January 30, 2023

As the era of thick foundation winds down and the desire for naturally radiant “Glossier skin” catapults onto everyone’s list of beauty goals, more and more people are looking into treatments that can give them a boost. Clear + Brilliant is one service that’s leading the charge in skin rejuvenation with its innovative laser technology.

It’s a treatment that has been entrusted by the faces of Hollywood stars like Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Aniston. If that’s not enough to draw you in, maybe the laser treatment’s potential benefits can entice you (like improved elasticity, wrinkle reduction, and dark spot removal to name a few). Even better, this can all be done in under an hour.

Since Clear + Brilliant is so highly revered in the world of skin science, we have three New York-based doctors⁠—Dr. Debra Jaliman, Dr. Joshua Zuckerman and Dr. Marnie Nussbaum⁠—weigh in about what patients should know about this treatment.

What Is Clear + Brilliant?

Clear + Brilliant is a gentle laser resurfacing treatment that was FDA-approved in 2011. Its application is meant to rejuvenate skin by addressing early signs of facial aging, sun damage, tone, texture, and can even minimize pore size. The treatment, according to Zuckerman, is “among the most popular medical lasers nationwide.”

The reason for it? Well, Clear + Brilliant is a fractional laser that’s designed to create millions of microscopic treatment zones in the upper layers of skin, which in turn stimulates collagen production and removes dead cells. This promises to result in refreshed and healthier-looking skin.

How Is Clear + Brilliant Different?

All three doctors agree that Clear + Brilliant differentiates itself by being milder than other fractional laser treatments on the market. Jaliman goes as far to say, “It’s comfortable, fast, and effective.”

It’s comfortable, fast, and effective.

Zuckerman, on the other hand, asserts that Clear + Brilliant instills effective brightening and an improved complexion without interruption of daily activities. “Patients typically experience redness in the treatment area for no more than a few hours versus days or weeks for other devices, and they do not experience any peeling,” he points out.

In Nussbaum’s opinion, Clear + Brilliant is a great treatment for those who want something more than a chemical peel but is also less intense than a fraxel treatment. She also noted that there are two types of Clear + Brilliant available for patients to choose from.

“The original causes deeper injury and targets fine lines and texture,” Nussbaum explains. “Clear + Brilliant Permea is a more superficial laser treatment that targets tone, hyperpigmentation and creates an increased permeability for topical skincare.”

Who Is an Ideal Candidate?

Clear + Brilliant fits a broad range of candidates who are looking to up their skin game. And unlike some other lasers, it’s designed to be used on all skin types and tones—this includes patients with deeper complexions who have been left out of many cosmetic laser treatments in the past.

Since Clear + Brilliant is primarily used for anti-aging, most patients are in their 20s or older. Zuckerman adds, “As an off-label indication, it can produce some improvement in acne scars and active acne in some patients.”

Unlike some other lasers, Clear + Brilliant is designed to be used on all skin types and tones—this includes patients with deeper complexions who have been left out of many cosmetic laser treatments in the past.

Conversely, Nussbaum says a patient’s desired results determine if they are a good candidate. “Depending upon what we want to target depends on what level we do the treatment and how many sessions,” she says.

Patients who are pregnant should heed caution and consult with a medical professional before seeking out a Clear + Brilliant treatment.

Other contraindications to Clear and Brilliant include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Diagnosis or possibility of actinic keratosis, melasma, rosacea, or other significant skin conditions like skin cancer, active infections, cold sores, open wounds, rashes, burns, inflammation, eczema, and psoriasis
  • Diagnosis of a condition that may compromise the immune system, such as HIV, lupus, scleroderma, and/or systemic infections
  • Predisposition to keloid formation or excessive scarring
  • Known sensitivity to light
  • Systemic steroids like prednisone or dexamethasone, which should be rigorously avoided prior to treatment
  • Individuals undergoing Isotretinoin treatment or with drugs in a similar class
  • If photo-sensitizing agents/medications are being taken
  • If use of retinoids hasn’t been avoided for at least two weeks prior to treatment
  • If skin is still recovering from a cosmetic procedure, such as a chemical or mechanical peel, or laser resurfacing
  • If Botox injections or dermal fillers have occurred within the past two weeks

How Many Sessions Do You Need?

For some, results can be seen after a single session. However, most may need to get more to achieve the look they want.

Nussbaum provides a perfect example of why certain conditions will respond quicker to Clear + Brilliant. “After one session, you will note a marked improvement in the removal of dead skin cells and the skin will appear glowing,” she explains. “However, for pigment removal and a reduction in fine lines, more treatments are needed.”

 Jaliman expands on the topic with an explanation of her own. “Results are both immediate and progressive. A few days after treatment, skin will feel softer, look brighter and show a more even tone,” she says. Moreover, she adds that most patients can see visible improvements after three to six treatments.

Zuckerman advises separating each treatment per month for maximum effect. He also recommends routine maintenance treatments every three to four months following the initial course.

Results can last for months or years depending on the patient’s age, skin condition and regimen.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Overall, Clear + Brilliant is non-invasive with minimal adverse side effects. At most, patients typically experience minor swelling and redness for up to six hours on the day of treatment. Some have reported scaling or a slightly rough sandpapery texture a few days after.

Other than that, sun sensitivity is increased in the week following the procedure, and, like with most laser treatments, hyperpigmentation can potentially occur in patients with darker skin.

Is There Downtime or Aftercare?

Clear + Brilliant is a gentle fraxel laser, so there is no downtime after treatment. Patients can walk in during a workday or lunch break and return to their peers looking normal.

The aftercare is also relatively simple and uncomplicated. All three doctors advise using a gentle cleanser and moisturizer twice daily. Nussbaum, however, recommends using a vitamin C serum like SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic acid right after the procedure and every morning afterward. Patients who have gotten Clear + Brilliant Permea should see significant results due to the skin’s increased porosity.

skinceuticals c e ferulic
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum $166.00

Other than that, physical exfoliation and rubbing should be avoided. Zuckerman says retinoids and topical steroids should be put on hold during that time, but most other skincare products can be resumed one day after treatment.

What About Sun Exposure?

Protection from the sun is important every day, but especially after a laser treatment because skin is even more delicate and photosensitive than it usually is.

Jaliman recommends avoiding sun exposure for at least two days after treatment and wearing both sunscreen and a wide brim hat if subject to direct sun.

Zuckerman advises fastidious use of sunscreen that’s SPF 50 or greater for a week after the procedure “in order to protect the skin while new collagen regenerates.”

Nussbaum preaches extra caution for patients and says it’s important to stay out of the sun for five to seven days. She also recommends the use of SPF 30 or higher before going outside.

Is There A Limit?

Clear + Brilliant is generally safe, and according to Jaliman, “It is a risk-free laser.” There is also no limit to date, so patients can seek as many treatments as they think they need. “The number of treatments ultimately depends on personal concerns and skincare desires,” she goes on.

“Sufficient time between treatments, at least one month should be observed in order to allow the regenerative process to complete itself,” Zuckerman points out.

He adds, “Because of its gentle, yet effective nature, this is a treatment that can potentially be employed as a component of one’s skincare regimen for their entire life.”

How To Maintain Your Results

The best way to maintain your results is with a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, water intake, exercise, sleep, and skin care practices. Sunscreen is often one component patients are lacking in. It should be applied liberally to skin multiple times a day.

Zuckerman says, “New collagen production can be maximized by augmenting this regimen with a growth factor serum such as SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum, or the pressed serum from Sente.”

Alternatively, Nussbaum recommends using a vitamin C serum in the morning and a retinoid at night to increase cellular turnover.