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A Fresh Face for the Holidays

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There’s still time to freshen up your looks for the holidays. Admittedly there are probably lots of very important and meaningful things to get done, like planning your family’s celebrations while perhaps reaching out to help others. But if you are having a houseful of guests, attending several holiday gatherings or you just want some assistance in looking healthy and radiant, help is out there.

Since it is a busy—and potentially expensive—time of year, any treatment you consider should be fairly speedy and not too hard on the pocketbook. And you’ll want take on very minimal recovery time. Therefore, three possible choices are: a light or medium chemical peel, a laser treatment or microdermabrasion.

Generally speaking, chemical peels come in three different strengths based on the type of ingredients used and the depth of peel they bring about. Light peels are usually based on a form of alphahydroxy acid; these penetrate only the uppermost layers of skin. While results may not be dramatic, they can smooth fine wrinkles and brighten skin tone. You should be able to resume normal activities immediately—a big benefit. These peels cost around $150 - $200 and most people get more than one peel.

Medium chemical peels are based on trichloroacetic acid (TCA) in varying strengths. They normally do involve a day or two of down time as they cause some redness and irritation. Then, several days later your skin will peel. Results including more even color, wrinkle reduction and even blemish and scar improvement will therefore take around two weeks to be complete. TCA peels cost about $200 to about $1500 depending on the strength of the solution.

Laser treatment is very popular these days because the technology can create visible improvement in skin quality with little to no downtime. Fraxel treatment is one of the best-known options. It works to resurface your skin, fading and smoothing fine lines, areas of hyperpigmentation and scars and blemishes. Downtime varies according to the setting on the laser, but is usually no more than a few days.

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Hi Susan:

Good to hear from you. I have not had microdermabrasion myself, but most of what I've read indicates that people see and feel a difference, but it's not super dramatic.

I'm not a big spender on stuff like this either. The only personal experience I've had with facial cosmetic treatments is 1) with Obagi skin care products and 2) with an Obagi "Blue Peel," a medium-depth chemical peel.

To me, both were worthwhile. The Obagi skin care line does make a big difference in skin quality, including smoother, softer skin and less uneven pigmentation. It's helping me make up for all those days at the beach and on the softball field in my youth, at least partly!

After using Obagi products for several weeks, I had a Blue Peel. My skin was red and tinged with blue for about two days. Then I could more or less go about my business for a few days, then I had to hide out for 3-4 days while the peeling happened. But I am a writer and worked in a small office (not with the public) in those days. If you have a more public job and opt for a medium peel, you may want about two weeks to hide.

None of this stuff is cheap, that's for sure. But in my book the physician-strength treatments are the only ones really worth paying for...not anything you can buy over the counter or have applied by a layperson. Prescription treatments are the only options that really penetrate the outer layers of skin, and that's when you can really see some change.

That said, you look younger than I am and microdermabrasion might be just the level for you right now. If you were open to a few treatments over the space of a short while, that could work. You may have to experiment a bit. Find a provider you feel you can trust, that's an important part of figuring all this out!

Happy holidays!


December 9, 2009 - 4:39pm
HERWriter Guide


Thank you for this share, it's great to read about all the options we have, although the expense is insane (at least for my budget, unfortunately!).

I might check out microdermabrasion. The only thing I've ever had "done" were a couple of facials in my lifetime (sad, eh?!) and nothing makes me glow like a really good night's sleep! Unfortunately, my insomnia doesn't offer that too much :)

Every time I see something on chemical peels, it's always something awful like the scenes in Sex and the City or Absolutely Fabulous. Bright, intensely red faced women who have to hide from the world! How long does it take to really look 'normal' again, from the redness to the peeling? I'm out in the world every day - I don't have the luxury of hiding out!

December 9, 2009 - 2:43pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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