If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you probably know about my skin odyssey. From several food intolerances to going off the pill, my skin suffered from severe breakouts and I just could not control it anymore. At some point my dermatologist classified those breakouts as adult acne. Something I’ve been spared throughout my entire time as teenager all of a sudden hit me. Acne isn’t cool, to say the least. It hurts, it’s frustrating, and it’s hard enough to deal with it in everyday life. However, when you’ve got an important event marked in your calendar – like, let’s say your own freaking wedding – it gets even worse.
Two things I’ve learned the hard way throughout my journey with adult acne is that first of all, everybody’s skin is different. A treatment that might work for one person could be totally wrong for the other, and just because it worked for me doesn’t automatically mean it will work for you.
Secondly, give your skin and body the time it deserves. Adult acne (or any other form of breakouts, clogged pores, rosacea or sensitive skin) very often comes from within and simply is a sign of your body showing you that something is a bit off. What I can warmly recommend you is to seek help from a professional dermatologist. Have your skin checked, perhaps have yourself checked for food intolerances and maybe even consider having your blood checked for micronutrients. Based on this, ask your dermatologist to suggest treatments that will most likely work for you.
For the first time in what feels like forever, my skin is finally back to “normal” and I have the feeling it’s balanced again. To give you an overview about the treatments that I had done – particularly with regard to my wedding – I put together this list for you:
What is microneedling and how does it work?
Microneedling – as the name would suggest – uses a tool with tiny (micro) needles that puncture the outermost layer of the skin. These punctures, which are essentially microscopic injuries, help the skin in producing more collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid – all strengthening the skin in different ways. Collagen helps with tightening skin, elastin provides elasticity, and hyaluronic acid gives the skin its much needed ability to store moisture. Generally, microneedling is used to enhance the appearance of the skin – providing a plumper and brighter complexion, as well as treating different kinds of scars (such as acne scars).
Another plus that comes with the microscopic punctures created by the needles is the fact that products applied directly after (some even apply them before) the treatment are more easily absorbed into the skin, thus working their magic a little better. While at-home microneedling treatments are safe up to 1 mm needle length (provided you handle the tool correctly!), anything going above that should be done at a doctor’s office, as the risk of infection is much higher, and pain increases with needle size.
Which results can you expect from microneedling?
Microneedling promises a younger, fresher appearance, aiding in minimizing pores, reducing wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation, scars, and even stretch marks. The sessions usually don’t require a lot of time, and depending on how long the needles used are you can walk out the doctor’s office without having to hide your face from others. There might be some redness and swelling, and some even experience minor bleeding (again, needle length and sensitivity of skin are the deciding factors), but most people are able to go about their days without any major complaints. Results are pretty immediate when it comes to plumpness and absorption of products, however, as with many cosmetic procedures, it takes a few sessions to show improvement in more severe blemishes and skin conditions.
Starting from approx. €160 per treatment session.
My personal experience:
I had a total of 6 micro needling sessions throughout a time span of approximately 9 months. To me personally, microneedling showed great results – already after the first session! My skin is rather sensitive and I wouldn’t go so far as to say you can go back to the office immediately after the treatment. I did experience some redness and swelling, and since you should not wear make up right after the treatment, I always made sure I didn’t have any important meetings after the microneedling sessions. In terms of pain: It does hurt a little – especially on the forehead and on areas where the skin is rather thin – but it’s totally doable!
How does a chemical peel work?
We all know and love (maybe a little too much) the regular facial peels and scrubs for easy at-home-use. They give a smooth and fresh-faced feeling, but unfortunately can be quite abrasive – leading to tears in your skin, depending on the type of product used. For my wedding I of course wanted as smooth a skin as possible, but my dermatologist suggested I try a different kind of exfoliation to get the best, and longest-lasting results.
A chemical peel, as the name indicates, does not use abrasive and gritty textures to exfoliate the skin like a mechanical scrub does, but instead uses a watery, gel-like texture of specifically formulated substances like fruit acids or enzymes to remove dead skin cells on the outermost layer of the skin. In addition, peels not only exfoliate (known as the keratolytic effect), but also aid in restructuring collagen in the skin aka speed up cell turnover – which is exactly what we want when it comes to skincare!
Which results can you expect from a chemical peel?
At my dermatologist’s office they offer different types of chemical peels, differing in depth of penetration from superficial to deeply penetrating. Based on what your needs are (e.g. acne, wrinkles, large pores, or scars), you should decide together with your doctor which type of treatment will suit your skin best, and will lead to results you are happy with. In general, peels provide a brighter, younger, and smoother complexion, but depending on which intensity you choose and which condition your skin was in to begin with, results will vary.
- Light chemical peels are very gentle on your skin, causing little to no redness, while still providing a fresher, more glowing appearance. Typically, results last around 1-2 months.
- Medium treatments use different combinations of ingredients, allowing the peel to penetrate more deeply. As there is more flawed skin being removed (and therefor more ‘fresh’ skin being revealed!), this is typically the choice of treatment for deeper wrinkles, or skin discolouration. With this treatment you can expect results to last anywhere from 2-6 months.
- Deeper peels need stronger acids to penetrate to a deeper layer and lead to a maximum of results. This treatment should only be considered in agreement and after consultation with your doctor, since it can lead to burn-like wounds on your skin in order to provide long-lasting results (usually deep wrinkle removal/improvement). Here, results can last for years!
