I am a child of the 80s when the perfect tan was as essential to your look as blue eyeliner and big hair. I remember spending hours by the pool every summer, covered in tanning oil, rotating every half hour like a rotisserie chicken, with no SPF or sun protection anywhere in sight. Though thankfully, my habits, and my hairstyle, changed, the sins of my youth are written all over my face nearly four decades later. Uneven texture, brown spots, and more fine lines than I probably should have at only 52 years are becoming harder to ignore. Add the dryness that comes with hormonal changes into the mix, and I would sell my soul to the devil to regain my youthful glow. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go to such extremes. Instead, I got myself a HALO peel, and the results are heavenly!
Say Hello to HALO
Beyonce said it best in her hit song: “Baby, I can see your halo, you know you’re my saving grace.” Okay, so she was talking about love, but she might as well have been referring to the HALO peel by Sciton. This resurfacing treatment, with its combination of ablative and non-ablative wavelengths, is a saving grace for skin, offering maximum results with minimal downtime. Suitable for all skin types, this first-of-its-kind hybrid fractional laser addresses sunspots, fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, skin dullness, acne scars, and more on the face, neck, and chest. Completely customizable depending on the patient’s needs, it delivers consistently impressive results in just one or two treatments with minimal discomfort.
Who Should Consider a HALO Peel?
“The HALO is a must for anyone who wants to prevent or reverse aging and maintain healthy glowing skin,” says Marta Paul, Owner of Nova Aesthetics, a medical spa in San Antonio, Texas, where I go for all things skincare related. Paul says she invested in the high-end laser for her practice because she was looking for something that could make an incredible impact on the skin without the weeks to months of downtime required by a more aggressive resurfacing laser like a CO2. Plus, she is a fan of the manufacturer’s reputation for creating what she describes as “top-notch” aesthetic devices backed by science.
How Does a HALO Peel Work?
The HALO works by creating tiny wounds in the skin’s epidermis and dermis layers. As the wounds heal, microscopic epidermal necrotic debris (MENDS) pushes to the surface giving the skin the look and feel of sandpaper. After a few days, the MENDS fall off, revealing baby-smooth, glowing skin. But it doesn’t stop there. As the body produces more collagen to heal the wounds, the skin continues to tighten and improve for a smoother, more youthful appearance. Sounds too good to be true, right? Wrong! I recently decided to try the HALO, and the results were better than I imagined. I highly recommend trying a HALO peel for yourself, but there are a few things you should know before you do.
The Pain Factor
The most common question I got from friends following the procedure was, “did it hurt?” The answer is no. While it’s not what I would describe as pleasant or relaxing, I did not find the procedure itself painful. As someone who regularly gets needles jammed into her frown lines and crow’s feet, I don’t think it’s any worse than Botox. In fact, it may even be better because of the topical numbing cream applied before treatment.
My aesthetician and I agreed on a more aggressive approach, so I felt a hot, prickly sensation. However, it wasn’t unbearable, thanks to the machine’s cooling element that blew simultaneously. Honestly, the most uncomfortable aspect of the procedure was the occasional whiff of burnt skin. The most painful part didn’t occur until immediately after treatment when, for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, I felt like I had the worst sunburn of my life. However, this burning sensation is completely normal and not a cause for concern.
Again, I chose a more aggressive treatment. As a result, I was extremely swollen the following day and looked like I’d fallen asleep in the sun. My skin was tight and a bit sore. As the day progressed, the redness turned to a bronze, sandpapery texture as all the MENDS made their way to the surface.
So now I was noticeably swollen, looked like I had coffee grounds all over my face, and felt like my face would crack if I moved it too much. At this point, I began to wonder if I’d made a mistake. As part of the recovery, you are not allowed to wash your face with anything other than a gentle cleanser. No washcloths, no scrubbing, just lather, rinse, repeat. I was sent home with a healing moisturizer and sunscreen to apply daily. Sunscreen is crucial, especially if you live in a warm, sunny climate like I do. The emerging new skin is fragile, like a baby’s, and highly susceptible to the sun’s damaging rays. Also, you cannot wear makeup until around day 3 to 5, depending on how quickly the skin heals.
The Healing Process
Day two found me still significantly swollen and with the MENDS on full display. I can’t lie—I was a little worried, but I have been going to Nova Aesthetics for years, and they have never steered me wrong. So, I continued my wash, moisturize, and trust the process.
Sure enough, like how the sun peeks through on a cloudy day, I began to notice little patches of clear, pink skin between the tight, brown flakes. During this part of the process, it can be tempting to pick, scratch, or over-scrub the face because it’s exciting to see what’s underneath, and it’s a little itchy as it heals. Resist, resist, resist! You will only aggravate the skin, and you may cause scarring. Leave it alone, and then watch as, over the next couple of days, more and more beautiful skin begins to emerge. By around day five, I had nothing but glowing pink skin that looked tighter, more even, and, dare I say it, younger!
The Last Word
In the interest of full disclosure, this treatment was gifted to me by a family member for Christmas (yes, skin treatments are almost always on my wish list). However, I would happily treat myself to another one. Prices vary depending on where you go, but at my aesthetician’s office, the cost is $1350, which includes the post-care skincare and a facial with dermaplaning to remove any remaining dry skin following the procedure.
“This is a treatment that isn’t going to break the bank, and it’s something you can do once a year to maintain healthy, youthful skin,” says Paul.
The HALO peel is not a service to cut corners on, so don’t try to find a budget-friendly option or an online “coupon.” Instead, find a reputable provider and ask plenty of questions, including how long the technicians have trained on the machine, how many HALO peels they have performed, and ask for before and after photos. Talk with your technician at length beforehand to discuss how aggressive you want to go with the treatment and what you can expect. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and, in inexperienced hands, it can do more harm than good. However, when done by an experienced, knowledgeable professional, the results are nothing short of heavenly.
Before and After