I Lasered My Face in the Name of Beauty

Hailing from LA, Skin Laundry has been likened to the ‘Drybar of Facials’, serving up facials quicker than a sweetgreen line. There is only one facial on the menu, the Laser Facial, which is supposedly safe for all skin types. Game to try anything once, I visited the TriBeCa shop for a lunchtime facial.


Skin Laundry is part medi-spa, part Pinterest, with chic marble and crisp white interior. Unlike a typical dermatologist office, Skin Laundry has a digital-first check in process, with an extensive questionnaire which is then stored on file. This is when I spotted Elyse Shelger, the Director at Skin Laundry who was RADIANT and had the glow of all of the best TriBeCa cliches; kale juices, Tracey Anderson, then followed up by hot yoga. I was officially ready. I was then asked to remove any makeup, lotions, SPF, etc. on my face with their signature wipes at an equinox style dressing station. A registered nurse then, slightly sternly, confirmed my questionnaire answers before beginning treatment.

Skin Laundry, Laser Facial

The laser facial is a one-two punch of two different laser treatments. The first is a YAG laser, which could trigger some anxiety for some. Just like laundry, they did a test patch on my hand to ensure I could take the heat before moving onto my mug. It feels just like a rubber band snap, and I remember thinking “oh right, this is a laser treatment, this is going to hurt”. But I soldiered on, and after being geekily goggled up, I was given the YAG treatment, which hurts slightly, in a way that you are very thankful the whole procedure is super short, but not nearly as bad as a hair removal.

The YAG laser is penetrating 2.5mm below the skin, going deep into the dermis layer, where, according to my nurse, it is vaporizing dirt and removing bacteria. This is where I became suspicious. How does it vaporize dirt? How is anything vaporized actually? Some science for you: the laser is raising the temperature of our deep tissue levels, which are mostly water, to boiling point of 100°C which is then converted to vapor, it then gasifies, expands, and is removed by vaporization. My nurse informed me that the only way to reach this dermis layer is through laser, and this process is best for deep cleaning pores, reducing inflammation and stimulating collagen. The YAG laser also gave me a burning smell, which she said is the “smell of success”, but I am pretty sure it was my peach fuzz.

Up next was the IPL laser, which feels like ultrasound gel combined with flashing lights. The gel felt nice and cool, and is a conductor to the IPL treatment. The light is exceptionally bright, despite wearing goggles, I was scared for my eyes, but then also conscious that squinting with wrinkles could be ill advised, so I tried my best to play it cool. But like the YAG, the whole process is extremely efficient and quick. While both operate on different wavelengths for different results; the first laser is more deep into the dermis, but the second laser is more surface-level, targeting redness, brown spots, inflammation, bacteria, sunspots etc.

Skin Laundry, Laser Facial, Light Therapy

Both lasers are very gentle, so gentle that you might question if it is doing anything. It is an ideal treatment for melasma and acne-prone individuals since there is no surface-level irritation. Depending on how much you’re willing to shell out, it is safe enough to do every other day, but most people come once a week, like laundry, get it?

I’m struggling with the one-size-fits-all methodology of the treatment, since skincare is so personal and varied across each individual. I am also a bit wary of Skin Laundry for not undertaking any clinical trials, and since the procedure is done by nurses or estheticians (depending on your state) and not by dermatologists, that extra seal of approval goes a long way with matters of the face.

I took this photo a few days after my treatment, and while I am anywhere near the glowy staff level, my skin was definitely a bit brighter.

Skin Laundry, Laser Facial, Light Therapy

For 15 minutes, it was relatively painless, possibly vaporized some gunk, but I didn’t see a seismic shift in my skin in the week proceeding. It is worth taking advantage of the first free facial special to try it out yourself. Just be extra careful to wait 24 hours before exfoliating, and to use SPF. But since this treatment is uber gentle, it is meant for regular maintenance use, rather than drastic changes, just like your permanent press cycle.

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