With many chemical peels, optimal results will be achieved after multiple treatments spread over the course of several weeks or months, to provide the skin with ample time to regenerate between sessions. Another very important (!) thing I’d like to mention for the time after chemical peels is the use of a high SPF-factor sunblock, as your skin is super sensitive to sunlight after treatments.
Starting from €130 per treatment session.
My personal experience:
The chemical peel was the first treatment I had done when I started to seek help for my adult acne and the resulting scars. Although I did like the result of the treatment – it truly feels like you have the softest baby skin afterwards – it wasn’t my favorite treatment. First of all, to me personally the chemical peel hurt a lot more than microneedling. Secondly, my skin kept peeling for a few days after the treatment – which is normal and nothing to be worried about – however, it was tricky for me to handle because I had to shoot content and applying make up on peeling skin is rather impossible (imagine it like it would be after a sun burn).
How does microdermabrasion work?
The term microdermabrasion already suggests some sort of abrasive technique (which it is!), which might sound scary, but is in fact a very safe, minimally invasive, and highly regarded form of polishing your skin. With this procedure, the superficial layer of skin is removed with the help of a special applicator (usually diamond or other tiny crystals), and sometimes in combination with an ultrasonic treatment. By gently sanding away dead skin cells, the skin is encouraged to produce new ones, leaving you with younger looking and rejuvenated skin. Simultaneously, a vacuum makes sure there are no dead skin cells or other particles left that might clog the freshly prepped skin. That is why I would recommend going to a professional (certified aesthetician or dermatologist) to have the procedure done instead of opting for at-home kits, since it is a lot safer and reduces the risk or injury or infection significantly.
Which results can you expect from a microdermabrasion?
A microdermabrasion session doesn’t take very long and provides immediate results, without leaving your skin red or swollen for long (if at all!). It is generally used for skin concerns like fine lines/wrinkles, acne scars, large pores, and sun damage. The procedure can be repeated every four weeks for optimum results, especially if you have more mature skin or your skin concerns are more severe. After the procedure you will notice immediate results in the form of clearer and smoother skin that looks refreshed. For issues such as acne scars this treatment might need a few sessions to provide results, but your skin will start its renewal process immediately! Just make sure – as with most cosmetic procedures that work on sloughing off dead skin cells – to use a high SPF the following days, and avoid direct harsh sunlight that might harm your new and very sensitive skin.
Expect to pay anywhere from €80-€150.
Even after the wedding prep, this is my go to treatment at the moment. I have an appointment at the dermatologist every 4-6 weeks, and the microdermabrasion (sometimes followed by an ultrasonic treatment) is one of my favorites. It’s like a professional peel that leaves your skin feeling super fresh and pumped – just what I need every now and then.
Laser treatment for hair removal
How does a laser treatment for hair removal work?
Depending on which laser treatment you go with, it will work a little differently from the next. With the ellipse treatment (the one I chose), carefully controlled pulses of light (meaning: the correct pulse length, wavelengths, and the right amount of energy) penetrate the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) and are absorbed by the pigments in the hair, more specifically in the follicle. The pigment melanin converts the light energy coming from the laser into heat. This heat is transferred to the hair follicle, which is destroyed, making it unable to produce a new hair. As hair grows in different stages, it is important to get more than one session. This way, hair, which is currently in the resting stage, is treated later. As with all cosmetic procedures, make sure you go to someone who is well-educated and trained in handling the equipment. With lasers, especially, there is a risk of damaging the surrounding skin if used by someone other than a trained professional.
Which results can you expect from an Ellipse laser treatment?
Laser treatments for hair removal are something most people don’t consider until a little later in life, when after years of hair removal struggles you just want one less thing to have to think about (almost daily). There are different kinds of laser treatments, varying in intensity/pain, but also in how fast you get results. The office I went to used a laser from the renowned brand Ellipse to carry out the treatments. According to the brand’s website, the Ellipse IPL (intense pulsed light) systems are the fastest hair removal treatments on the market, which also means that you don’t need as many sessions to get your desired results as with other comparable systems. However, as it takes at least three, and more likely six sessions for this kind of treatment to really have an effect, you’ll want to start early! Especially since there is a recommended waiting period between treatment sessions. Your hair will thin out and get more sparse, but it does take a few times to truly get rid of it all. If you want to be hair-free by your wedding day, make sure to start around a year in advance! Another thing you’ll need to consider with lasers is what kind of skin type and hair type you have. As the contrast between the colour of your skin and the colour of the pigment in the hair follicle helps the laser recognise what to target, laser hair removal works best on people who have the combination of fair skin and dark hair.
Starting from € 60 (for smaller facial areas), and from € 180 for larger areas per treatment session
To be frank, having your hair removed with a laser is obviously nothing you absolutely have to do before a wedding – but I simply saw the wedding (and the following honeymoon) as the best excuse to spend some money on it. I had my armpit hair removed within 4 sessions – and it is a real game changer! I used to shave my armpits every day in summer, and not having to do this anymore is truly amazing. Depending on the laser used, it does hurt a little – but it’s endurable. I’ve heard that with newer lasers its almost painless – so I advise you to simply ask the salon about their customers’ experiences. Be aware that (depending on the area) you’ll need a few sessions to see results. So in case you want your body to be hairless for a certain date, make sure you start the treatments timely in advance.
If you’re based in Salzburg, I can recommend you to schedule and appointment with the team at Dr. Fiebiger & Dr. Eiler – this is where I had all of my pre-wedding skin treatments done.
*photos shot on film by Melanie Nedelko