Halo Laser: My Honest Review!
I like to call myself a human guinea pig when it comes to beauty treatments and products. I’m pretty much down to try anything and stick with it despite weird side effects (see Bikini Cleanse). So when I was invited to try out the Halo Laser with Nina Desai, MD at Manhattan Dermatology in Manhattan Beach, CA, I decided to go for it.
Halo is a hybrid fractional laser that delivers ablative and non-ablative wavelengths to the treatment zone. I translate this to mean it works both on the surface of the skin for immediate payoff (removing dark spots, evening skin tone and texture, etc) and deep under the skin for longterm anti-aging results (collagen boosting).
It’s a go-to laser treatment for many dermatologists because it gives great results with minimal downtime. As Dr. Desai put it, a laser like Clear + Brilliant (which I have tried!) takes about five to six treatments to get comparable results to just two Halo treatments.
Admittedly, I was already feeling really good about my skin before I got the treatment. My freckles don’t really bother me – I’m a redhead, so it’s just in the cards – and I was finally found an effective skincare routine and was getting regular facials. Still, I decided that this treatment could be a great reset for my skin, and I just wanted to see what it’s all about…for research.
When I arrived for my treatment, I was expecting to be in and out in about an hour. I was wrong. They numb the skin with a numbing cream before the treatment and that can take up to an hour. Then the treatment itself takes about 45 minutes to an hour.
While my skin numbed, Dr. Desai came in for a little conversation about what to expect from the treatment. I was told my skin would be red and hot immediately after the treatment, but the redness would subside by the next day. Then, over the next few days my skin would start to look “peppery” and the surface layers would shed to reveal smooth, bright, even skin. This whole process would take about a week.
The treatment itself started off pretty tolerable. Dr. Desai likes to combine Halo with BroadBand Light (BBL) which helps with skin redness, visible blood vessels, acne, and more. The BBL part of the treatment came first. It felt like rubber bands snapping on my skin – the sensation and benefits reminded me of my favorite laser: VBeam.
Then came Halo. After measuring my skin with the device, Dr. Desai started the treatment. It involved rolling a hand piece across my skin, section-by-section. At first, it was pretty tolerable. But as each pass went by, my skin started to feel like it was on fire. I’d liken the sensation to hot, coarse sand paper being dragged across my skin over and over again. Luckily, I was given a cool air blower to cool down my skin as the treatment went on.
After the treatment was over, my skin felt like it was on fire. I held onto that cool air blower for dear life and frantically moved it across my face. Dr. Desai also placed cool, damp gauze on my face to help cool my skin down. This part was not fun at all. I was feeling a lot of regrets in the moment. I thought: I had nice skin already! Why did I do this to myself?
This intense period was over in about an hour when I finally felt confident enough to let go of the cool air blower and return to my car to drive back to work. They gave me some ice packs for the road and I blasted my car AC at my face for the entire ride. I would say it took about seven hours for the heat to completely subside, but the worst part was over after an hour.
The next day, I woke up to an extremely puffy, swollen face. I made sure to follow the skincare routine Dr. Desai gave me. It consisted of Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($14), Alastin Regenerating Skin Nectar ($195), Aquaphor ($5), and Tizo Tinted Sunscreen ($30). I was specifically told not to use chemical sunscreen.
Two days later, the “peppery” spots Dr. Desai mentioned started to form. The scientific term for it is microscopic epithelial necrotic debris, or MENDs.
About a week later, I had expected my skin to be back to normal, or at least not rough and sand-papery, but it still had a ways to go. The skin around my nose and mouth was fresh and smooth, which was a nice preview for what was to come. I would say it took a full two weeks for my skin to be MENDs-free and smooth again.
But, wow. My skin looked damn good once the recovery process was over. It was incredibly smooth and bright. And it was such a treat to see how smoothly my makeup went onto my skin. I thought my skin was looking good before, but it looked even better after!
One funny moment that happened about a month later was when my fiancé asked, “When is your skin going to be back to normal?” I responded, “What do you mean? It’s been normal for weeks!” He responded, “But it’s so…white. Where are the freckles?” So I guess you could say that it did reduce the dark spots on my skin, but not completely. I still do have faint freckles, but I don’t want them to be completely gone anyway. They’re part of me. My skin just looks more even and smooth.
At this point, I guess you’re ready for some before and afters, so here you go.
While my skin does appear “redder” in the after, I think how even my skin looks is pretty evident. AND notice the wrinkles on my forehead? I think those have improved a little and they’ll only continue to improve as time goes on thanks to the collagen boost I got from the treatment.
In these side angle views, you can see the pigmentation on my cheeks is reduced and my skin looks more even. I have also noticed that the redness around my nose has been reduced thanks to the BBL portion of the treatment.
Now, for the big question: would I recommend Halo?
The answer, yes and no. It’s important to note that this is a pretty painful treatment, so if you have a low pain tolerance like I discovered I do, you might not want to do it. That said, I’ve received endless compliments about how great my skin looks. And I agree. I love the way my skin looks to the point that I almost never wear makeup now, except for a little brow gel. Even though the treatment itself was intense, I think I would do this treatment again in the future and I’ve recommended it to so many people. It’s the perfect treatment if you want to give your skin a reset.
Did I mention my skin looks really good? Yes? Just making sure you know.
So there you go. This was my honest review of the Halo laser treatment and the recovery process. I think this treatment is the embodiment of the phrase “beauty is pain.” If you can handle the pain, the reward is beautiful skin.
Watch my video below to see the entire process and a day-by-day check-in of the recovery process.