick, almost like stamps of sunlight. As the process continued, however, I’ll be honest: It hurt. I jumped at nearly every blowtorch-like burst of light, and when Fleming asked if it was “torture or just uncomfortable,” I was inclined to say the former. But we soldiered—soldered?—on: She explained what was causing the pain (the light’s penetration of my pimples) and continued as fast as she could.
The Verdict: In the morning, I was distressed to find a few fresh whiteheads, but I now credit them to hormonal changes. Two days later, I’ve seen some improvement: One zit I’d had for a week is nearly gone. But ProMD recommends eight weekly treatments for full results, so it may be a bit too early to call.
I’d better get girded for next time.
Beauty Bar: Make Light Work
With these at-home light therapy alternatives, your skin’s future is bright. 1. It might look a little creepy, but the Glitz LED Tricolor Phototherapy Solution ($250, lafontainecosmetics .com) boasts three treatment options for anti-aging, acne control and minimizing redness. 2. Treat fine lines and get your glow back at a fraction of the cost of in-house procedures with Tria Beauty’s Age-Defying Laser ($495, triabeauty.com). 3. The Baby Blue by Baby Quasar ($399, babyquasar.com) is a contoured spot treatment that uses blue light to heal blemishes.