I’m a cosmetic treatments baby. I don’t get facials, I’ve only just started investing in a skincare routine, and apart from an honest-to-god life-changing chin sculpting treatment (and yes, a few dalliances with lip fillers), my face is pretty much held together by sunscreen and tinted moisturiser.

Well, part of the job is trying new and interesting treatments so that YOU, the reader, can suss if you want to try them, which is how I found myself with what looked like a sunburnt face on the hottest day of the year.

It’s called a Clear + Brilliant treatment, and don’t worry, it’s not actually a sunburn. Designed by the people behind the Fraxel laser treatment, it’s a gentler version that’s a nice introduction to the world of laser treatments.

So, what is Clear + Brilliant and what can it do?

Essentially, it uses a Fraxel laser to create micro injuries on your face, triggering a healing reaction without actually damaging your skin. According to the Clear + Brilliant people themselves (who comped my treatment), it “creates millions of microscopic treatment zones in the upper layers of the skin, replacing damaged skin with healthy, younger looking tissue.” Unlike Fraxel, which is a deep penetration to repair damage, Clear + Brilliant is a surface-level treatment to give you a glow.

It’s suitable for just about anyone, except for people with super sensitive skin or anyone dealing with rosacea.

So what can it treat? The main aim of the game is to give you brighter, clearer and a more even skin tone within a matter of days. Brighter + clearer = younger. It’s also used to even out your tone, and reduce the appearance of:

  • acne scars
  • traumatic scars (e.g. from surgery or injury)
  • age spots
  • brown sunspots
  • fine lines
  • pores

Given the nature of it, you should avoid using retinoids in the two weeks prior, and also avoid sun exposure in the days leading up to it and after. In fact, you should always avoid sun exposure to your face, and slap on that 50+ every damn day. That’s not a Clear + Brilliant thing, that’s a Getting Good Skin thing.

Does it hurt?

Yes – but not that bad. You’ll be numbed for 30 minutes prior to the treatment, and during treatment it’s no worse than a regular laser hair removal appointment with a low intensity. (Bear in mind, I’m someone who finds the pain of eyebrow waxing kind of enjoyable. It’s not BAD or anything but it’s also not a facial, ya know?)

I had mine at the Skin Renu clinic in Sydney’s Balmain, and can confirm there was a lot of care taken to make it as painless as possible. The actual treatment itself is no more than 20 minutes.

In fact, the slightly more painful bit is the aftermath. Fraxel will give you the look and feel of a bad sunburn for a day or two afterwards. I used a LOT of moisturiser (the non-scented kind) and held many cold cloths to my face, like I imagine ladies did in olden times when one of them fainted.

Like a sunburn, the discomfort lessens within a few days, and also like a sunburn, your skin will flake a bit. All in the name of beauty!

How much does it cost?

That depends on where you go, but each treatment will set you back around $200 -$300. It’s also recommended you have two to four treatments, so work that into your budget.

Okay, the big one: does it work?

I’m pretty lucky in that I have decent skin (combo of genetics, an okay-ish skincare routine and sheer dumb luck). While I didn’t notice any majorly dramatic changes (to be expected after just one treatment), it did feel a little brighter? Here’s some before + after shots for you to decide.

alex bruce-smith
Publishing not one but TWO no makeup selfies in the name of content.

Would I get it again? Absolutely. Given most people need two treatments to see changes, I would love to see how much the sun spots on my cheek would fade. Next time, I wouldn’t accidentally schedule it for a high 30-something degree day. You just don’t need that in your life, ya know?

You can find out more about the treatment here.

Image: Alex Bruce-Smith