It's gonna get sappy up in here.
If you follow super cool beauty writers like myself on Instagram (hint, hint), then it’s possible your timeline has been inundated as of late with pictures of people having their skin “laundered.”
I had to investigate what this meant because 1) I was annoyed that people were getting a beauty treatment that I didn’t know about, and 2) I’m easily swayed by pictures of attractive people on the Internet. Show me a picture of someone with perfect skin, and I’ll hand you my wallet in an effort to get my skin like that. Some people smoke or abuse drugs; I am addicted to skin care. I guess it could be worse.
After further investigation, I discovered Skin Laundry was an LA-based facial spa that offers only one express skincare service, and it involves lasers. Normally I would run for the hills at hearing this, because I am a hyponchondriac catastrophizer that thinks I’m going to be murdered at all times. (I should probably lay off the Investigation Discovery Channel, but this is who I am). You tell me there are lasers, and you’ll watch my eyes glaze over immediately.
Skin Laundry maintained my interest, however, by promising a non-invasive, pain-free experience that only lasts 10 minutes. You can’t even get a Starbucks order done in 10 minutes from start to finish, so I was game.
The service promises to deep clean your pores like nothing else, reduce hyperpigmentation from acne scars, improve collagen production (aka help plump up the skin where those wrinkles are starting to form), and just improve your overall skin health. I had to know more about this magical unicorn laser.
My First Trip to Skin Laundry:
When you walk into this place for the first time, you’ll probably notice that all the people who work there have flawless skin. At first I equated this to them all being CHILDREN compared to my extremely wise and weathered 35 years on this planet. But when I actually went into the procedure room, my nurse was probably the same age as me, just with far better skin.
Every employee I spoke to there was raving about the results, and not in that phony I’m-trying-to-sell-you way. They genuinely believe in the treatment and its results. And it’s a good thing because I had a near panic attack in the room when they started the first laser on me. It was the YAG laser, the more powerful of the two that they use.
It’s not that it hurt at all, but my habitual hypochondria got the better of me and I thought my skin was burning off. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t. It was just the smell of burnt dirt coming out of my pores.
The sensation of the first laser is more annoying than it is painful, and after I calmed down we finished the process in about 30 seconds. I felt horribly embarrassed but my nurse was superbly patient with me and ensured me the second part, the IPL portion, was pain-free. They lubed me up with some sort of gel all over my face and proceeded to do the IPL. I felt nothing.
And then it was over. That was it. They cleaned the gel off my face, applied some of their SPF 35 lotion (they have a full skincare line as well that is pretty great), and sent me on my way. You can go about your business after 10 minutes like nothing happened to you. You can work out, although you should probably do that before the treatment since they deep clean your pores, you can go to brunch, or you can choose to lie on your couch all day watching reality TV, which is exactly what I did. My skin felt, and looked, cleaner and more toned than when I walked in.
Talking to Skin Laundry Founder, Yen Reis:
After my second treatment at Skin Laundry, I was lucky enough to have a conversation with Yen about all things skin. I’m a feminist who gets super excited to speak with female entrepreneurs, especially ones that are as cool as Yen. I kind of geek out in that way, and get all nervous, but her openness and calm demeanor relaxed me immediately.
I should mention here that she’s only a few years older than me, but you would never know if you hadn’t researched her first, like I did. You’d probably guess she was in her 20s, and she wasn’t wearing a stitch of makeup.
Turns out, the reason Skin Laundry exists in the first place is that after she had her children, she had a terrible bout of hormonal acne that expensive skincare regimens didn’t help. She learned, much to our benefit, that if you just turn down the intensity of the laser, you can do it regularly. Even at a milder level, the lasers still penetrate 2.5 millimeters into the top layers of the skin and the dermis, a deep clean that you just can’t get from regular skin care.
Reis says, “We’re simply a smart skin solution. I’m not reinventing the wheel in any way, I’m just allowing people to have access to the benefits of lasers. But at the same time, we’re administering it so it’s not so invasive. I don’t believe in traumatizing one’s skin or doing something so invasive that you’re peeling for three days.” Maybe I should’ve spoken to her before my first treatment so I wouldn’t have been such a scaredy-cat when I walked in.
Fresh off my second session, and now considering myself an old pro, I asked how often one should really come in.
“It’s really about maintaining the skin regularly to get the compounded effect that you want. I don’t like the idea of doing something invasive once a year and then not doing anything. What’s the point? You’re just going out and getting sun damage and pollution on your skin for the rest of the year. That’s what the sun does. That’s what pollution does. That’s what living your life does. But if we can reverse that damage once a week, you’re a lot better off. And at the same time you’re stimulating collagen at a faster rate, you’re reducing oil glands, breaking down hyperpigmentation, removing dead skin cells every week. If you’re doing that once a week your skin is recuperating at a much faster level.”
But of course, I’m a busy (read: poor) New York City dweller, so I had to know if the treatments are still effective if you can’t come once a week.
“I think it’s still nice to do a treatment like this, because essentially we’re giving you a deep, professional clean, even if it’s once a month or however often you can come. But, like everything in life, for the best results, you should maintain it. It’s like exercise. I tell people we’re not a quick fix, but if you commit to us, you will see your skin improve. If you pay $200 for a 90 minute facial, that’s 4 sessions of Skin Laundry, but you’re getting the benefits of a laser here.”
I happen to be obsessed with my skin the way other people are obsessed with getting blow-outs once a week, so I think the value is there. I personally think you can’t walk out of your apartment in Manhattan and NOT spend $50.
Reis plans to open more Skin Laundry locations in New York this year. There are already 4 in Los Angeles. However, the thing that excited me the most about our conversation was her take on beauty and the stigma that we are all supposed to just WAKE UP LIKE THIS.
“I don’t feel women have to shy away from admitting that they maintain themselves. You’re smart enough to maintain your face, so good for you! I think everyone is beautiful, all you have to do is take care of your skin. We all grow old, the trick is just to do it gracefully and with great skin.”
The Real Truth About The Results:
There are 2 things that you need to know about this service. The first is that, yes, it actually does work. But the second truth is that it takes time and multiple treatments to do all the things that it promises to do.
After my first treatment, I saw major results. My pores were deep cleaned as if I sat through an hour-long facial, and my skin tone was decidedly more even. But my self-inflicted scars from popping my zits? Those are going to take a few sessions to fade completely.
I’ve only had two treatments (you’ll be happy to hear I had no freak-outs during my second session), but I’m impressed that I’ve had no new breakouts since I started. Two of the dark spots I have on my face from picking have significantly faded to the point that I can walk outside without having to do a full face of makeup to hide the scars. There are still a few persistent ones that will take a few more sessions to fade completely.
The treatment ranges from $50-$100 per session (basically the price depends on if you buy a membership package or not), which can get pricey if you’re trying to go once or twice a week. I am certainly not trying to go that often, but if it decreases the skincare products you need to buy in the future, then it could be worth the value.
The way I see it is: I spent $150 for 3 sessions, that have improved my skin better than a regular facial can, and I’ve never paid as little as $50 for a facial. I am one of the lucky ones that has semi-decent skin without having to do much (if I could just keep my hands off my face), but I think this is a great service for people who have always had trouble with their skin and are looking for a non-invasive way to rectify it.
It’s also fantastic for people who have spent too much time in the sun, because regular facials serums or creams can’t penetrate far enough into your skin layers to reverse all that damage.
I’m definitely invested in the process. I barely care about my hair and hardly ever spend money on it, except for the occasional impulse purchase at the Sephora counter, but spending money on my skin is my truth.