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Out, Spot!

LASER WORKS continued...

“Everyone’s skin is different!” Brandt replies brightly when I ask him if my complexion should be clearing up yet. He then proceeds to suction and light-pulse my face. The results the second time are just as disappointing as they were the first. On any given day, I have at least one colossal pimple on my face, and now in addition to the time I spend meticulously dotting on oil-free concealer, I am also layering on what feels like 400 other potions. My mother is right: Vanity is for fools.

Then one morning, shortly after my third Isolaz session, I look in the mirror and realize something truly amazing: I am pimple-free. Not even an itty-bitty whitehead. Same thing the next day, and the next. I am giddy.

At Brandt’s suggestion, I have several more Isolaz appointments to seal the deal. And I become positively religious about skin care. I get up earlier to do all my steps. When I travel, I decant 3-ounce portions of my various prescription potions into little containers. (My cosmetics bag now takes up half my suitcase.) I am higher maintenance than I ever imagined possible, and I almost look forward to applying my medicines and creams and gels. Every little step is part of the bigger miracle of zitlessness. I stop picking at my skin and squeezing every little blackhead that comes along, because you just don’t mess with a miracle.

“What did you do with your skin?” my mother asks the first time I see her after Isolaz-ing. I explain the doctor’s visits and the endless routine, expecting judgment. But I’m surprised by the reaction I get: “It was about time you took care of that.”

Ariel Levy is a staff writer at the New Yorker and the author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. To find a doctor offering Isolaz, visit


Originally published on May 11, 2008


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