How to create light-based facials for clients that deliver results

Do you want to create bespoke, light-based facials for clients that deliver results? Laser aesthetician Kerry Belba reveals how to achieve this in salon, covering the skincare benefits of laser, LED and IPL.

Throughout my 17 years workingas a laser aesthetician, I’veseen a direct correlation between the influence of social media and the increase in demand for advanced facials. Most recently, the use of photographic filters has only served to increase the demand for flawless skin. 
Long gone are the days of the ’80s when clients would settle for a professional cleanse, steam and face mask.

As pampering and enjoyable as these treatments are, the modern, time-poor and social media influenced customer is far more discerning, and, tends to come to salon or clinic armed with fairly in-depth knowledge of advanced aesthetics, and the results they can expect from these treatments.

This is not to say, however, that clients don’t arrive misinformed or have unrealistic expectations. On the contrary, part of our jobs is to de-bunk the myths and set clear and very realistic treatment outcomes. Nonetheless, clients are now more savvy, better informed and more demanding of their time and spend, and rightly so.

In a world where people are spinning so many plates between the different parts of their lives, an hour of in-salon treatment has to give what I call “face value” – value in terms of the visible before-and-after results and, in turn, value for money. Enter the advanced light-based facial.

Before & After (Illumifacial)

Before (top) and after (bottom): two treatments comprising tri-acid peel, Lynton Lumina 650nm and 585nm handpieces, and Quanta Q-Plus EVO Q-Switch Ruby 694nm. Photos courtesy of Laser Skin Solutions

Turn on the light

Unlike injectables – which many clients opt for instead of seeing if they can firstly achieve their desired results through less invasive means – laser, IPL and LED facials not only reverse sun damage by clearing pigmentation (or, in the case of LED), constricting broken capillaries and evening out skin tone, but also stimulate collagen production deep within the dermis.

Back around 2006 when I opened my laser clinic, it quickly became apparent when looking at before-and-after photos of facial thread vein removal that not only were the vessels disappearing, but the quality of the overall skin was drastically improving in terms of texture, collagen production and shrinking of large pores.

What started off as a nice and somewhat unexpected side effect of laser and IPL treatment 16 years ago is now part of a larger treatment protocol for laser facials. The IllumiFacial, which is one of the most popular treatments with clients in my clinic, combines a tri-acid peel with two different IPL wavelengths for collagen stimulation, thread vein treatment, evening skin tone and pigmentation removal.

Its origins lie in the original Combined Facial Treatment (CFT), which I was performing all that time ago, whereby a glycolic peel (done a week beforehand) was combined with a full face IPL treatment with a 650nm wavelength handpiece.

All in one

Fast forward to 2021, and advances in peel products, together with what we now know about combining different laser and IPL wavelengths, has given birth to everything that the 21st century, time-poor client has been waiting for – a facial which can safely combine a tri-acid peel and two different laser/IPL wavelengths (and in my clinic, additionally a Dermalux LED phototherapy treatment), all within an hour.

As individual treatments, the total price for these advanced procedures can be in excess of £600. However, with some clever planning of salon/clinic time and a desire to create a facial package which is financially viable to most clients, therapists with the right laser, IPL and LED tools can create truly bespoke facial treatments which leave the customer looking and feeling fantastic.

At my clinic in Bournemouth, bespoke laser facials combining peels, IPL and LED cost £250, a considerably more expensive treatment than the traditional cleanse, steam and moisturise, but nevertheless around the same price tag as toxin and fillers. Arguably, I believe the results of laser facials last considerably longer than some injectables, which need to be repeated every three-to-six months.

Before & After 2 (IllumiFacial)

Illumifacial before (right) and after (left): four treatments comprising triacid peel and 585nm IPL handpiece. Photos courtesy of The Lynton Clinic

Getting techy

It is often said that healthy skin comes from within, and I would emphatically agree with that. However, skin can be made even healthier with certain wavelengths applied in the correct doses, causing a cascade of biological reactions which occur in the form of healing, stimulating, repairing and calming of the skin.

The mitochondria, otherwise known as the “powerhouse” cells in our skin, generate most of the chemical energy needed to power the cell’s biochemical reactions. In short, their function has a huge impact on how our skin looks, feels and functions, which is why application of certain wavelengths into the deepest layers (dermis and subcutaneous) energises our cells.

Skin cells that are energised function better and can regenerate up to 200 times faster, which in turn leads to faster skin healing and a more youthful, radiant complexion. The best bit? Treatment doesn’t necessarily require a lot of time for either client or therapist, as Alice Hart-Davis, founder of The Tweakments Guide, explains.

“At The Light Salon in Harvey Nichols, London, clients sit under an LED canopy for 20 minutes for a therapeutic dose of red, near infrared or blue light, while The Skin Laundry laser facial at Skin Laundry, London, gives customers a cleanse, then a quick once-over with both IPL and an ND:Yag laser, and they’re out within 15 minutes. Is it a serious treatment?

“Well, it’s just enough light tech to get the skin glowing and vaporise the grime that builds up in the pores, so you see an instant brightening result – though half a dozen sessions would be needed to see greater changes in the skin,” she says.

“So, this kind of facial won’t give the results you’d get from a personalised treatment with a laser specialist, but they can be a way to introduce people who are wary of lasers to the whole concept of light-based treatments,” she adds.

In practice

Indeed, personalised light-based facials with experienced therapists have the ability to truly transform skin in ways we could never have imagined possible 30 years ago. Results can vary and while client selection and practitioner qualifications and experience are key, the quality of the laser, IPL and LED equipment in your toolbox is also paramount.

No matter how experienced or qualified a therapist may be, without the right medical-grade lasers, IPLs or LEDs, it is simply not possible to get the kind of results worthy of that Instagram selfie. As with everything in life, you really do get what you pay for and this is true more than ever when it comes to light-based devices.

The sky is the limit with 21st century facials, so arm yourself and your clinic with the most phenomenal arsenal of “light tools” and go forth confident in the knowledge that you have the best equipment at your disposal – not just for creating that before-and-after “wow” factor, but for truly optimising skin health and vitality for your clients.

Kerry Belba HeadshotKerry Belba is a laser practitioner, trainer, PB Webinar speaker and owner of Laser Skin Solutions clinic in Bournemouth.